McAleer, No. 32 Mercedes Take Motul Pole Award in GTD at The Glen
By John Oreovicz
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – The No. 25 BMW Team RLL M4 GT3 has been working its way up the GTD PRO grid all season in the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
That constant improvement in qualifying performance culminated Saturday in Connor De Phillippi claiming the Motul Pole Award for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. De Phillippi’s lap of the 3.4-mile, 22-turn Watkins Glen International road course was timed at 1 minute, 44.755 seconds (116.844 mph), an effort that edged the Ross Gunn in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 by 0.048 seconds.
The No. 25 BMW started 12th in class at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, in the first race for the brand-new M4 GT3 model, then qualified eighth for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts. A sixth-place start and finish at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in April represented season bests, until De Phillippi and co-driver John Edwards started fourth and claimed their first podium visit of the campaign with a third-place finish at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in May.
Saturday’s pole was De Phillippi’s second in IMSA competition and first since Sebring in 2018.
“I think we’re competitive,” said De Phillippi, a 29-year-old California native. “We’re above average in all areas. We’re not the quickest car on the straight and we’re not the best car around the corners, but we do have a car that does everything reasonably well. Hopefully, that will play into our hands for the race.
“Those were the hottest conditions of the weekend for us, but the lap was good,” he continued. “I didn’t have a ton of laps coming into it, so I was kind of driving by feel, but the car was really good. We made a good step from (practice) this morning, and I think we have a good race car as well.”
Davide Rigon qualified third in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 (1:45.169) and was the only driver to improve his time late in the 15-minute qualifying session as the track temperature rose to over 125 degrees. Ben Barnicoat in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 will line up fourth (1:45.215).
De Phillippi said qualifying is especially important at Watkins Glen because passing tends to be extremely difficult in the race.
“This track typically is hard to race on if you don’t have top speed, so starting up front was important for us,” he said. “If we get stuck behind cars that have high top speed, it’s going to be a tough race.
“Excited to start P1 because it’s going to make our job a little easier.”
Similarly hot conditions are expected for Sunday’s six-hour race, which starts at 10:40 a.m. ET. Flag-to-flag coverage is available on Peacock in the U.S. and IMSA.com/TVLive elsewhere. Live TV coverage on USA Network starts at 2 p.m.
Points Leader McAleer Puts No. 32 Mercedes on GTD Pole
By Holly Cain
Stevan McAleer leads the driver points in GT Daytona (GTD) and added another accomplishment on Saturday: his first Motul Pole Award. The Scotsman guided the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the class pole with a lap of 1:45.077 (116.486 mph).
McAleer’s work was particularly impressive considering his lap time trailed only the top two GTD PRO qualifiers among all the GT3-spec cars. He was second fastest in GTD with about six minutes remaining in qualifying and turned in the best-in-class lap immediately thereafter.
“I was feeling pretty good, they said I was P2, I was four-tenths off the pole and that lap wasn’t super tidy,’’ McAleer said. “The next lap was a little better.
“But the field is so strong in GTD, you can’t put a lap in and think you’ve got an easy pole position. This is the first of the year for us. The lap I did was certainly on the limit and we’ll see if we can turn that into a race win tomorrow.”
Richard Heistand was the next quickest GTD car, the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 0.340 seconds off McAleer’s lap. Robby Foley qualified third in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3, jus 0.009 seconds behind Heistand.
Foley and co-driver Bill Auberlen sit third in the GTD standings, 134 points behind McAleer and the No. 32 Mercedes. Michael Dinan is the third driver in the No. 96, which won the six-hour race last year with Foley, Auberlen and Aidan Read at the wheel.
Jan Heylen, Ryan Hardwick and the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R are second in GTD points. Endurance driver Zacharie Robichon qualified the car seventh on Saturday (1:45.762). Heylen and Hardwick are second in the GTD standings, 45 points behind McAleer.
“Track position is really important,” McAleer said, “because if you come up against a guy that is remotely as fast as you, it’s really hard to pass without having contact. And then add in all the prototypes that are 10 seconds quicker than us, it’s going to be an exciting race. Certainly, good to start out front and hopefully we can keep it there.”