Corvette DPs Sweep Front Two Rows For Chevrolet Sports Car Classic Presented By The Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers
Friday, June 3, 2016

Christian Fittipaldi led the “Bowtie Brigade” to a sweep of the front two rows in Friday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying. Fittipaldi captured his second consecutive TOTAL Pole Award at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park in qualifying for Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Grand Prix Presented by the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers.

“To be on the pole here in ‘Chevy Town’ is very special,” said Fittipaldi after taking his third consecutive TOTAL Pole on a street course. In addition to his two poles at Detroit, he was the fastest qualifier on the streets of Long Beach earlier this season. “It’s not necessarily just this place that makes us successful. I think we have a very good car on the street courses and the road courses. Some days it comes easy, and other days you have to work for it. Today we worked for it. Now we hope to capitalize on it tomorrow.”

Fittipaldi shattered his year-old track record with a lap of 1:23.815 (100.9 mph). Searching for any extra speed, he spun the No. 5 Action Express Racing Mustang Sampling Corvette DP co-driven by Joao Barbosa on his final lap, but escaped without damage.

“They told me on the radio that the No. 90 was getting close, so I tried to do my very best,” Fittipaldi said. “I guess I squeezed it a bit too much – I was lucky not to hit anything.”

Marc Goossens came up 0.048 seconds short of winning his first Prototype pole, running a lap of 1:23.863 (100.8 mph) in the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP shared by Ryan Dalziel.

Corvette DPs also swept the second row. Ricky Taylor was third fastest in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette, co-driven by his brother Jordan. Defending Belle Isle winners Eric Curran and Dane Cameron followed in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette.

Alon Claims Second Consecutive PC Pole For PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports

For the second consecutive race, Robert Alon claimed the TOTAL Pole Award in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class in dramatic fashion. Alon once again saved his best for last, running a PC track-record lap of 1:27.571 (96.6 mph) in the No. 52 Professional Security Consultants/Westfield ORECA FLM09 late in the 15-minute session. Alon followed up his first career pole at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca by joining Tom Kimber-Smith in winning the race, tying him for the lead in the PC point standings.

“I like to build up and do some decent laps that are solid and I feel comfortable with the car,” Alon said of his qualifying strategy. “Then I throw the car at it. I guess that played well today and worked out for me.”

Prior to Alon’s fast lap, James French was in position to capture his second consecutive pole at Belle Isle. French will start second with a lap of 1:27.851 in the in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports entry co-driven by Kyle Marcelli.

Alex Popow led much of the 15-minute session with a fastest lap of 1:27.878 in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport entry co-driven by 2015 Detroit winner Renger van der Zande. He will be joined on the second row by points co-leader Misha Goikhberg, who ran 1:28.005 in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA co-driven by Rolex 24 At Daytona and Long Beach winner Stephen Simpson.

NOTEBOOK

  • The top four Prototype qualifiers broke Fittipaldi’s 2015 Prototype track record of 1:24.746 (99.828 mph), and were separated by 0.522 seconds.
  • The top five PC qualifiers eclipsed James French’s year-old track record of 1:29.317 (94.719 mph), with the top four separated by a mere 0.434 seconds.
  • Katherine Legge turned her first laps in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Honda Ligier JS P2 on Friday. With team regular John Pew already in France helping the team prepare for its debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans – and Panoz DeltaWing Racing not competing in Detroit – Legge was available to help the team attempt to retain Honda’s lead in the Prototype Manufacturer standings. She went on to qualify fifth with a lap of 1:25.195.

            “Obviously, it’s got a wider front track!” Legge said. “It’s been a great experience working with Mike Shank, Ozz Negri and the guys. It’s my first time at this track as well as in this car. It’s very different from the DeltaWing, it drives differently and has a different feel. But at the end of the day, it’s a race car – and I’ve driven many of those. It’s making me a better driver. I’m looking to learning every time I go out.”

  • With half of his crew already in France preparing for his debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Mike Shank called on fellow Ohio team owner Kevin Doran to help out this weekend.  “I’ve worked with Mike [back in 2004] in the first year of his DP program,” said Doran, who is based in the Cincinnati area, 90 minutes from Shank’s outside Columbus. Doran has some personal history with Ligier. “It’s a great car.”

     “I interviewed with Ligier’s Formula One team back in 1987,” said Doran, who won three straight IMSA GTP titles with Al Holbert and Chip Robinson from 1985-87.

  • Starworks Motorsport has a new paint scheme for the No. 8 ORECA FLM09 co-driven by Alex Popow and defending Detroit class winner Renger van der Zande. The car now has a white center with its sides metallic red and silver. “There were too many black cars out there,” said car owner Peter Baron. “I got together with our graphics guy and picked out some sparkly stuff. We’re going with something fresh.”
  • Saturday’s 100-minute race will be televised live on FS1 at 12:30 p.m. ET, and also will be carried on the FOX Sports GO mobile app on-track. The day’s activities begin at 8 a.m. ET with a 30-minute warm-up session. 

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