Ford Chip Gannasi Racing’s Ford GT teams have been dominant in the middle part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule. That run continued Saturday as Richard Westbrook battled the elements to place his #67 Ford GT on the pole for Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway.
The rain started during GT Daytona (GTD) qualifying, and while it let up before the start of the GT Le Mans (GTLM) session, teams still needed to use wet weather tires. At the beginning of the session, the teams were running laps that were just over two minutes, but toward the end of the session, the pace quickened, and times dropped by 4-5 seconds.
Westbrook took advantage of the drying conditions and posted a time of 1m:55.580s (101.851 mph) to earn the #67’s second pole of the season. He enters the weekend with three wins and leads the GTLM points along with co-driver Ryan Briscoe.
“We just thought there was no need to panic,” Westbrook said. “We went out on wets, and the tires were good at the end because we hadn’t been pounding round and round. I think we got it just right. I love the wet. It’s my first time around here in the wet. It’s a lot of fun. It’s pretty tricky because there are so many different sealants on the tarmac so you’ve got grip and then you don’t have grip. So, it’s difficult to judge but thoroughly enjoyable. At this stage of the season, I’m going to say this is an important pole.”
Patrick Pilet in the #911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR was second with a time of 1m:56.170s (101.333 mph) while John Edwards was third in his #24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE 1m:56.185s (101.320 mph).
Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen, co-drivers of the two-time defending winner of the Michelin GT Challenge in the #3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R, qualified fourth as Garcia posted a time of 1:56.760 (100.821 mph).