Saturday, July 20, 2019

Garcia Claims Convincing GTLM Pole at Watkins Glen

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An engine failure and subsequent loss of practice time at the beginning of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen weekend didn’t limit the potential for Corvette Racing’s No. 3 machine, which stormed to the GT Le Mans pole with Antonio Garcia in the cockpit.

Quick through Friday’s practice sessions, Richard Westbrook set the original mark to beat at 1:41.116 in the No. 67 Ford GT after the green flag sent the GTLM field out of pit lane and onto the track for qualifying.

Westbrook turned three more laps but didn’t improve, allowing Garcia to challenge the Chip Ganassi Racing pilot in his No. 3 Corvette C7.R. With a 1:40.799 on his penultimate tour of the Watkins Glen International circuit, Garcia went fast enough to secure the class pole, putting more than three-tenths of a second between himself and Westbrook.

En route to earning his fourth IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship pole and first since last year’s Lime Rock Park event, Garcia became the new Watkins Glen lap record holder in GTLM, eclipsing Alexander Sims’ previous record, set in 2017, by 0.809 seconds.

Both Corvettes reached the top three in qualifying with Tommy Milner earning a third-place starting position behind the all-American front row of Garcia and Westbrook in the top Corvette and Ford cars. John Edwards was the quickest BMW Team RLL qualifier and will start from the outside of the second row having come within 0.01 seconds of Milner’s effort.

Joey Hand completed the top five in the second Ganassi Ford, quicker than the second BMW M8 GTE and both Porsche GT Team machines. Laurens Vanthoor qualified last in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR with only five laps turned due to a punctured tire. Most other cars completed three or four more laps.

Shank Swarms GTD Front Row

Trent Hindman led a sweep of the GT Daytona front row for Meyer Shank Racing as he claimed the class pole for the team’s No. 86 Acura NSX GT3.

In the closing minutes of GTD’s 15-minute qualifying outing, Turner Motorsport driver Dillon Machavern appeared to be Hindman’s closest challenger but a final flyer by Christina Nielsen in the other Shank Acura set up a perfect result in the session for the Ohio-based team.

Either of Hindman’s final two laps would have been strong enough for the pole. At 1:44.978, his quickest was half a second shy of GTD’s record at Watkins Glen but was enough to put 0.317 seconds between he and Nielsen as the front-row lockout was finalized.

Machavern aborted his final qualifying lap, returning to the pit lane and settling for third in the No. 96 BMW M6 GT3. He came within 0.528 seconds of Hindman’s pole time. Jeff Westphal and Ricky Feller completed the top five in Ferrari and Audi cars from Scuderia Corsa and Montaplast by Land-Motorsport, earning fourth and fifth on the class grid.

Returning to Pfaff Motorsports after spending the recent Chevrolet Sports Car Classic in Detroit with Park Place Motorsports, Zacharie Robichon qualified sixth. Ben Keating, returning from Le Mans after initially winning the GTE-Am division in a Ford GT before being disqualified, placed seventh in his No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 as the final driver within a second of Hindman.

A brief morning warm-up outing Sunday morning is all that remains for the WeatherTech Championship before six hours of racing begin at 9:45 a.m. EDT. The live telecast of the race will be shown on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Aaron Durant
Aaron Duranthttp://aarondurant.com
Aaron brings a developing design and editorial vision to The Apex every day and co-hosts The Braking Point podcast every week. As editor-in-chief and an avid reader, Aaron enjoys aligning his relentless care for quality with an interest in counterintuitive approaches.

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