***Sage Karam’s GT Daytona class pole marked the first for Lexus in IMSA competition since 2009, when Memo Rojas took Chip Ganassi Racing’s Lexus-powered Riley DP to top qualifying honors in the July race at Daytona. Rojas’ co-driver that season was Scott Pruett, who now shares the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 with Karam.
***Karam became the 10th consecutive different pole winner in GTD, a feat dating back to Virginia International Raceway last year when Madison Snow claimed top qualifying honors in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
***There was also a number of firsts in GT Le Mans qualifying, with Dirk Werner getting his first pole since his return to Porsche, which was also the first for the mid-engined 911 RSR in worldwide competition. It also marked the CORE autosport-run team’s first pole since Nick Tandy’s qualifying effort for the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona, where the Englishman posted the quickest overall time in the mixed-condition session.
***The No. 15 Lexus, which suffered a heavy crash in the hands of Jack Hawksworth in final practice, is expected to be repaired in time for tomorrow’s race. Heavy damage was sustained to three corners of the car in the impact, after launching over a dip in the grass in Turn 3. The Englishman escaped injury in the accident and has been assisting with the rebuild of the car in the paddock. “I am very disappointed and it was my mistake,” Hawksworth said. “I got a little wide in Turn 3 and as soon as I touched the grass, it just dragged me in, I hit some kind of mound and just took off.”
***Team principal Paul Gentilozzi expects it to be a long night ahead for his Michigan-based team. “It appears to be reparable, but we will continue to analyze the damage and we certainly hope to be there at the beginning of the race,” he said.
***Hawksworth’s Lexus was just one of several cars to have had significant accidents this weekend, with both the No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R returning to action on Saturday after lengthy overnight repairs.
***The No. 50 Riley Motorsports-run crew worked through the night making extensive repairs, including replacing the differential, nose, splitter, rear tail section and other mechanical components. Crew from the sister No. 33 car stayed until 2 a.m. to support the rebuild, with the No. 50 mechanics pulling a 40-plus hour work period from Friday morning through midday Saturday.
“Sometimes we’re used to doing the ‘all nighter’ thing with the 24 hour races and stuff like that. But, this is a little different because it was constant work,” said team manager Greg Jones. “Then this morning, they had to go right back at it. It’s not 24 hours. It’s going to be more like 36 hours – getting the car ready for qualifying today and the race prep that we have to do for tomorrow’s event to make sure we have a good quality car.”
***Alegra’s Porsche was also back in action after Michael de Quesada’s accident, which nearly mirrored Hawksworth’s off-course excursion, but with less damage sustained to the Porsche. Parts that were replaced included the front splitter, front bumper, front left and rear fender, rear bumper, left steering arm and repaired rear diffuser and driver’s side door. The team left the track Saturday at 3 a.m. and returned three hours later to prep for final practice.
***Overall Pole-sitter Ricky Taylor expects a hard fight in tomorrow’s race, with the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson and pair of Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPis being their biggest threats. “We can’t afford to race them in the same way they can race us so we’re just going to run our own race,” Taylor told Sportscar365. “If they overtake us on the first stop we’re just going to play out our strategy. We should be able to beat them on strategy and pit stops.”
***TRG has sold its Porsche 911 GT3 R to IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada competitor Tullman Walker Racing, which has announced intentions to run in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. No word has been given on the team’s driver lineup, or whether additional races could be planned for the team.
***IMSA is expected to provide additional information on the status of DPi homologations next week. It’s understood all three manufacturers are still under draft homologations, with cooling-related updates having been rolled out on the No. 70 Mazda RT24-P, and other developments set to debut on the pair of Nissan Onroak DPis later this summer as well.
***Be sure to download Andy Blackmore’s Spotter’s Guide, featuring all 36 starters for Sunday’s Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix. Click Here to download the guide.
***FOX Sports 1 will carry live coverage of the race, beginning at 12 p.m. ET. International viewers can tune into IMSA.tv for full coverage featuring commentary from IMSA Radio.