Aston, Mercedes on pole for IMSA GT Challenge at VIR

Michael Levitt/Lumen

Aston, Mercedes on pole for IMSA GT Challenge at VIR

IMSA

Aston, Mercedes on pole for IMSA GT Challenge at VIR

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Ross Gunn wasn’t able to match his GTD-record pole time from 2021, but he still managed to score Heart of Racing’s first GTD PRO pole position of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIR with a 1m43.953s lap in the No. 23 Aston Martin Vantage. The time, good for a 113.24mph average around the 3.27-mile VIRginia International Raceway, was a relatively massive 0.714s ahead of Antonio Garcia’s best in the No. 3 Corvette.

“It’s a great, great feeling to be on pole,” declared Gunn. “We haven’t had a pole this year, so very nice to break that. We knew that coming here this track suited the strengths of the Aston. We we were a little bit behind yesterday — we didn’t have the great balance — but we did a really good job this morning to improve that situation. And just then it was really, really good, so a little bit of understeer that we can iron out for tomorrow, but even so I think we’re in a good place.”

Garcia will start alongside on the front row after turning a best time of 1m44.667s. Garcia had an off in Turn 3 and made light contact with the tire wall, but was able to continue. Matt Campbell also had an off in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R, getting Turn 10 a bit wrong and then sliding off in Turn 11 on his first attempt at a flyer, but managed to come back and set the third-quickest time of 1m44.719s. Connor De Phillippi will start the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL M4 in fourth, and Jack Hawksworth will start fifth in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F after being unable to repeat his sub-1m44s lap from this morning’s practice.

With all the GTD PRO cars qualifying ahead of the GTD field, Russell Ward will start sixth after scoring his second GTD pole position of the season, the first coming at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Ward’s time of 1m45.010s in the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG was a scant 0.067s better than Aidan Read, who was quickest in the morning practice in the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing Acura NSX.

“I love this place,” said Ward, who was attempting a faster lap when he took the car off track, filling the radiator opening with grass. “I got my first pole here and in 2021 with Mercedes-AMG GT4, and now the first time here in the GT3 and we got the same result, so just an awesome job by the crew. They got a little bit of cleaning to do.”

Madison Snow set the third-fastest time in GTD with a 1m45.081s lap in the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3, which had missed most of the morning practice session with a floor issue. A start tomorrow will clinch the Sprint Cup title for Snow and Bryan Sellers. Robert Megennis will start fourth in GTD in the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracán, with Mike Skeen, qualifying for the first time since May, starting alongside in the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG.

The 18-car GT field for tomorrow’s 2h40m race is scheduled to get the green flag at 2:10 p.m. ET. Live coverage starting at 2 p.m. will be on CNBC and streamed on Peacock.

RESULTS

Up Next: a 20-minute warmup Sunday at 8 a.m. ET.

MX-5 Cup | Round 12 – VIR

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