Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Hand, Mul score GT poles at VIR

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The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship hosts its second GT-only round of its 2017 season this weekend with the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR (Virginia International Raceway).

Below are quick qualifying reports for the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona fields.

GTLM

Joey Hand took his third GTLM pole of the 2017 season and will lead the field to green in tomorrow’s race, this after BMW Team RLL seemed poised to take the top spot in qualifying. Alexander Sims, in the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM, led most of the way before Hand, in the No. 67 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, snatched it away with his final run.

Sims managed to qualify second, while teammate John Edwards qualified the No. 24 BMW in third. Giancarlo Fisichella qualified fourth in the Ferrari 488 GTE for Risi Competizione on the team’s return to IMSA after a summer hiatus. Tommy Milner completed the top five in No. 4 Corvette C7.R for Corvette Racing.

The lone incident of qualifying came when Dirk Werner spun off in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR for the Porsche GT Team. However, he returned to the track and the session continued without interruption. Werner will start ninth.

GTD

Jeroen Mul scored the GTD pole for Change Racing in their Lamborghini Huracan GT3, doing so with a new track record for the GTD class after leading every practice prior to qualifying.

Jesse Krohn enjoyed a strong qualifying session in the No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 for Turner Motorsport, even leading the way at times before Mul grabbed pole for good. Krohn will start second, while Andrew Davis made a last-minute effort to grab third on the grid in his Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3.

Jeroen Bleekemolen qualified fourth in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Riley Motorsports – Team AMG, while Jack Hawksworth completed the top five in his Lexus RCF GT3 for 3GT Racing.

Bleekemolen has a new teammate this weekend with Trent Hindman filling in for Ben Keating, who is tending to his family and businesses in Texas as Hurricane Harvey hits the U.S.

The 2 hour 40 minute race begins tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. ET.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.