The No. 3 Cadillac and No. 75 Porsche Make It into the Top Eight in the Hypercar Class
By Holly Cain
LE MANS, France – The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series was well represented in opening qualifying Wednesday for this weekend’s “Centenary” celebration of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the 8.467-mile Circuit de la Sarthe.
Two entries that normally compete full-time in the WeatherTech Championship’s Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class qualified in the top eight of the Hypercar class at Le Mans. They’ll advance to Hyperpole qualifying on Thursday when the top eight cars in each of the three race classes – Hypercar, LMP2 and GTE AM – from Wednesday’s session will formally settle their class pole position and front four starting rows.
Sebastien Bourdais turned a best lap of 3 minutes, 25.924 seconds in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R that ranked sixth fastest at the end of the session. Felipe Nasr had the No. 75 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 initially in the sixth spot, but stewards deleted two of Nasr’s qualifying laps that dropped him to eighth with a top circuit of 3:26.589.
With less than 20 minutes remaining in the hour-long qualifying session, a pair of Ferraris claimed the top overall positions, besting the 62-car full field and 16-car Hypercar class with a time of 3:25.213 by Antonio Fuoco in the No. 50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P – a slight 0.199 seconds faster than his teammate Alessandro Pier Guidi in the No. 51 AF Corse entry.
Pietro Fittipaldi, who competed in the WeatherTech Championship’s opening two races of the season at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, claimed top preliminary qualifying honors in the 24-car Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class. His lap of 3:34.751 in the No. 28 JOTA ORECA 07-Gibson (shown at right) was a mere 0.002 seconds better than Louis Deletraz in the No. 41 Team WRT ORECA. Deletraz has split his time this season in the WeatherTech Championship between Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport in GTP and Tower Motorsports in LMP2.
Nicky Catsburg, a part of the Corvette Racing teams that won last year’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in the GTD PRO class and the 2021 Rolex 24 At Daytona in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, posted the third-fastest time in the No. 33 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R in the GTE AM class with a lap of 3.52.228. A pair of Ferrari 488 GTE Evos, piloted by drivers with WeatherTech Championship endurance-race experience, were the only cars to surpass the Corvette. Alessio Rovera was fastest in class in the No. 83 Richard Mille AF Corse Ferrari at 3:51.877, followed by Davide Rigon in the No. 54 AF Corse Ferrari at 3:51.914.
The NASCAR Garage 56 Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is competing in the single-car “Innovative Car” class and recorded an impressive lap of 3:47.976 thanks to sports car veteran Mike Rockenfeller. Rockenfeller recently rejoined the WeatherTech Championship fulltime as a co-driver of the No. 5 JDC-Miller MotorSports Porsche 963 – IMSA’s first customer GTP car.
The 30-minute Hyperpole qualifying session begins at 2 p.m. ET Thursday. The centennial anniversary running of the race starts at 10 a.m. ET Saturday.