Best friend or biggest rival?
That’s how Friday’s GT Le Mans qualifying session played out at Virginia International Raceway, with Porsche GT Team drivers Fred Makowiecki and Laurens Vanthoor slugging back and forth for the pole position.
In the end, Makowiecki prevailed, edging his teammate by 0.130 seconds as the two drivers will line up side-by-side in the front row for Saturday’s IMSA Michelin GT Challenge.
“You know how it is, your teammate is someone you work with, but they are also your biggest challenger,” Makowiecki said. “They are the same car as you, and you try to optimize always to beat them. Even at the end, we are also there for Porsche and want to have a car on the top – but we prefer ours.”
The pole meant a lot for Makowiecki, whose only previous IMSA career pole was at Sebring in 2015.
“It was intense, because Laurens is a challenger in qualifying,” he said. “He’s done a lot the last couple of years. For sure to be at this level, it requires a lot of concentration, and to be sure you can optimize everything. It was the case today.”
But that always hasn’t been the case.
“The car was very mega to drive, quite a fit to my driving style,” Makowiecki said. “I could go to the limit, which sometimes in qualifying is not easy because the limit you have in qualifying is only for one or two laps – and you can’t experiment in the qualifying that much.”
Makowiecki is also looking forward to seeing clear track ahead for Saturday’s GT-only event.
“No one will be in front of us and it’s less cloudy,” he said. “Sometimes the prototype fight is very intense for us in a different category, with a different performance of the car. But they fight each other and if one car lose some position and comes back to us it can be quite hard. Now, we can be more focused on our race.”
He feels the key to tomorrow will be avoiding mistakes.
“With only six cars, it can be important to avoid any mistakes, because it’s from there you can easily lose the gap,” Makowiecki said. “The keys for tomorrow will be driving quickly, good strategy, and to be away from any mistakes.”