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David Malsher-Lopez

VIR IMSA: Gunn’s Aston Martin and Ward’s Mercedes take poles

Mike Skeen was the first driver to set a semi-competitive time with a 1min47.082sec in the Team Korthoff Mercedes AMG GT3 but his next effort was a far more convincing 1min45.932sec ahead of his GTD rivals Madison Snow in the Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 and Frankie Montecalvo in the Lexus RC F of Vasser Sullivan.

Skeen further improved to 1min45.665, just as the GTD Pro cars stretched their legs with Ross Gunn delivering a 1min44.316sec in his Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage to briefly lead this morning’s pacesetter Jack Hawksworth in the all-pro Lexus.

Before Hawksworth could respond, Antonio Garcia and Connor De Phillippi jumped him, but then Garcia spun his Corvette C8.R into the wall at Turn 3, before continuing. At the same time, Matt Campbell briefly dropped his Pfaff Porsche 911 GT3 R off the course before recovering and going again.

De Phillippi and Hawksworth felt they couldn’t improve and dived into the pits.

Gunn knew he couldn’t improve after delivering a mighty 1min43.953sec in the HoR Aston, over seven-tenths up on his nearest rival, namely Garcia. Campbell recovered his composure to land third fastest time, around 0.05sec slower than the crestfallen Garcia who was probably surprised to be on the front row given the C8.R’s lack of pace in the practice sessions.

The GTD class was resolved in Russell Ward’s favor, sixth overall, with a 1min45.010sec, a mere 0.067sec faster than Aidan Read’s Rick Ware Racing Acura NSX. Read in turn was a mere 0.004sec ahead of a mighty late effort from Snow in the PMR BMW, while former Indy Lights racer Robert Megennis claimed fourth in Carbahn with Peregrine Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan.

Skeen claimed fifth, while Roman De Angelis ensured a good day for Heart of Racing by taking sixth in the pro-am Aston, ahead of Robby Foley’s Turner Motorsports BMW.

Race day warm-up will be tomorrow at 8.00am local, with the 2hr40min Michelin GT Challenge race beginning at 2.10pm.

Full results to follow…

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