IMSA: Westbrook battles through wet conditions to put Ford GT on pole at VIR

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Courtesy: IMSA Wire Service

DANVILLE, Va. – Ford Chip Gannasi Racing’s Ford GT teams have been dominant in the middle part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule. That run continued Saturday as Richard Westbrook battled the elements to place his No. 67 Ford GT on the pole for Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway.

The rain started during GT Daytona (GTD) qualifying, and while it let up before the start of the GT Le Mans (GTLM) session, teams still needed to use wet weather tires. At the beginning of the session, the teams were running laps that were just over two minutes, but toward the end of the session, the pace quickened, and times dropped by 4-5 seconds.

Westbrook took advantage of the drying conditions and posted a time of 1:55.580 seconds (101.851 mph) to earn the No. 67’s second pole of the season. He enters the weekend with three wins and leads the GTLM points along with co-driver Ryan Briscoe.

Richard Westbrook came out on top in a very wet GTLM qualifying. Photo courtesy of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.

“We just thought there was no need to panic,” Westbrook said. “We went out on wets and the tires were good at the end because we hadn’t been pounding round and round. I think we got it just right. I love the wet. It’s my first time around here in the wet. It’s a lot of fun. It’s pretty tricky because there are so many different sealants on the tarmac so you’ve got grip and then you don’t have grip. So, it’s difficult to judge but thoroughly enjoyable. At this stage in the season I’m going to say this is an important pole.”

Patrick Pilet in the No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR was second with a time of 1:56.170 (101.333 mph) while John Edwards was third in his No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE 1:56.185 (101.320 mph).

Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen, co-drivers of the two-time defending winner of the Michelin GT Challenge in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R, qualified fourth as Garcia posted a time of 1:56.760 (100.821 mph).

The Michelin GT Challenge will start at 1 p.m. EDT with live television coverage beginning on FS1 for the first hour before moving to FS2 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET IMSA Radio also will offer live coverage on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and Sirius XM Radio (Sirius 138/XM 202/App 972). Tickets are available now on VIRNow.com.

Hawksworth Earns Series-High Fourth Motul Pole Award In GTD Qualifying

Jack Hawksworth put 3GT Racing on the pole in GT Daytona. Photo courtesy of IMSA

Jack Hawksworth became the first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver to win four Motul Pole Awards this season as he put his No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 on the pole in the GT Daytona (GTD) class for tomorrow’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway.

Hawksworth earlier won poles this year at Mid-Ohio and then on consecutive weekends at Watkins Glen and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Rain started to fall halfway through the session, and it turned into a downpour with about two minutes remaining. Hawksworth was able to post his time of 1:44.107 seconds (113.075 mph) before the heavy rain fell.

“In these conditions anything can happen,” Hawksworth said. “In the rain it’s a little bit of a lottery. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s not. I’d rather it be dry to be honest with you. When it started to sprinkle then I thought I should push a little bit more. I managed to get a good lap in there and then it started raining halfway through my next lap, luckily enough it was fast enough for the pole.”

Jeroen Bleekemolen, in the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was second at 1:44.323 (112.841 mph) while Bill Auberlen was third posting a time of 1:44.360 (112.801 mph) in his No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3.

Madison Snow, who along with co-driver Bryan Sellers, lead the GTD points, quailified fifth in their No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 with a time of 1:44.626 (112.541 mph).

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IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

With the 10-hour race requiring an extra driver, several stars from other racing series have been added. In addition to Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay will serve as third drivers in Chip Ganassi Racing’s pair of Cadillacs.

Jimmie Johnson also will be making his last DPi start in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac with Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi. Petit Le Mans could mark the last start in an IMSA prototype for Johnson, who has said limited inventory likely will keep him out of the GTP category in the Rolex 24 next year.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):


Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta


Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans