Garcia Puts Corvette on Lime Rock Pole

Antonio Garcia qualifies Corvette at Lime Rock Park
Antonio Garcia put a Corvette Racing car on the GTLM pole at Lime Rock Park ahead of its top-qualifying Porsche, Ford and BMW competitors. | Photo: Jake Galstad / IMSA

Leading the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s duo of GT categories to the green flag to begin the Northeast Grand Prix will be Antonio Garcia after he came out on top in GT Le Mans qualifying.

At 49.754 seconds, Garcia’s fifth of 11 qualifying laps put the No. 3 Corvette Racing car on top. Laurens Vanthoor came within 0.166 seconds in the Porsche GT Team’s No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR but Garcia never relinquished the position.

The pole for Garcia, his first since 2016, marks the seventh for the No. 3 Corvette C7.R. The Spanish driver eclipsed the standing lap record by 0.65 seconds.

Vanthoor in the quickest of the two Porsches will start beside Garcia at the head of the 18-car field while Dirk Mueller and Tommy Milner will occupy Row 2 in the No. 66 Ford GT and No. 4 Corvette, respectively. Mueller came within 0.025 seconds of a front-row start with his 49.945 lap.

The second Chip Ganassi Racing Ford was fifth at the hands of Richard Westbrook while John Edwards was the top BMW Team RLL driver with a sixth-place qualifying run in the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE.

Edwards, the first driver to lap more than a half-second off Garcia’s pole time, was faster than his BMW stablemate Conor De Philippi and Porsche’s Patrick Pilet.

Long Holds of Lexus Duo in GTD

The competitive GT Daytona field also officially dipped under the previous Lime Rock circuit record, led by a 51.491 lap by Patrick Long.

On his fifth of seven laps in Wright Motorsports’ No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R, Long put his name and the car atop the 10-car field, gapping 3GT Racing driver Dominik Baumann by 0.137 seconds.

The feat marks the first pole for Long since he started first in GTLM at the 2014 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Patrick Long completes Lime Rock Park lap during IMSA qualifying session
The 2018 Northeast Grand Prix will see Patrick Long start from the GTD pole for the first time of his career. | Photo: Jake Galstad / IMSA

Baumann will start the two-hour, 40-minute race alongside Long on the GTD front row in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 while Jack Hawksworth will start third in the No. 15 Lexus after landing there in qualifying.

Bryan Sellers lapped nearly seven-tenths of a second quicker than his Paul Miller Racing co-driver Snow’s former record to qualify the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 they share to the outside of the second row. Cooper MacNeil was fifth in Scuderia Corsa’s Ferrari 488 GT3.

Nine of the 10 GTD competitors were under the previous lap record by at least 0.371 seconds.

All that remains on the Lime Rock schedule for the WeatherTech Championship’s GT classes is the race itself, set to go green at 3:10 p.m. EDT. Live coverage will begin 10 minutes earlier on IMSA.tv while FS1’s delayed broadcast will open at 4 p.m.

What do you think?