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Charles Bradley

IMSA Watkins Glen: Qualifying abandoned after pile-up in rain

Mixed weather conditions greeted the fifth round of America’s premier sportscar series but, following the multi-car shunt that halted the joint LMP2/P3 session, that and the GTP session that was meant to follow were abandoned.

All prototypes will therefore line up in championship order, with the #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963 of Nick Tandy and Mathieu Jaminet starting from pole, ahead of the #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac V-Series.R of Pipo Derani, Alexander Sims and Jack Aitken.

The #10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06 of Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Louis Deletraz will start third, ahead of the Chip Ganassi Racing Caddy of Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande and the #25 BMW M Hybrid V8 of Connor De Phillippi and Nick Yelloly.

In the mixed LMP2 and P3 session, rain fell hard at the top of the hill just as the cars departed the pits. Under to IMSA rules, teams aren’t allowed to change tyres.

Three cars – all on wets – then aquaplaned off in the Boot section of track, leading to a pile-up that halted the session: Ari Balough’s #30 Jr III Ligier LMP3 went off first, landing in the tyrewall. Ben Keating’s PR1 Mathiasen ORECA LMP2 followed his path and ploughed into his stationary car. Then the #17 P3 of Anthony Mantella (AWA) spun and collected Keating’s stranded car. All drivers were unhurt.

With no times set, the LMP2 and LMP3 packs will also be set by teams’ championship order, which means the #11 TDS Racing entry will start from pole ahead of the #52 PR1 car that will need rebuilding after Keating’s shunt. In P3, the #74 Riley car will start from pole ahead of the #13 AWA machine.

In the GT classes, Jack Hawksworth led the early qualifying times in his #14 Lexus RC F GTD Pro entry with a time of 1m45.924s, backed up by the #12 sister car of Aaron Telitz which led the pro-am GTD category.

#78: US RaceTronics, Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2, GTD: Misha Goikhberg, Loris Spinelli, Patrick Liddy (Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images)

As the track dried after a pre-session shower, Loris Spinelli then topped them all with 1m45.330s in the Forte Racing Lamborghini Huracan, before Daniel Serra took over the GTD Pro class pole in his Risi-run Ferrari 296 with 1m45.391s.

Hawksworth and Serra then swapped the pole between them, Serra stopping the clocks in 1m44.829s, but Spinelli grabbed it back with a track-record 1m44.430s – beating Pro class leader Serra by four tenths, despite a malfunctioning dashboard so he didn’t know his laptimes.

Jordan Pepper qualified third in Iron Lynx’s Lambo, ahead of the Lexus duo of Telitz and Hawksworth. Doriane Pin was sixth in her Iron Dames Huracan.

Ross Gunn hit trouble when the right-rear wheel came loose on his #23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage, due to an apparent hub issue, while Alan Brynjolfsson spun his Wright Motorsport Porsche 911 twice at the Inner Loop chicane.

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