Bourdais Sets Track Record for Pole; Taylor, Snow Take GTD PRO, GTD Poles
Sebastien Bourdais was a satisfied man after shattering the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship track record for the Long Beach street course by nearly two seconds.
Bourdais uncorked a lap of the 1.968-mile, 11-corner circuit timed at 1 minute, 9.472 seconds (101.980 mph) in the No. 01 Cadillac DPi-V.R to lead Alex Lynn in a Chip Ganassi Racing 1-2. The sizzling effort eclipsed the prior Daytona Prototype International (DPi) benchmark of 1:11.332 established by Helio Castroneves in 2019 and earned Bourdais and Cadillac the Motul Pole Award for Saturday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the third of 10 rounds in the 2022 WeatherTech Championship.
It was the 43-year-old Frenchman’s fourth career IMSA pole, and his second consecutive, coming on the heels of his field-leading effort at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.
Now the challenge he and teammate Renger van der Zande face is to turn that one-lap pace into their first victory of the season in the 100-minute Long Beach sprint contest after a pair of troubled endurance races to open the 2022 campaign.
“Thanks to the Ganassi boys, because that No. 01 Cadillac was quite awesome to drive,” Bourdais said. “It’s been a long time since I got to do a qualifying lap where everything felt under control, and I just had to be clean and get the potential from the car. That was a great feeling.”
Bourdais and Lynn remained in the pits for the first five minutes of the 15-minute DPi qualifying session. Pipo Derani set the early pace in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac with a 1:10.001 lap that already undercut Castroneves’ three-year-old track record.
Derani was confident enough in his time to park the AXR Cadillac with five minutes remaining. But he was relegated to fourth, his time eclipsed not only by Lynn (1:09.833 in the No. 02 Ganassi Cadillac) but by Tom Blomqvist in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05 (1:09.939).
All six competitors in the DPi class lapped under the existing track record.
Bourdais said that the Michelin tires used by all WeatherTech Championship competitors gripped up well in Friday’s intense heat, which featured track temperatures exceeding 140 degrees.
But the Saturday forecast is much cooler, with ambient temperatures expected in the low 70s, a twenty-five degree drop.
Jordan Taylor was always in the hunt for the GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) Motul Pole Award on Friday at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. He just waited until the last possible instant to clinch it.
Through the first 10 minutes of the 15-minute IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying session, Taylor’s No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R GTD traded fast times with Connor De Phillippi’s No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M4 GT3 and the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche GT3 R of Mathieu Jaminet. All were within a tenth of a second of De Phillippi’s hot lap of 1 minute, 18.115 seconds. Figuring there was no more left in the BMW, De Phillippi pitted with under three minutes left in the session. Jaminet followed suit a minute later.
Undeterred, Taylor kept after it and hustled around the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street circuit in 1:18.048 to grab the pole just after the checkered flag waved.
“We definitely put a lot of emphasis on qualifying,” Taylor said. “The times were really tight. I thought my first lap (1:18.173) was quite good, so I was a little disappointed when Connor beat it. I didn’t know that I could go quicker but I thought I’d give it a try. I knew the fuel load would burn off. As a driver, you can’t always feel that, but the car gets quicker. The balance also changed the more laps I did, it shifted to more oversteer, which is what I needed.”
De Phillippi finished second in qualifying, but the No. 25 BMW’s fastest laps were nullified for violating the maximum engine speed permitted by GTD technical regulations. That moved Jaminet to second on the class grid, with Ross Gunn slotting into third in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
The pole was the first for Corvette Racing in the new GTD PRO class, though Taylor did take qualifying honors last year at Long Beach in the No. 3 Corvette in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class that preceded GTD PRO. Taylor and co-driver Antonio Garcia (along with endurance driver Nicky Catsburg) are coming off a class win last month in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.
GT Daytona (GTD)
It doesn’t matter what car Madison Snow is driving for Paul Miller Racing. He’s a standout qualifier and racer at Long Beach.
For the second straight year, Snow collected the Motul Pole Award in GT Daytona (GTD) driving the No. 1 PMR entry on the Southern California street course. This time, however, it came in the BMW M4 GT3 that the team switched to for 2022 after campaigning a Lamborghini Huracán GT3 since 2016.
Snow and co-driver Bryan Sellers will look to repeat their 2021 GTD win in Saturday’s 100-minute race. PMR is still playing catch-up after missing the 2022 season opener, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, while still prepping the new car. With only the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in the new BMW to date, Snow admitted to jitters heading into qualifying on the tight Long Beach circuit.
“It’s a new car for us, the BMW this year, so I was incredibly nervous going into qualifying on a street course,” Snow said. “This car definitely feels wide and only racing Sebring so far, it’s like where exactly are the corners on the car and are we going to find it out in qualifying? Thankfully, we didn’t hit anything there.”
Snow had to overtake fellow BMW driver Robby Foley to collect his seventh career WeatherTech Championship pole. Foley, in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3, took the provisional top spot with four minutes left in the 15-minute session. It stayed that way until the final minute, when Snow was clocked at 1 minute, 18.487 seconds to break by nearly a half-second the GTD track record set in 2021 by Laurens Vanthoor.
“I was on pole early in the session and wanted to come in,” Snow said. “My engineer told me I needed to stay out on track so I listened to him. The other BMW ended up getting me by a tenth and so I went around for one more lap at the end, got better off Turn 11 and got the pole.”
Foley wound up 0.112 seconds behind Snow but the No. 96 BMW had its three fastest laps disallowed for exceeding the maximum engine speed permitted by GTD technical regulations. It elevated to second in GTD qualifying the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Mike Skeen, 0.431 seconds off Snow’s pole time.
Saturday’s race airs live on USA Network at 2 p.m. PT.