The GT Le Mans circuit record that stood for two years at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca was broken when Jesse Krohn stormed to the class pole position for this year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship contest at the venue.
After the car only went fast enough to place eighth in the pre-qualifying practice outing, Krohn ensured the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE topped GTLM’s 15-minute qualifying session with a 1:21.557 around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile permanent road course in California.
Dirk Mueller came within 0.127 seconds of keeping Krohn from securing the second WeatherTech Championship pole of his career and settled for second in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 66 Ford GT. Krohn’s previous pole came earlier this season at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Krohn, who shares the black No. 24 BMW with John Edwards, beat Toni Vilander’s pole time from two years ago by 0.357 seconds to become the new circuit record holder in a GTE machine.
Qualifying ended with both BMW Team RLL cars in the top three as Tom Blomqvist was 0.334 seconds off the pole time in the No. 25 BMW but quick enough to land third on the grid. He’ll start alongside Laurens Vanthoor of the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR on the second row.
Ryan Briscoe completed the top five in the second Ford, lapping 0.469 and 0.604 seconds quicker than the two Corvette Racing cars. Due to a spin at the corkscrew, Nick Tandy in the second Porsche didn’t show his full potential in qualifying and will line up eighth.
Lewis Becomes First-Time GTD Pole Sitter
After Bryan Sellers demonstrated the competitive speed Paul Miller Racing brought to Laguna Seca with its Lamborghini Huracan GT3 by setting the GT Daytona pace in both practices Friday, his co-driver Corey Lewis executed a flawless final lap in qualifying to earn the class pole.
Lewis was seventh on the running order when Patrick Lindsey crashed heavily in Park Place Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 R and initiated a long red-flag period. IMSA added four minutes to the session once the destroyed Porsche was removed from beside the track at the entrance to the final corner, creating the opportunity Lewis needed to knock GTD championship leader Trent Hindman off the top of the running order.
With a 1:24.962 lap once the green flag returned, Lewis gapped Hindman by 0.101 seconds and will take the green flag alongside the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 when he starts from the pole for his first time Sunday.
While Hindman and co-driver Mario Farnbacher perhaps play it safe during the two-hour, 40-minute race given their large points lead, Cooper MacNeil, Robby Foley and Zacharie Robichon will be eager to come out on top in the final sprint race of 2019. These drivers qualified third, fourth and fifth in GTD.
Only 11 GT3 cars will participate in Sunday’s race as the Park Place Porsche was retired from the event due to the crash. Frankie Montecalvo qualified last in the No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3 from AIM Vasser Sullivan, one and a half seconds back from the pole time on his quickest lap.
The GT divisions will join DPi and LMP2 on track for a 20-minute warm-up outing beginning at 8 a.m. PDT Sunday to kick off the year’s penultimate race day. The Monterey SportsCar Championship race is scheduled to go green at 3:05 p.m. EDT and will be telecast live on NBC.