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TUSCC: Circuit of the Americas, Qualifying Report, Ligier Honda on Pole, Viper in GTLM after Porsche Drama

Alex Brundle continued his dominant streak and clinched pole in Friday evening’s qualifying session with a 1:57.809, a new qualifying lap record. This comes as a landmark result for the Ligier JS P2 chassis, which is only just making its North American debut. With HPD power onboard, Brundle was able to beat out the #10 Corvette DP of Ricky Taylor to pole position by .834 seconds. The #01 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost/Riley of Memo Rojas was able to finish out the top three in class with a 1:58.928 on his final flying lap.

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Driving his #25 8Star Motorsports ORECA FLM09 to a 2:00.528, rising star Sean Rayhall took pole in PC class qualifying, a session briefly interrupted by a red flag period following an accident for the #38 Performance Tech entry with David Ostella onboard. Polesitter Rayhall was more than half a second quicker than his nearest rival, the #54 CORE Autosport entry with Colin Braun at the controls. Despite strong outings in every practice session, RSR failed to deliver as good a qualifying run as one would have hoped: Bruno Junqueira (#09) managed third while Jack Hawksworth stopped on course before completing a lap.

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The #93 Dodge Viper SRT of Jonathan Bomarito took GTLM pole courtesy of a 2:03.539. After post-qualifying tech inspection found a missing camera pod on the roof of the provisional polesitter, the #910 Porsche North America 911 RSR, Patrick Pilet’s 2:03.302 was disallowed, promoting Bomarito to class pole. The other two bullets in the Porsche gun, meanwhile, made up for Pilet’s woes and qualified second and third, with the #911 of Nick Tandy and Jörg Bergmeister leading the #912 sister car of Michael Christensen and Patrick Long by .251 seconds.

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In GTD, it was James Davison who grabbed a third consecutive class pole in the #007 TRG-AMR Vantage he shares with Al Carter. Davison, setting a 2:08.502, beating out the #33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT of Jeroen Bleekemolen, the quickest in the final practice session immediately before. The Dutchman trailed to Davison by only .312 seconds, while championship co-leader Dane Cameron, driving a specially-numbered #300 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 this weekend, was only .012 seconds adrift of Bleekemolen. Cameron’s championship rival, Townsend Bell, could only manage 15th in class in his #555 AIM Autosport Ferrari 458 Italia.

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Beck Duggleby