Snow, No. 1 BMW Take Top Spot in GTD
By David Phillips
BRASELTON, Ga. – The late Al Davis, founder of the Oakland, ne Los Angeles, ne Oakland and now Las Vegas Raiders is famous for the mantra he laid out to his coaches and players: Just win baby.
While it’s highly doubtful Jack Hawksworth could pick the late Mr. Davis out of a lineup (let alone George Blanda, Ken Stabler or Derek Carr), he nevertheless would appreciate Davis’ sentiments. After all, with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) championship all but secured by the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, the best Hawksworth and the Vasser Sullivan Racing squad can do is finish runner-up in the points. And the best way to do that will be to win Saturday’s season finale, the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Hawksworth took the first step toward that goal Friday, hustling the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 around Michelin Raceway in a time of 1 minute, 18.835 seconds (115.988 mph) to claim the Motul Pole Award ahead of the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Alex Riberas.
“We rolled off the trailer fast yesterday and have had a really solid weekend,” said Hawksworth. “The boys have done a good job and it was just up to me to put a good lap together. It’s good to start up front; you can stay out of the mess on the first lap and then be in a good position to score some points. But regardless of points, this is a race you really want to win.”
Hawksworth is keen not only to win the Motul Petit Le Mans and claim second spot in the GTD PRO standings, but to beat their closest and highly respected rival in the bargain.
“We have a lot of respect for Corvette (Racing),” he said. “Beating them for second in the championship would be a good way to end the year, and the best way to do that will be to win the race.”
For their part, Corvette will start fifth on the GTD PRO grid after Antonio Garcia recorded a lap of 1:19.444 in the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R GTD and will take the green flag with the No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin, the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL BMW M4 GT3 and the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 between them and the pole sitter. Any hope that Garcia would challenge Hawksworth for the Motul Pole Award was dashed when he encountered slower cars on his qualifying run.
“My lap was decent but I feel like I had a tiny bit more,” he said. “It was difficult to put together with how the car behaved and how traffic was. Traffic interaction wasn’t great and that killed a little momentum. That’s the same for everyone.”
Snow Storms to GTD Pole
Madison Snow laid down a marker lap midway through qualifying, one none of his GT Daytona (GTD) competitors could eclipse – let alone come close to matching. Nevertheless, Snow put an exclamation point on the session with an even better lap in the closing moments of the session, finishing with a 1:19.118 (115.573 mph) in the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3 to claim the class pole. Together with co-drivers Bryan Sellers and Erik Johansson, Snow will go for the team’s third win of 2022 on Saturday.
“We were good when we showed up in the Paul Miller car,” said Snow, “and we stayed at the top of the time sheets throughout practice. So we knew we had something good and it was just a case of not messing it up, which made me kind of nervous. This is the team’s home track so, obviously, we want to do well here.
“My third lap was pretty good,” he continued, “and in the middle of the session I wanted to come in to pit lane because I didn’t think I could replicate it. I kept asking the team, ‘Should I come in? Should I come in?’ They said, ‘Stay out.’ So I went for another lap and cleaned up a couple of little things from the earlier lap.”
Snow’s final time was nearly four-tenths of a second quicker than second-fastest qualifier Robert Megennis in the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3. Jaden Conwright confirmed the Lamborghini’s pace by posting the third-fastest time in the No. 42 NTE/SSR Huracán.
The WeatherTech Championship GTD title remains very much up for grabs following qualifying. The points-leading No. 27 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 qualified fourth in the hands of Roman De Angelis, two spots better than the closest rival, the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Stevan McAleer. The No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (third in points) will start ninth, two spots behind the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (fourth in points).
Forty-three cars are entered across the five classes competing at Michelin Raceway. NBC’s live race coverage runs from noon-3 p.m. ET Saturday. USA Network will pick up the coverage at 7 p.m. through the checkered flag. Peacock and IMSA Radio have flag-to-flag coverage starting at noon.