Bachler, Pilet Claim Top Honors in GTD PRO for Porsche
By John Oreovicz
INDIANAPOLIS – The hits just keep coming for Madison Snow, Bryan Sellers and Paul Miller Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Snow secured the team’s third consecutive Motul Pole Award in the No. 1 BMW M4 GT3 Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, lapping the famous venue’s 2.439-mile road course in 1 minute, 23.075 seconds (105.692 mph). That made Snow’s entry in the Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) class the fastest overall qualifier of all GT competitors for the TireRack.com Battle on the Bricks, narrowly edging GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) leader Klaus Bachler in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) by just 0.065 seconds.
Mikael Grenier was the second fastest GTD qualifier in the No. 32 Korthoff Preston Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 that he shares with Mike Skeen, but they will start sixth on the GT grid behind a quartet of GTD PRO competitors. Patrick Gallagher was third in GTD in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW, nearly 0.6 seconds adrift of Snow in the Paul Miller BMW.
The pole-winning effort for Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race puts Snow and Sellers in position to claim their sixth GTD victory of the year. If the No. 1 BMW maintains their 385-point lead following Sunday’s race, they will lock up the class championship.
But don’t expect a conservative effort from the 27-year-old Utah native and his team.
“I’m here to bring home some hardware,” Snow declared, “so we’re going to do what we’ve done all year and just run the best race we can. It’s worked for us, and we don’t want to switch anything up now.”
Snow admitted that traffic from the robust 48-car field frustrated him during practice on the Indianapolis road course. With qualifying split into groups and only the 21 GT cars on track, he was able to find clear track and get into a rhythm.
“In practice, I did a mock quali run, and it was traffic, traffic, traffic,” Snow said after earning his 12th career pole in IMSA competition. “I was (mad) at myself and overdriving the car.
“So, qualifying was nice to just be out there, get clean track, find your spot and go,” he added. “Yes, I think we made small improvements to the car, but in qualifying we were able to do what the car could do.”
He ended the 15-minute qualifying session realizing he was fastest in GTD but didn’t know he had outqualified all of the GTD PRO entries as well. Snow made that discovery when he parked in the pits and saw his No. 1 on top of the iconic lighted IMS scoring pylon in his rearview mirror.
“That was really special,” he said.
Pfaff Still in the Fight in GTD PRO
Bachler knew he had big shoes to fill with Pfaff Motorsports, which graduated its 2022 GTD PRO championship drivers to the WeatherTech Championship’s top Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class.
Bachler and No. 9 co-driver Patrick Pilet have sometimes struggled with the latest 992 iteration of the iconic 911 GT3. But the duo was victorious early in the ’23 campaign at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, and they have added five other podium finishes.
By securing the Motul Pole Award at Indianapolis for the GTD PRO class, Bachler shaved five points off their deficit to class leaders Jack Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3. Bachler and Pilet rank third in the standings, 245 points behind the lead Lexus, with the No. 3 Corvette Racing duo of Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia in between.
“Qualifying was never easy the last few weekends,” said Bachler, who also earned the Motul Pole Award prior to the Pfaff team’s victory at Sebring. “I’m very happy about this – we did everything perfect and managed to put the car on pole. I think it was the maximum we could do today.
“It’s a front-row start tomorrow, so anything is possible for this race,” he continued. “There are a lot of opportunities for tomorrow, and also for Petit Le Mans. We still have a chance for the championship, even though second place is more realistic. That’s still very good.”
Jules Gounon ran second fastest to Bachler in GTD PRO, clocking 1:23.290 in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, followed by championship leaders Hawksworth and Barnicoat at 1:23.345.
Live coverage for the TireRack.com Battle on the Bricks starts at 1 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC and IMSA Radio.