After showing promise at both Long Beach and Laguna Seca, the absence of the California landscape may have returned the LMP2-eligible cars of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship back to their former form on Friday, as Chevrolet Corvette DPs controlled the qualification proceedings and will start from the first four spots of the grid in advance of Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at the Raceway at Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan.
Led by Action Express Racing’s Christian Fittipaldi, the fastest Daytona Prototype during Friday’s qualifying session was over a second faster on the 2.36 mile street layout when compared to the fastest session LMP2-style lap, posted by Michael Shank Racing guest driver Katherine Legge. The Chevrolet inter-squad tussle was still a competitive outing Friday, as the Brazilian’s fast lap of one minute, 23.815 seconds narrowly snagged the TOTAL Pole Award by just 48 one thousandths of a second over Visitflorida.com Racing’s Marc Goossens who will start from the outside of row number one.
The performance in time trials, more than backed up the pace shown by the Gary Nelson-led team seen earlier on Friday. Fittipaldi’s co-driver Joao Barbosa topped the timing charts in the morning efforts, and the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP was second behind its sister car driven by Dane Cameron in the pre-qualifying period.
Cameron, who alongside teammate Eric Curran won last year’s event on the streets of Detroit, were unable to backup their pace shown earlier in the afternoon in the final session however, as Curran struggled and only managed the fourth spot on the grid for Saturday. The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette DP, was narrowly edged for position number three by the Wayne Taylor Racing, Konica-Minolta Corvette of Ricky and Jordan Taylor.
This weekend will be a marathon of sorts for the Taylors, as after the checkered flag falls on Saturday afternoon, the siblings will board a flight across the Atlantic Ocean to Paris and then to Le Mans, for the official test day Sunday for the 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Also participating in the two continent fight will be Michael Shank Racing, who will start fifth on Saturday in Detroit. Michael Shank Racing is contesting the French enduro for the first time this year.
In Prototype Challenge, PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports pilot Robert Alon earned the TOTAL Pole Award with a one minute, 27.571 second effort, putting co-driver Tom Kimber-Smith and himself in prime position to claim their second straight IMSA win after taking the top step of the podium at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last month. Alon’s run was good enough to top second fastest PC qualifier James French of Performance Tech Motorsports by about two and a half tenths of a second.
After topping the charts in practice earlier on Friday, Starworks Motorsport’s Alex Popow qualified third on the grid, with Daytona and Long Beach winner Misha Goikhberg of JDC-Miller Motorsports filling out the second row. Saturday in the Motor City will be a test for reigning PC champions CORE autosport however, as team owner Jon Bennett only managed to post the fifth fastest time in Friday qualifying.
Finally in the GT Daytona division, Bryan Sellers of Paul Miller Racing placed a Lamborghini Huracan on the TOTAL Pole Position Award for the first time ever on Friday, a significant bounce back following monetary and manufacturer points penalties suffered by the manufacturer following the season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona. Sellers toured the Belle Isle circuit in one minute, 31.340 seconds to secure the head spot for the grand touring start by a scant 11 one thousandths of a second over the Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 of Patrick Lindsey.
Audi is well represented in the top half of the GTD field, with Stevenson Motorsports placing two cars in the first five positions. Robin Liddell was best among the squad, placing the No. 6 Audi R8 in position number three, while Matt Bell in the No. 9 entry qualified fifth. A second Lamborghini is featured as well up front as Spencer Pumpelly placed the No. 16 Change Racing Huracan in fourth. Normally a two-car team in IMSA competition, Change features only a single entry at Belle Isle this weekend, as regular teammates Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell are across the Atlantic Ocean awaiting the 24 Hours of Le Mans test day, which is set for Sunday at Circuit de la Sarthe.
The 100-minute timed event at Belle Isle, gets the green flag at 12:40 p.m. eastern time on Saturday.
Stay tuned to OnPitRoad.com for continuing coverage of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.