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Rd Plm 22 700 2022 09 30

No. 60 Acura Keeps Pressure on with Motul Petit Le Mans Pole

The DPi Points Deficit Is Just 14 to the No. 10 Acura; Thomas Takes LMP2 Pole, van Berlo in LMP3

 

By Jeff Olson

 

Qualifying Results

BRASELTON, Ga. – How important were five points to Tom Blomqvist? Enough to push his car to the very edge.

 

Blomqvist gained five points on the leading contenders for the championship by winning the Motul Pole Award in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class for Saturday’s 25th annual Motul Petit Le Mans.

 

His lap of 1 minute, 8.555 seconds (133.381 mph) in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05 was two positions ahead of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 driven by Ricky Taylor, pulling Blomqvist and co-driver Oliver Jarvis within 14 points of Taylor and his co-driver, Filipe Albuquerque, heading into the 10-hour finale.

 

The 35 points for pole – and the five-point improvement over the No. 10 car – were the impetus behind Blomqvist’s white-knuckle lap.

 

“Basically, I knew we needed to outqualify them just to make our lives a little bit less difficult come tomorrow,” Blomqvist said. “We did that, but it’s 10 hours of racing. You know what it’s like here in IMSA. I’m predicting quite a lot of yellows and stuff like that. It’s going to be a proper dogfight to the end.”

 

The championship essentially comes down to a winner-take-all scenario: The No. 60 car has to finish just one position ahead of the No. 10 to win the championship – unless the No. 60 finishes fifth. If that happens, the No. 10 has to finish seventh for the No. 60 to claim the title. The No. 10 only has to finish ahead of the No. 60 in any scenario.

 

As soon as he started to press his Acura, Blomqvist knew he had a chance at the pole and the precious points that went with it.

 

“I knew basically when I turned into Turn 1 on my first push lap that we’ve got a chance here,” Blomqvist said. “It just gave me the little bit of extra energy I needed to give it absolutely everything.”

 

With 5 minutes, 30 seconds left in the session, Taylor slid off course but continued. His best lap – 1:08.802 – was good for third in the seven-car DPi field. Earl Bamber, who recorded a lap of 1:08.788, will start on the front row in the No. 02 Cadillac Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R he shares with Alex Lynn and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

 

The final qualifying for the DPi class, which will be replaced next season by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class, saw seven cars separated by little more than half a second over the 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit.

 

“It’s a testament to the type of racing IMSA generates and creates and how close this series can be,” said Blomqvist, who with Jarvis will be joined by Helio Castroneves as the third team driver. “I’m hoping we put on a great show tomorrow. I know my team is super motivated. It’s nice when you can see something, right? It gives you that little bit more.”

 

A little bit more was just enough.

 

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.

 

Thomas Takes Qualifying Honors in LMP2

 

By Mark Robinson

Lmp2 Qual 2022 09 30

Steven Thomas won his second straight Le Mans Prototype 2 pole and third this season in the No. 11 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07. But it was by no means a cakewalk. Thomas’ top lap, 1:11.939 (127.107 mph), was just 0.082 seconds quicker than Dennis Andersen in the No. 20 High Class Racing ORECA.

 

Thomas was all smiles after earning his sixth career Motul Pole Award.

 

“We had a great car,” the 55-year-old said. “It’s a lot of fun when you’re my age to be able to drive a car that fast around a track like this. The car was just stuck to the road so it was a lot of fun.

 

“We have two (team) cars so we were able to use those over the weekend to try to find the best setup and it seems like we found it. It was a good car today.”

 

The LMP2 class features nearly separate battles for the team and driver championships. The No. 11’s sister car, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen ORECA, leads the team standings by 21 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA. Ben Keating qualified the No. 52 in third, one spot ahead of John Farano in the No. 8.

 

Farano added three points to his LMP2 driver standings lead, expanding it to 36 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel after Merriman qualified sixth in the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA.

 

Van Berlo Regroups to Capture LMP3 Pole Award

 

Lmp3 Qual 2 2022 09 30

Kay van Berlo cast aside frustration from earlier in the day to win the Motul Pole Award in Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) qualifying. The talented Dutch driver set an LMP3 track record in the process.

 

Van Berlo’s top lap of 1:15.517 (121.075 mph) came after the checkered flag and edged Malthe Jakobsen by a scant 0.108 seconds. It put the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 that van Berlo shares with Gar Robinson and Felipe Fraga on the LMP3 pole for Saturday’s race and, maybe more importantly, trims the No. 74’s deficit to 74 points in arrears of the No. 54 CORE autosport Ligier.

 

Van Berlo was visibly distraught earlier Friday when his chance to win the Porsche Carrera Cup North America championship ended with an early exit in that race. He knew that dwelling on that would do no good when it was time to qualify in LMP3.

 

“This morning was really disappointing, but at the end of the day you’ve got to move on,” van Berlo said. “You can’t really change what happens in the past. Even though I’m still really disappointed about what happened this morning, it is what it is. At the end today, we want to win the championship in LMP3 so I’ve got to change my mind and move on and get the car on pole and score good points. And that’s what we did.”

 

The No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier that Jakobsen shares with Joao Barbosa and Nico Pino will start second. The No. 54 CORE Ligier, with co-drivers Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and George Kurtz earned the fifth starting spot in the eight-car class. The No. 54 still clinches the LMP3 title by finishing fourth or better on Saturday, but van Berlo said the No. 74 team isn’t giving up.

 

“At the end of the day, you just want to win Petit and that’s how you get the most points,” he said. “For me, tomorrow is just about being at the front of the pack in the final hour.”