Fittipaldi flies to Long Beach IMSA pole

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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LONG BEACH, Calif. – Christian Fittipaldi took the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP to the overall pole position for Saturday’s BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach, Round 3 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, in a slightly abnormal qualifying session.

Fittipaldi, in the car he shares with Joao Barbosa, posted a 1:14.962.

He is just ahead of another Corvette DP, this time the defending race-winning No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing entry qualified by Ricky Taylor.

Mazda’s practice pace¬†proved no fluke with Tom Long getting the No. 70 Mazda Prototype within 0.679 of a second of overall pole.

Thing was, both Mazdas had a strange moment during qualifying after Marc Goossens spun the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP at Turn 11.

Goossens lost control of his car at the hairpin, then was hit by Tristan Nunez’s Mazda. Tom Long made it through around the outside without damage himself.

Misha Goikhberg (PC) and Bill Auberlen (GTLM) were the other two class polesitters, with the PC pole decided on an oddity.

James French was fastest during the session at 1:17.910 in the Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca FLM09, over Jon Bennett in the CORE autosport car at 1:18.623.

However, contact between Robert Alon in the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports car and Mark Kvamme in the No. 88 Starworks Motorsport car left Kvamme’s car stranded and needing a flatbed to come back to the pits.

The incident meant the PC session did not meet its 10 minute minimum green flag time, and the grid set by driver points.

That would have moved Alon to pole; alas, with Alon penalized to the back of the grid for causing a red flag, it bumped second-placed Misha Goikhberg to pole in the JDC/Miller Motorsports entry he shares with Stephen Simpson.

The GTLM qualifying battle was a shootout with Auberlen securing his second straight pole both this season, and at Long Beach.

Last year Auberlen took the class pole here in the BMW Z4 GTLM at 1:17.268, and was within 0.004 of a second of that time this year.

In the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM he shares with Dirk Werner, he posted a best time of 1:17.272 today.

He edged Earl Bamber, who per IMSA Radio pitted for a tire pressure change, by just 0.003 of a second. Bamber clocked a 1:17.275 in the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR.

The qualifying order is linked here.