A year on from the weekend in which the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Rolex Series shared the billing the front row of the grid for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race at Road America perfectly blended the machinery of the two predecessor series.
The battle of for pole position for the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase event pitted one team from each side of the LMP2-Daytona Prototype divided against each other, with the top spot only decided as the checkered flag fell to end the qualifying session. For much of the 15 minute session for the Prototype (P) class Richard Westbrook was a step ahead of his rivals.
The Briton, performing qualifying duties in the Spirit of Daytona Racing Chevrolet Corvette DP, took the provisional pole with his first flying lap of the session. Though he briefly lost the spot as Christian Fittipaldi and Ricky Taylor improved upon their early times Westbrook closed his grip around the pole position by lapping the four mile track in 1:55.791, improving to a 1:55.487 that seemed to have completed the task of topping qualifying.
At the time the second fastest time was more than half a second slower, Olivier Pla provisionally lined-up on the outside of the front row with a lap the other side of the 1:56 mark.
However, back into the second spot he had occupied after the first flying laps stepped Ryan Dalziel. Qualifying the #1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b he shares with team over Scott Sharp Dalziel started to whittle down Westbrook’s advantage, moving into the 1:55 bracket before improving to a 1:55.705. But it wasn’t until the very end of the session, just as Westbrook returned to the pits, that Dalziel set his best time of the session, snatching pole position with a lap of 1:55.166.
Westbrook, who shares the #90 with Michael Valiante, remained second fastest with Fittipaldi third quickest in the #5 Action Express Racing DP. Pla was fourth fastest in OAK Racing Nissan powered LMP2 Morgan. Taylor’s best lap completed the top five.
Jack Hawksworth’s weekend of dominating the Prototype Challenge (PC) class ended in qualifying, only able to set the second fastest time in the class. However, RSR Racing’s position as the team to beat in Wisconsin remained as they locked out the front row with Bruno Junqueira taking the class pole with a best time of 1:59.411.
Luis Diaz, the only other man to head Hawksworth during the session – albeit briefly – ended the session third fastest in his 8Star Motorsports entry.
Possession of the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class pole swung between the BMW and Dodge camps during the class’ session. The pair of Corvette Racing C7.R started the session first and second – partly due to being the first two cars on track – but they were pushed down the order to end qualifying only sixth and eighth fastest.
Ahead it was the two SRT Motorsports Vipers, qualified by Jonathan Bomarito and Marc Goossens, and the pair of BMW Team RLL Z4 GTE driven by Bill Auberlen and John Edwards that battled over pole.
Both squads held first and second at least once during the session, but the session ended with top spots shared, Edwards on pole in the #56 co-driven by Dirk Mueller after a late lap of 2:03.747. The efforts of Bomarito and Goossens aboard the #93 and #91 Vipers respectively were rewarded with second and third with Auberlen and Andy Priaulx’s #55 BMW fourth fastest, the top four more than half a second clear of the Patrick Long driven #912 Porsche that was fifth fastest.
In contrast to the laps that decided the pole positions in the other classes James Davison needed only a single lap to claim GT Daytona pole for TRG-AMR with a time of 2:09.079.
With the class leading off the TUDOR Championship qualifying session he quickly leapt to pole position ahead of Mario Farnbacher and Jeroen Bleekemolen. Bleekemolen would get ahead of Farnbacher, retaking second fastest behind Davison whose short, sharp session ended when he returned to the pits with over a third of the 15 minutes remaining.
His absence presented his rivals with an opportunity to take pole, however, while there were improvements none challenged the Australian on pole. Dane Cameron came closest with his lap of 2:09.293 in Turner Motorsports’ BMW.
The TUDOR Championship race is scheduled to begin at 2:15pm Eastern Time (7:15pm UK) on Sunday.