Keating Takes Third LMP2 Pole of 2023, Garg Earns First LMP3 Pole
By Jeff Olson
INDIANAPOLIS – It’s shaping up to be quite a weekend for Porsche Penske Motorsport.
The team claimed the front row for the TireRack.com Battle on the Bricks – the first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 2014 – with Matt Campbell winning the Motul Pole Award in the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class on Saturday.
Mathieu Jaminet drove the other Penske Porsche 963 to the second starting position for Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race at IMS, which is owned by team owner Roger Penske.
“We want to perform well at home and put on a good show,” Campbell said. “Obviously at such an event, with Roger owning the circuit, we have a lot of supporters and sponsors along as well.”
Campbell was clocked at 1 minute, 13.672 seconds (119.182 mph) in the No. 7 Porsche 963 he co-drives with Felipe Nasr. Jaminet completed the sweep with a lap of 1:13.824 (118.936 mph) in the No. 6 Porsche 963 he shares with Nick Tandy.
Campbell said the team worked on consistency over the three sectors of IMS’ 14-turn, 2.439-mile road-course layout to string together strong overall laps.
“We’re not necessarily shining in one (sector) at the moment,” Campbell said. “I think we can just really put together a lap quite well, whereas with everyone else we’ve seen a lot of mistakes in practice with brake-locking and running off track. We have as well, but I feel like a lot less as some of the other competitors.”
Meanwhile, Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque gained three points in their WeatherTech Championship GTP battle against Pipo Derani and Alexander Sims. Taylor had the fifth-fastest lap in GTP in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06, while Derani was eighth in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R.
Taylor and Albuquerque now lead Derani and Sims by 17 points in GTP with just two races remaining in the 2023 season.
Sunday’s TireRack.com Battle on the Bricks will be televised live on NBC at 1 p.m. ET.
Keating Claims Third Pole of Season in LMP2
Ben Keating took advantage of some critical changes to his car to secure the Motul Pole Award in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class.
“We made a bunch of big changes and are delighted to start up front and get those extra bonus points,” said Keating, who logged a best qualifying lap of 1:17.950 (112.641 mph) en route to his third pole position of the season following earlier Motul Pole Awards at Daytona and Sebring. “Something I’ve been working hard on this whole year is to bring my tires up to temperature as quickly as I can. The fastest laps usually come at the very end because it takes so long to get your tires up to temperature.”
Keating was fastest at the end. Driving the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07 he co-drives with Paul-Loup Chatin, Keating was leading George Kurtz’s No. 04 Crowdstrike Racing by APR ORECA before Le Mans Prototype (LMP3) championship leader Gar Robinson went off course and struck the tire barrier with his No. 74 Riley Ligier JS P320 late in the LMP2/LMP3 session.
The crash resulted in a red flag, but the session resumed with two minutes, 50 seconds remaining. Keating then improved his time to secure the LMP2 pole. Kurtz, who co-drives the No. 04 with Ben Hanley, will start second in class with a best lap of 1:18.390 (112.008 mph).
Keating’s qualifying effort further expanded the class championship lead he and Chatin share over Steven Thomas and Mikkel Jensen in the No. 11 TDS Racing ORECA. Thomas had the third-fastest lap in LMP2 at 1:18.623 (111.676 mph).
Garg Grabs First WeatherTech Championship Pole in LMP3
Bijoy Garg emerged triumphant in LMP3 qualifying with a lap of 1:20.513 (109.055 mph) in the No. 29 Jr III Racing Ligier JS P320 he co-drives with Guilherme de Oliveira.
“It felt pretty easy, but it was a real team effort,” Garg said after collecting his first WeatherTech Championship pole in just his second race. “After practice, we had that speed and it allowed me to be relaxed and deliver the lap. That was really helpful. The car was amazing, probably the best P3s I’ve ever had.”
Nolan Siegel was 0.521 seconds behind at 1:20.982 (108.423 mph) in the team’s sister car, the No. 30 Ligier JS P320 that he co-drives with Garett Grist. Orey Fidani will start third in LMP3 with a best lap of 1:22.093 (106.956 mph) in the No. 13 AWA Duqueine D08 he shares with Matthew Bell.
Robinson emerged from the No. 74 car uninjured and will start eighth in class in Sunday’s race.