By IMSA Wire Service
MONTEREY, Calif. – Oliver Gavin now has 22 career pole positions in IMSA competition, but it’s been a long time coming.
Gavin put the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class pole for the America’s Tire 250 with a best lap of one minute, 22.700 seconds (97.421 mph) during Saturday’s 15-minute qualifying session at the 2.238-mile WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. It was the first time the decorated English sports car racer qualified on pole since the 2015 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
“Thanks to everyone and the crew, it’s a maximum team effort to get us back to being on P1,” Gavin said. “It’s been a while for myself. I’m thrilled, but this is only a small step in what we’re trying to achieve tomorrow and that’s a victory.
“Once the green flag drops tomorrow, this is kind of a little forgotten. I think we’ve got a great race car. The car fell in a little nicely for qualifying, but the C7.R has been strong all year. We’ve had an amazing team, great strategies and pit stops. We just need to once again, execute tomorrow. The competition is at an all-time high in GTLM. To be able to beat those guys here today is pretty satisfying, but tomorrow, is when the real work starts.”
It appeared for much of the qualifying session that Corvette Racing would take a front-row sweep in GTLM. But German racer Dirk Mueller found some late speed in the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT to take second on the starting grid with a lap of 1:22.787 (97.319 mph). It’s a particularly valuable starting spot, as it placed Mueller – who alongside co-driver Joey Hand is battling for the 2018 WeatherTech Championship GTLM title – ahead of both cars he’s pursuing in the title chase.
Points co-leader Jan Magnussen qualified third in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R with a lap of 1:22.806 (97.297 mph). Magnussen and co-driver Antonio Garcia go into Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race leading No. 67 Ford GT co-drivers Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook by four points, and they’re nine ahead of Mueller and Hand.
Briscoe qualified fourth in the No. 67 at 1:22.850 (97.245 mph). Alexander Sims completed the GTLM top five at 1:22.972 (97.102 mph) in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE.
The America’s Tire 250 is the headline event of the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix. It will be televised live on Sunday, Sept. 9 beginning at 5 p.m. EDT on FS1. Live IMSA Radio coverage also will be available on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 119/XM 202/App 972).
Tickets are available now at WeatherTechRaceway.com.