Today marks the start of the annual MOTUL Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, but before we head into the race itself, we need to look at yesterday’s wild qualifying session, where three of the four IMSA classes contesting the race broke an official record.
We’ll start with the big dogs in the DPi cars, the top level of machinery available in IMSA. Mazda set the first provisional pole with driver Harry Tincknell becoming the first driver to run a sub-69 second lap time, but his time was quickly overshadowed by both of Team Penske’s Acuras, who spent much of qualifying shaving fractions of a second off the other’s time.
Ultimately, with Dane Cameron behind the wheel, the No. 6 set a flying 1m 8.412s lap. That stands as a new track record for the DPi machines.
The LMP2 class, which follows DPi, didn’t set any new records this year, but PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Patrick Kelly set the fastest time in the class. No record, but he can rest easy knowing that he was a full 1.5 seconds per lap ahead of his closest competition.
GTLM saw a new record, a 1m 15.163s lap that set a qualifying record for the class at the track. As we’ve come to expect this year, the Corvettes were quick right out of the gate, so it was the No. 3 piloted by Antonio Garcia that ultimately found them starting at the top of the class.
The Corvettes weren’t the only cars to break the lap record. The No. 25 BMW M8 of Conor De Phillippi also cracked the previous record, but with the Corvette running faster, he wouldn’t be taking home the accolades.
It was a similar story in the GTD class, Shinya Michimi claimed pole position in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3. It’s Michimi’s first-ever pole position, and it gives the championship-leading team a boost over the competition with a much better starting spot. His 1m 19.291s lap is a new class record.
You can find the full list of qualifying times and starting position here. Coverage for Petit Le Mans begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.