As difficult as it may be to believe, given his record of success, it wasn’t until Friday’s qualifying session for Saturday’s two-hour, 40-minute Lone Star Le Mans that Ryan Briscoe earned his first career pole position in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition.
The Aussie checked that accomplishment off the list courtesy of a best qualifying lap of 2 minutes, 4.188 seconds (98.5 mph) in the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT in the 15-minute GT Le Mans (GTLM) class qualifying session.
While it was Briscoe’s first, it was the third for the No. 67 team, as teammate Richard Westbrook took poles at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in July. And it was the fourth pole of the year for the new Ford GT program, as Dirk Mueller put the team’s No. 66 entry on pole at Road America last month.
Briscoe and Westbrook head into the race trailing GTLM points leaders Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner by seven points, 287-280, with two races remaining. Gavin struggled in qualifying, taking sixth on the GTLM grid in the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.
We need to keep doing our jobs. Our cars have been good. It’s been consistent, but it’s a long race tomorrow. A lot is going to happen. If it’s like other races in this series, anything can happen. There are a lot of guys pushing hard for their result as well. It’s going to be a good race. This track lends itself to a lot of passing zones, but it’s going to be hot. And it’s good to be on the pole, we’re going to try and run strong all day and stay out front.
Starting second in GTLM will be the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE in the hands of Toni Vilander. The Finnish driver posted a time of 2:04.694 (98.1 mph) for the Houston-based team. He and co-driver Giancarlo Fisichella enter the race looking for their first victory of the season.
Patrick Pilet qualified third in GTLM with a best lap of 2:04.874 (98.0 mph) in the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR. He and co-driver Nick Tandy are looking for their first victory since winning the BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach in April.
IMSA Press Release
Photos: Ford / Ferrari