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Ford & Lexus Set Pole Times At VIR

Westbrook and Hawksworth score Brit driver double

Rain clouds loomed over the Virginia International Raceway and provided difficult conditions for the teams to deal with in the pair of fifteen minute sessions each for GT Daytona and GT Le Mans.

GTLM was the second class to run and had to deal with a track that was very much half wet and half dry with a majority of the contenders opting for wet tyres.

The championship leading #67 Ford GT was put onto pole by Richard Westbrook with a time of 1:55.580 (though not faster than GTD, the GTLM contenders will still start the race ahead of the GTD field.) Westbrook completed just three laps, all in the second half of the session to take advantage of the drying track.

“It was great fun… we left it late and I wanted to go slicks but they perused me to go for wets.” Said Westbrook. “The tyres were good at the end because we hadn’t been pounding around all session… at this stage in the season it was an important pole!”

Patrick Pilet in the #911 Porsche 911 RSR will roll off from second after a 1:56.170, also coming on wet tyres late in the session.

BMW was within touching distance of a pole position with John Edwards but was bumped down to third following the late laps from Westbrook and Pilet. Edwards in the #24 BMW M8 GTE put in a time of 1:56.185, even after making small contact with the turn three barrier in the first half of the session.

The #912 Porsche 911 RSR with Earl Bamber, and the #25 BMW M8 GTE with Connor De Phillipi also took trips off track in the wet conditions, neither hitting the barrier, but adding a pack of grass to the front grill of both cars.

For GTD all of the teams were able to complete quick laps before the rain put a (literal) damper on lap times and in the end it was the #15 3GT Racing Lexus RC-F GT3 with Jack Hawksworth putting in a time of 1:44.107. A strong rebound for the team who had to go to a spare chassis for this weekend after a shunt last time out at Road America for the #15 Lexus.

“It started to spit at the beginning of the session…” said Hawksworth, “…and when it started to sprinkle more I knew I had to pick it up from there.”

Second in class was Jeroen Bleekemolen and the Team Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3. That car had shown promise in the practice sessions earlier this weekend and finished qualifying just two tenths of a second behind the top time.

Bill Auberlen behind-the-wheel of the Turner Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 qualified that car third with a 1:44.360.

Patrick Long who was looking for his third pole in a row for the Wright Motorsports Porsche GT3 R came just short of that goal after the American had a spin at Oak Tree corner on his fastest lap and ended the session just sixth in class.

The Michelin GT Challenge from VIR begins at 16:55 UTC and can be watched online at IMSA.tv outside the United States, and on Fox Sports within the U.S.