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Vanthoor Takes Porsche’s Fifth Pole of Season in Close Session

Corvette, Ford challenges fall short as Vanthoor scoops overall pole at VIR…

Photo: Brian Cleary/ BC Pix

Porsche’s Laurens Vanthoor resisted a late surge of times from Jan Magnussen, Ryan Briscoe and Joey Hand to clinch pole for Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIR.

Vanthoor posted a time of 1:40.630 on his third flying lap with just under three minutes of the 15-minute session remaining to go fastest, but didn’t improve further.

This left the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR open to challenges, with the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R and the two Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs all gaining a chance to upset the German marque just after the checkered flag.

Magnussen set the fastest second sector of all in the Corvette, but his final flyer fell short by 0.078 seconds, while Briscoe landed the best opening sector to finish third ahead of Hand.

GT Le Mans qualifying started with BMW Team RLL setting the quick times, with Porsche hesitant to send its two cars out early in the session.

Vanthoor emerged on the scene with five and a half minutes remaining, setting the fastest lap at the time, before Nick Tandy came along to claim provisional pole in the No. 911 Porsche.

Tandy subsequently failed to improve on his 1:41.615 effort, with the Englishman’s run compromised by an off-track moment at Oak Tree which resulted in his 911 RSR sliding into the left-side tire barriers.

As others improved, Tandy slipped to sixth, while Vanthoor held on to the top spot.

The pole marked Porsche’s fifth of the 2019 campaign, and the second for the championship-leading No. 912 car.

Completing the top five behind the two Ford GTs was Oliver Gavin in the No. 4 Corvette, while the two BMW M8 GTEs ended up a second off the pace in seventh and eighth respectively.

Robichon Takes Last-Gasp GTD Pole

Pfaff Motorsports driver Zach Robichon left it until the very last lap of GT Daytona qualifying to take his second class pole of the season in the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R.

After a drizzly start to the 15-minute session, which took place before GTLM, the emergence of a dry line made it a race to be the final driver to set a flying lap around the 3.27-mile VIR circuit.

Robichon shot to the top of the order with 20 seconds remaining, displacing erstwhile provisional pole-sitter Trent Hindman in the points-leading Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo.

Frankie Montecalvo beat the Canadian’s 1:46.294 effort on his own final lap, but Robichon managed to pass the timing beam once more before the checkered flag, giving himself an extra attempt.

With optimal track conditions for the session, the Pfaff driver turned in a time of 1:45.826 to forge a repeat of his pole achieved earlier in the year at Detroit Belle Isle.

Robichon, who is bidding for his third straight GTD victory this weekend, is due to share the No. 9 Porsche with Scott Hargrove.

Montecalvo settled for second in the No. 12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3, ahead of his teammate Richard Heistand who jumped up to third with a late improvement of his own.

Hindman qualified fourth, while IMSA debutant Alice Powell completed the GTD top five in the sister Meyer Shank-operated Acura of Heinricher Racing.

RESULTS: Qualifying

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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