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Castroneves, Penske on Petit Le Mans Pole

Castroneves scores Petit Le Mans pole on Penske’s sports car return…

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

Helio Castroneves has put Team Penske on pole Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans in the team’s return to sports car racing competition.

The 42-year-old Brazilian set the fastest lap time of the weekend in Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, a 1:11.314, in its Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 car.

It comes after a dominating weekend so far for the legendary IndyCar squad, with Castroneves and co-drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud topping two of the weekend’s four practice sessions.

Tequila Patron ESM’s pair of Nissan Onroak DPis qualified second and third with Pipo Derani lapping 0.161 seconds slower than the Penske driver. 

Brendon Hartley put the No. 2 car third while Mathias Beche’s Rebellion Racing Oreca will start from fourth on the grid.

The Visit Florida Racing and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibsons make up the third row.

Championship leader Ricky Taylor was only seventh but he and Jordan Taylor only need to start tomorrow’s race in order to claim the Prototype drivers’ title.

Performance Tech Motorsports’ James French took the final-ever Prototype Challenge pole with a lap time of 1:16.049 in the No. 38 Oreca FLM09 he shares with Kyle Masson and Pato O’Ward.

It marked French’s seventh pole in eight races this season.

Tjhe Motul Petit Le Mans will start at 11:05 a.m. EDT on Saturday, with live coverage beginning on FS1.

RESULTS: Qualifying

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist who is Sportscar365's European Editor and also Managing Editor for e-racing365. He is a student of Politics and International Relations. Contact Jake

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Jack

    October 6, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    The caddies looked like they were not pushing from my view in turn 10. They were much more smooth on throttle and got on later than other.

    • ops30

      October 6, 2017 at 7:19 pm

      I’m in turn 10 as well. Castroneves, Derani and Hartley looked so much faster in those turns than anyone, esp the Caddies. I suspect the Caddies will get faster as the track warms up tomorrow, then the global P2s and ESM DPis will pick up pace as the track cools. Of course if the rain shows up it’s all up for grabs.

  2. Matt

    October 6, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Rest of the field should be embarrassed. These guys just roll in and roll over everyone their first weekend at it when everyone else has had the whole season up to now. What a joke

    • Mo

      October 6, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      The Oreca is proven. They have 3 fast drivers. It’s a Penske operation. Why is it a joke? Did you really expect them to show up and just twiddling their thumbs. Also, there is still a 10 hour race to take place. Let’s not crown Team Penske the winner before the race.

    • Barber

      October 6, 2017 at 7:30 pm

      I wouldn’t say that, it’s just qualifying. Maybe the other Orecas should be embarrassed, but that’s it. We know the Oreca is the best Lmp2 so it being faster than the Ligiers Lmp2 shouldn’t a surprise. And the DPIs can only go as fast as there BOP always them.

  3. David

    October 6, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    That’s the Penske Way! The greatest entrant ever!

  4. David

    October 6, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    That’s the Penske way. Greatest entrant ever.

  5. Andy Flinn is OJ's neighbor

    October 6, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    This should worry IMSA. Penske shows up with P2 car and takes pole straight away!? What do you think is gonna happen next year with DPi Penske and Joest? You really think WTR and the monkey boys are gonna hang with those squads? You Grand-Am fans better hope the NASCAR brass steps in to help GM out. . . again, or it might get ugly. Penske and Joest don’t do shit halfway.

    • Mo

      October 6, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      Why should this worry IMSA? Because Penske won a pole? There is a 10 hour race tomorrow that will more than likely have rain as a factor. Let’s hold off on crowning Penske the race winner tomorrow and the Champions for next year because they are on pole.

    • Davy

      October 6, 2017 at 8:05 pm

      Cadillac has had a years worth of negative BoP adjustments. Let’s wait and see what happens next year before proclaiming Penske as the 2018 champs.

      • gmfansuxk

        October 6, 2017 at 9:03 pm

        Oh please list all the “negative BOP adjustments”. There might have been 2.

        They started the season off being mid-pack during both tests (nov and dec) and the Roar and when the Rolex rolls around, they are 2-3 seconds faster and NASCAR didn’t do squat after threatening sandbaggers at the roar.

        Nissan wins race and BAM, BOP their boost.

        Spare me all the GM whining.

        • Andres

          October 6, 2017 at 10:25 pm

          Man do you see what you write here?? or you just gone nuts?? Cadillac had spent a lot more time developing the car when the regulations came out, and Mazda and Nissan did nothing, so just shut up, do you even dare to say that more time testing and developing a car is sandbagging?? and remember the testis in daytona pre-season, the Cadillacs were forced to run more drag than the rest of the cars, meaning in less top speed for that track, what trduces as worse laptimes, then they allowed them to remove that gurney that added drag, so then it came the time improvement, if you dont know a shit about tech stuff just please stop yelling stupid things

    • Dumbass

      October 6, 2017 at 8:35 pm

      Lol, GM needs to be helped out? Are you F’ing serious? The ONLY team that is being forced to run in low downforce configuration, and carrying extra weight, and have their gearing locked? It seems that everyone else needed help to stay competitive, not the other way around.

      • Evan

        October 7, 2017 at 2:26 pm

        GM has never won a Le Mans Prototype race.

  6. David Chaste

    October 6, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    Penske tested here more recently than anyone. But it’s really not over until it’s over.

    Rebellion also had the pole at Sebring and we know how that ended. A solid 3 or 4 hours will be run in the dark. Cold tire temperatures could give the heavier caddies an advantage.

    Bottom line, there could be a twist.

    • Christopher Whitfield

      October 6, 2017 at 8:26 pm

      Don’t count out JDC/Miller. They ran well at Sebring and they quietly sneak their way into contention. Misha and Stephen are very quick shoes.

    • Anon

      October 6, 2017 at 8:37 pm

      Only about one hour total darkness unfortunately, about two after sunset. Should start the race at 1pm, so it ends at 11pm instead of 905pm.

  7. Ron Mills

    October 6, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    who cares who wins???-sit back and enjoy the show-it’s all we have- much better than the last few years and getting better.Good for Penske-good for IMSA-bring it on!

  8. David Chaste

    October 6, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    Hold on to your horses. It’s supposed to rain on saturday in braselton.

    There has to be some teams anticipating it. That could be the twist.

  9. John

    October 6, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Not bad for a couple of old guys, and a not-as-old guy.

    2018 is looking real good for road racing fans in North America, with IMSA and a refreshed and rejuggled IndyCar. Will be interesting to see what Hartley can do in an open-wheel car with Ganassi if the rumors pan out.

  10. Keith

    October 6, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    Hahaha! You think Penske is a bunch of rookies? They showed what they can do. You have drivers that have driven all types of cars in all type of weather. They have engineers that have been doing this for years. So cry all you want about Caddy this caddy that. Penske comes to win.

  11. Steven

    October 6, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Just a sign of things to come for 2018. Wonder how quickly the Acura will be BoP’ed out of contention in 2018 to please the GM fanboys.

    Some of you actually think Penske is a rookie team?

    • tracer

      October 6, 2017 at 10:03 pm

      Because the Caddies were BOP’ed out of contention, right? 🤦‍♂️

  12. tracer

    October 6, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    What the heck is with the “IMSA should be embarrassed” crap? It’s Penske, top flight drivers, and the dominant LMP2 chassis in the current crop. Over a single lap. Get some perspective people.

    • Kyle

      October 6, 2017 at 10:43 pm

      Yeah, wut. One of the biggest motorsports enterprises in the world shows up at a race with an all-star cast of drivers and people are #MadOnline that they got the pole? Gonna be a rough few years for these folks it seems.

  13. Sam

    October 6, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    5 seconds slower than the lap record is kind of kind boggling

    • Jordan

      October 7, 2017 at 3:29 am

      And at the 2008 Petit Le Mans (with the REAL cars), every single prototype that qualified (all 19 of them) ran under 1 minute 10 seconds.

  14. Jenner

    October 6, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    Pretty sad when a new team shows up in a SPEC car and takes the pole over all the regulars that have been running their cars since The Roar.

    Rain you say? I think Helio, Juan, and Simon has seen rain in their careers at some point.

    • tracer

      October 7, 2017 at 1:09 am

      You lost me at “new team” 😂

    • Tenkamenin

      October 7, 2017 at 3:44 am

      Simon is a sports car vet rain you say and watch out for Rebellion

    • Camyron

      October 7, 2017 at 5:56 am

      New Team? Are we looking at the same team here? You know who this team is, right? Same people that won the ALMS P2 title in Porsche RS Spyders years ago (While winning this very race with one of the very same drivers). Explain to me how that’s “Pretty Sad” when its a proven lineup and a proven team with a Proven car on the pole.

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