Two manufacturers with storied histories in North American sports car competition added another chapter at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Saturday in qualifying for Sunday’s Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix.
Porsche scored the first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship pole position with its new-for-2017 911 RSR race car in GT Le Mans (GTLM) class qualifying, while Lexus got its first-ever WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class pole. The two-hour, 40-minute race will be televised live on FS1 beginning at Noon ET on Sunday, with live coverage also supplied by IMSA Radio on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.
Dirk Werner did the honors for Porsche in GTLM, posting a best qualifying lap of 1 minute, 14.085 seconds (119.489 mph) in the No. 911 RSR. It was his second in WeatherTech Championship competition – the first coming in a BMW at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2015 – and the seventh of his major U.S. sports car career (1 GRAND-AM pole, 4 in ALMS competition).
“I think the team did great today,” Werner said. “It’s the first pole, and every time you come with a new car, there are certain things you want to achieve and today is the first car. We hope to come back tomorrow and continue with the good we’re carrying today.”
It was the first GTLM pole for Porsche since Nick Tandy took the top starting spot for the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 449th in the German manufacturer’s long history of major U.S. sports car competition, which is 99 more than Chevrolet, the next closest competitor.
Qualifying second in GTLM was last week’s winner in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, Bill Auberlen in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM. Auberlen posted a best time of 1:14.103 (119.460 mph).
Laurens Vanthoor made it two Porsches in the top three, clocking a best time of 1:14.251 (119.222 mph) in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team entry. Vanthoor posted the quickest times in both of Friday’s practice sessions in the car he is sharing with Gianmaria Bruni.
The entire GTLM field was covered by 0.819 seconds.
Karam Earns Maiden TOTAL Pole Award for Lexus
In GTD qualifying, Sage Karam scored the first WeatherTech Championship TOTAL Pole Award for himself and the first-year Lexus RC F GT3 program fielded by 3GT Racing.
Karam clocked a best time of 1:16.563 (115.622 mph) in the No. 14 Lexus he co-drives with Hall of Famer Scott Pruett. While it was the first pole for Lexus in the WeatherTech Championship, it was the manufacturer’s 25th in major U.S. sports car competition with 24 previous poles in GRAND-AM.
The pole also offered some consolation to Lexus and 3GT Racing, after Jack Hawksworth had a big crash in Saturday morning practice in the No. 15 Lexus – which kept the car out of qualifying and left the team scrambling to repair the car in time for the race. Hawksworth was not injured in the accident.
“It’s obviously very good to get the first pole of the season,” Karam said. “I feel it’s been long awaited. We either made some mistakes in qualifying or something happened and we weren’t able to capitalize on the position. Today, everything went right and the (No.) 15 had rough day this morning. The Lexus was hooked up. The car was planted. I just had to drive it.”
It was the 10th consecutive GTD qualifying session with a different driver qualifying on the pole, dating back to Madison Snow’s pole at VIRginia International Raceway last August.
Andrew Davis qualified second in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 with a best time of 1:16.725 (115.378 mph), followed by Jeff Segal in the No. 86 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 at 1:16.828 (115.223 mph).
Bryan Sellers qualified fourth in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 at 1:17.106 (114.808 mph), and Christina Nielsen made it five different manufacturers in the GTD top five at 1:17.149 (114.744 mph) in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3.