By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
WATKINS GLEN, New York — Dane Cameron obliterated the track record first but Oliver Jarvis set the ultimate mark as the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P DPi entry qualified on pole position for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s sixth race of the 2019 season, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Cameron set the early mark as his first flying lap in qualifying was a 1 minute, 30.613 second lap, nearly two seconds faster than last year’s pole position lap set by Colin Braun. That lap would be bested late in the DPi/LMP2 qualifying window as Jarvis went nearly a whole second faster with a 1 minute, 29.639 second lap around the 11 turn, 3.4 mile road course to average 136.577 mph around Watkins Glen International.
“I just had so much confidence to push and attack and it was a real pleasure to drive,” said Jarvis. “From this year to last year there was a huge step with the tires, not sure how much quicker [..] we are but that just adds to the enjoyment for a driver.
“There’s so much grip, it’s such a pleasure for every driver to drive here so definitely one of my favorites. It’s one of the great things about coming to IMSA, there’s so many amazing tracks but for us today i have to say I’m really pleased with that one. Struggled a little bit all weekend with the car balance, the team did an amazing job overnight and this morning and the car’s just fantastic in qualifying when it mattered.”
This was Mazda’s third pole position of the year after the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio. Both Mazda entries retired at Daytona but finished second and third at Mid-Ohio. The Japanese manufacturer is the only one to not have a win since IMSA went to the DPi concept for the top class but off-track frustration has been mounting.
“I’m looking forward to the day when we don’t have to discuss [a first win]. We’re getting there, we’re going to get on with the race. It’s coming,” said Jarvis. “I hope we can do it tomorrow, I think we’ve got two very strong race cars and qualifying’s one thing but we also have a good race car. I’d like to say after this weekend we might not have to talk about our first win. It’s on its way, we’re going to do everything we can but at the moment I think we have to appreciate the progression.”
In GTLM, Corvette leads the eight car class with Antonio Garcia turning in a lap of 1 minute, 40.799 seconds. Richard Westbrook was second fastest in the No. 67 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing with a lap of 1 minute, 41.116 seconds.
In GTD, Trent Hindman and Christina Nielsen gave Meyer Shank Racing a lockout of the front row with the pair of Acura NSX GT3 Evo entries leading the 15 car class.
Hindman qualified the No. 86 AutoNation/SiriusXM car on pole with a lap of 1 minute, 44.978 seconds ahead of Christina Nielsen in the No. 57 Caterpillar entry with a 1 minute, 45.295 second lap time.
The Sahlen’s Six Hour of the Glen starts at 9:45 a.m. on Sunday. It can be viewed in its entirety on the NBCSN app or on NBCSN at 7:00 p.m. for a three hour broadcast.