It wouldn’t be Laguna Seca without a fog delay, and the first one came Sunday morning as the scheduled warmup for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship couldn’t go as planned due to the blanketing of the circuit. Scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. local time, cars finally rolled onto the track at 9:35 for a shortened 10-minute session. The Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup race started immediately afterward, but no determination had been made regarding the schedule of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo race, also intended to run this morning ahead of the WeatherTech Championship race.
With some fog still in place and a slightly damp track, Tom Blomqvist put in the quickest time in the warmup at 1m17.385s in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06. Giedo van der Garde was the quickest of the LMP2 drivers at 1m20.618s for TDS Racing in the No. 35 ORECA. Gabby Chaves led GTD in Andretti Autosport’s new Aston Martin Vantage with a 1m25.053s lap, and Jack Hawksworth was quickest of the two GTD PRO cars that went out, knocking out a 1m25.454 in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F.
Alec Udell didn’t have much time to celebrate his GTD pole position, as he was due on pit wall for his coaching gig in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo race that started shortly after qualifying ended. Celebrate or not, he was pleased for his first pole position, as well as the first for Kellymoss with Riley.
“We’ve obviously been working really hard with the program,” he said. “We had, of course, some ups and downs just like any new program, any new car has at the beginning of the year. So I’m very happy with all the guys at Riley and Kellymoss to come together on such a big effort to bring a new car to the paddock and to bring a new team to the paddock. We’ve had some good success so far and we’re just looking to build on that here at Laguna Seca.”
Lack of grip
GTD PRO polesitter Klaus Bachler is racing for the first time at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. He admits the low-grip surface – due to be replaced beginning in a matter of days – caught him off guard. But he’s been leaning on the experience of his team, and teammate Patrick Pilet.
“I was looking through the results from the last year so it was clear — OK, the Porsche was very strong, but when I hit the track yesterday it was new for me and it was not feeling so great in terms of grip level, but it seems that everybody has the same issue. And we came out in front. But we will see how it is (for the) race. I have a great team with a lot of experience and they know a lot also from the last few years, so they teach me,” Bachler said.
Antonio Garcia and Ricky Taylor are tied among current drivers in WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca victories at three apiece. Filipe Albuquerque, Nick Tandy, Renger van der Zande and Andy Lally all have the opportunity to get a third victory today, although if Albuquerque increases his total, so does Taylor. The two have won this race both of the last two years for Wayne Taylor Racing.
In the first 2h40m race of the year, minimum drive times are 45 minutes for GTD and 60 minutes for LMP2. For the pro classes, the minimum drive time is 10 minutes.
GTP and LMP2 have three sets of Michelins to use during qualifying and race. Several of the GTP teams used the first part of qualifying to scrub in tires for Sunday’s race. GTD PRO and GTD don’t have a set allocation for qualifying/race, but were limited to seven sets total for the event.
How to watch
Live coverage of the 2h40m Motul Course de Monterey begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBC. It will also be streamed on Peacock. IMSA Radio coverage can be accessed via IMSA.com, and found on XM 207/SiriusXM Web/App 992.