Thomas receives qualifying awards in LMP2, Jacobsen in LMP3
LAKE ELKHART, Wisconsin. – Filipe Albuquerque was so confident in his fastest lap that he called it the real-time pole winner.
Albuquerque won the Motul Pole Award for the IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America on Saturday, scoring five precious points over the championship leaders in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class ahead of the penultimate race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
Albuquerque hit 1 minute 48.915 seconds (133.799 mph) in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05, which put him and co-driver Ricky Taylor ahead of championship leaders Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomkvist, who qualified third fastest in the class. No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05.
Pole allowed Albuquerque and Taylor to close Blomkvist and Jarvis’ lead to 51 points with just two races — Sunday and the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on October 1 — remaining on the DPi schedule.
Immediately after crossing the time line on his fifth lap of the session, Albuquerque told his team that it was enough to win pole.
“I said, ‘It must be pole position, because it was great,'” Albuquerque said. “Then I just shut up. On the lap I said, “I don’t know if it can handle the P1 or not, but it was a great car.” It was just a beautiful car.”
As Sebastien Bourdais slid off course in the No. 01 Cadillac Racing DPi-VR Cadillac with seconds left in the session, Albuquerque shook his fist gleefully from the pits.
Knowing that rain was forecast on Sunday played into his emotions about starting ahead of the field.
“It should be a rainy race,” Albuquerque said. “Starting from pole will help you get through the first few corners with splashes and fewer incidents. It’s a bunch of things together. There was tension and nervousness. I had to perform when it was credited.”
Alex Lynn had the second fastest lap in the DPi at 1:49.097 (133.576 mph) in the #02 Cadillac Racing Cadillac he shares with Earl Bamber. Blomkvist took the third starting position with a lap time of 1:49.841 (132.671 mph) in the No. 60 MSR Acura.
Sunday’s race starts at 11:40 AM ET. Peacock and IMSA Radio will be broadcast live, with USA Network joining at noon.
Thomas wins PR1 Mathiasen Shootout for LMP2 pole
PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports had a stranglehold on the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) qualification, with Stephen Thomas and Patrick Kelly swapping for first place throughout the session. After all, it was Thomas in 11th place on the ORECA LMP2 07 who received the Motul Pole Award, 0.134 seconds ahead of Kelly in 52nd place on the ORECA team.
Thomas earned his fourth pole in the second season of the WeatherTech Championship. His best lap of 1:54.137 (127.677 mph) came with just under five minutes left in the 15-minute session and held. He admitted that he was not sure how he would behave when qualifying began.
“We thought we had a good race car but we made quite a few changes from (Friday practice) to qualifying so we didn’t know we had a good race car,” said the 55-year-old from Missouri. “When I got it through the first corner, I thought, ‘We have a good race car,’ so thanks to our engineer Tim Lewis and (team principal) Bobby Orgel, who were also involved in all of this. They did a great job.”
Thomas expressed his gratitude to co-driver Tristan Nunez for his help with the performance. Last year, the duo tied for 11th place by winning Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. Jonathan Bomarito was Thomas’ teammate this year until he stepped aside this weekend to allow Nunes to return. On Friday night Nunes and Thomas watched a video that helped Thomas improve his line through the carousel.
“We are very comfortable with each other,” Thomas said of Nunez, “and he knows what to tell me to get me to do what I can do in a race car. It’s just great to have him around. I love JB (Bomarito) and it’s kind of them to look into what they’ve done, but I also love Tristan. It’s good to have him here.”
Dwight Merriman qualified third in the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA in 1:54.677. Merriman and co-driver Ryan Dalziel are the reigning winners of the race. All six LMP2s qualified within 0.696 seconds.
Jacobsen takes pole position in LMP3
Malte Jacobsen has a lot of wet weather experience, but not much experience with the Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3).
On Saturday, the 19-year-old Danish driver won the Motul Pole Award in his class with a lap of 1:59.434 (122.015 mph) in the LMP3 class in the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P320, which he drives alongside veteran Joao . Barbosa.
“Joao is such a good teammate because he has so much experience,” Jacobsen said. “We push each other and learn from each other. Especially at the beginning of the year, in Daytona and Sebring, he helped me manage all the traffic and race in multi-class. He has so much experience in the faster categories. He can explain what happens when they bypass you.
Jarett Andretti had the second fastest LMP3 lap of 2:00.163 (121.274 mph) in the No. 36 Andretti Autosport Ligier he drives with Gabby Chavez. Gar Robinson finished 3rd in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier, which he shares with Felipe Fraga.
Jacobsen, Barbosa and their Sean Creech Motorsport teammates discussed the possibility of rain in the race.
“It won’t be easy,” Jacobsen said. “I have some experience racing in the rain in P3, but not much. But from Formula Ford racing in Denmark and Scandinavia, I know. It rains there every second day.”