Keating Keeps Cruising in LMP2; Varrone Takes LMP3 Pole in IMSA Debut
By Jeff Olson
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Tom Blomqvist picked the right time for his first Motul Pole Award in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Blomqvist turned a lap of 1 minute, 29.580 seconds (136.637 mph) Saturday – a track record for the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class – to claim pole position for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. He’ll lead the field around the 11-turn, 3.4-mile Watkins Glen International circuit when the green flag waves Sunday morning.
“We put a big focus on qualifying this weekend,” said Blomqvist, who will co-drive the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05 with Oliver Jarvis. “The championship is tight and every point counts.”
The pole let Blomqvist and Jarvis expand their lead in the WeatherTech Championship driver standings to 13 points over Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque, who qualified second in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 at 1:29.744.
“It’s a six-hour race, so a lot can happen,” Blomqvist said. “But it definitely makes your life a lot easier to start at the front. That was definitely a focus of ours this weekend.”
From Le Mans to Watkins Glen, Keating is quick
Fresh from his win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ben Keating kept the momentum going Saturday by winning the top starting spot in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class.
Keating, who won the GTE Am class at Le Mans on June 12, was clocked at 1:33.930 (130.309 mph) Saturday in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07 he shares with Mikkel Jensen and Scott Huffaker.
Keating won the Motul Pole Award by just 0.001 seconds over the team’s No. 11 ORECA driven by Steven Thomas. Keating’s lap was more than a second faster than his qualifying lap at Watkins Glen in 2021.
“That’s far and away the fastest lap I’ve ever done around Watkins Glen,” Keating said. “It’s a track that feels so good to do a really quick lap. … It’s just hard to imagine.”
First visit to The Glen? No problem for Varrone in LMP3
Nico Varrone made good use of his first visit to Watkins Glen.
Before Thursday, the Argentinian hadn’t seen WGI or worked with FastMD Racing. Two days later, he claimed the Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) pole with a lap of 1:40.028 (122.365 mph) in the No. 40 Duqueine D08 he co-drives with Max Hanratty and James Vance.
“It was amazing,” Varrone said. “I’m really happy. I’m really happy to be racing in America. It’s my first time and I’m enjoying it a lot. Everyone is amazing, the fans are amazing. It’s really cool. It’s not finished, the job. We have a long race tomorrow.”
The race – the seventh on the 2022 WeatherTech Championship schedule and third round of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup – begins at 10:40 a.m. ET Sunday, with flag-to-flag coverage live on Peacock. USA Network joins on TV at 2 p.m. It also will be carried live on IMSA Radio (including XM Radio 207 and SiriusXM Web/App 992) as well as the international stream on IMSA.com/TVLive.