Oliver Jarvis captured the pole for Mazda in Saturday’s qualifying for the Acura Sports Car Challenge, edging the two Team Penske Acuras by the blink of an eye.
Despite running out of fuel on his final – and potentially fastest – lap, Jarvis’ penultimate round of 1m10.705s was good enough to put the No. 77 Team Joest Mazda DPi on top.
“I was on a good lap, and I was pushing hard,” Jarvis said. “Then it died on us two corners from the end. Me and Dane (Cameron) were swapping P1 every lap. I was ahead on the track. I’d get the information I was P1, and then about 10 seconds later I would be told there was a new target time. When I ran out of fuel I assumed Dane would have jumped me. There was frustration in the car until I got back to the pits. Then when they told me I was on the pole was absolutely delighted.”
Actually, the No. 7 Team Penske Acura DPi of Helio Castroneves was second, .022s back with a lap of 1m10.727s. Cameron wound up third, 1m10.806s in the No. 6 Acura. The top three were separated by a mere 0.101s.
“Winning the pole at Daytona was great, but we knew we had the pace there,” Jarvis said. “This was a big one for us, with no testing and knowing how quick the Penskes are around here. Today was a head-to-head battle with Dane – we just didn’t know it at the time.”
Pipo Derani was fourth, 1m11.721s in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, followed by Joao Barbosa, 1m12.320s in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac. Ryan Hunter-Reay was sixth in the No. 55 Mazda, with a lap of 1m12.326s.
Late substitute Sebastien Bourdais came on strong at the finish, leading the GTLM class to capture his second career WeatherTech Championship pole. Bourdais, subbing for an ailing Joey Hand, ran 1m19.124 in the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Ford GT.
Five different drivers took turns at the front over the final five minutes of the competitive session, with the pole changing hands nine times during that span.
“Conditions have been very tricky,” Bourdais said. “We didn’t get a good read this morning, so we’re happy to be on the pole. That did a real good job giving me a good car for qualifying, but I don’t how that will shake out during the race.
“I have no idea for tomorrow,” he continued. “We get a warm-up, but it’s going to be cold. Conditions are going to be very different. It’s weird to be going into a race like this, not having a single long and having so few data. It’s like a toss a coin, see what happens kind of thing.”
The four different marques competing in GTLM took the top four positions. Lauren Vanthoor was second, 1m19.399s in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR; Jesse Krohn placed third, 1m19.623s in the No. 24 BMW M8 GTLM; and Tommy Milner took fourth, 1m19.721 in the No. 4 Corvette C7R.
Richard Heistand captured the GTD pole with a lap of 1m24.281s in the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 – topping the 15-car field by 1.612s.
“Everything came together for us in qualifying,” said Heistand, whose only previous experience at Mid-Ohio was running in the Skip Barber national series in his 2005 rookie season. “Our car suits this track; our car turns on the tires on quickly; it was a drying session on slick tires; and then we got in a good lap at the end. So it all worked out for us. I think we’re in good shape for the race. The pole is a good place to be.”
Zach Robichon will start on the outside of the front row, running 1m25.893s in the 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3.R. Ben Keating (No. 33 Mercedes-AMG) and Frankie Montecalvo (No. 12 Lexus) will start on the second row.
Marco Seefried brought out the red flag midway through the session when he slid off course in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3.R after hitting a wet patch at the exit of Turn 2, and could not drive out of the wet grass
Kyle Masson took the first LMP2 pole for Performance Tech Motorsports, running 1m14.877s in the No. 38 ORECA Gibson.
“It feels real good,” Masson said. “We had a strong race car here last year. With the wet conditions, we didn’t have much time to focus on anything. We went with the knowledge we had last year and capitalized on it. We were able to improve the car, regardless of the fact we didn’t have any sessions or time to put it together, and the team did a great job doing that.”
UP NEXT: The next on-track activity for the WeatherTech Championship will be a 20-minute warm-up beginning at 8 a.m. ET Sunday morning. The Acura Sports Car Challenge will take the green flag at 1:40 p.m. (Live, NBCSN).