Laurens Vanthoor claimed the GTLM pole in dramatic fashion in Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying for the Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway.
Vanthoor had a best lap of 1m40.630s in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR, taking the top position with only three minutes remaining in the session. After Vanthoor waved off an attempt to go even faster on his checkered flag lap, rivals Jan Magnussen, Ryan Briscoe and Joey Hand all went faster, but still came up short on their final lap.
Magnussen missed the pole by a mere 0.078s, running 1m40.708s in the No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R. He was followed by the two Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs, with Briscoe third, 0.15s back in the No. 67, followed by Hand in the No. 66 Ford. Oliver Gavin timed in fifth fastest in the No. 4 Corvette.
“It wasn’t very easy because the track had some slight wet spots,” Vanthoor said. “So the first couple of laps you’re still trying to figure out where the track is dry. Especially you have a couple of extra laps of juice in the tires and you’re trying to decide when you want to use them. In the end, we have to start on these tires in the race as well. Today it’s quite cold, tomorrow it could be a bit warmer.
“They called me in [on his final lap], and I said, ‘Are you sure?’ I thought it was a bit close, I might be able to get another tenth out of it. But they were sure about it and they were right and we were safe. So that’s another lap for the tires for tomorrow.”
Nick Tandy went from pole to sixth in the final minutes in the No. 911 Porsche. After his best lap of 1m41.615s was eclipsed by his teammate, Tandy backed off for a lap and then made a last-minute charge for the top spot. He spun off course in the Oak Tree corner and slapped the tire barrier with the left side. He was able to continue back to the pits.
Extra lap gives Robichon GTD pole
GTD qualifying was also dramatic, with Zach Robichon capturing the pole on his final lap in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3, running a lap of 1m45.826s.
The 15-minute session began with most of the GTD teams testing the damp course on slick tires – with the pole swapped back and forth on every lap throughout the 15-minute session as the cars began to work in a dry line.
“It was like driving on ice back home,” said the pole-winning Canadian, who managed to take a ninth lap in the session. “Credit needs to go to the team. They made the right call, and I got an extra lap over everyone else.”
Frankie Montecalvo briefly took the top spot with a lap of 1m46.150s in the No. 12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3, followed by teammate Richard Heistand in the No. 14 Lexus, 1m46.1m, with the teammates working together throughout the session.
Trent Hindman also held the pole several times before settling for fourth with a lap of 1m46.697s in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3. Teammate Amy Powell was fifth, running 1m48.159s in her first drive in the No. 57 Caterpillar Acura.
UP NEXT: Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge takes the green flag at 1:35 p.m. The event will be televised live on NBCSN, beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.