ALTON, Va. (Oct. 4, 2013) - Cooper MacNeil, and Jeroen Bleekemolen will start from the GTC class front row in the American Le Mans Series Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) tomorrow, Oct. 5.
MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill) and Bleekemolen (Monte Carlo), who are the GTC Championship point leaders, were the fastest in this morning's practice and second quickest in this afternoon's practice. With that in mind, the team thought it had a really good shot at putting the Alex Job Racing-prepared Porsche on the GTC pole. Bleekemolen qualified the car and was on the provisional pole more than halfway through the 15-minute qualifying session. He turned a lap of 1:52.610 (104.538 mph) over the 3.27-mile, 17-turn undulating road course.
With just a couple minutes remaining in qualifying, the No. 66 Porsche bested Bleekemolen's effort. Bleekemolen knew he had only one more shot, just before the checkered flag dropped, to put the No. 22 machine on the GTC pole and he went for it. Though he did not better his time, he and his co-driver MacNeil will start from the front row.
"It's flat out for everyone now. You can't hold back. You can't play it safe here. You have to go for it. You have to win the race - or try to win the race. We have to be there [at the end] to maximize our points. Petit is a long race. Anything can happen there. But, it would be nice to have a bit of a [point] margin going into Petit. So, that is what we are going for [here]."
"Qualifying went pretty good," MacNeil said. "I think we have a really good racecar for the race. It's really consistent, especially on old tires. We're starting on the front row so we can't complain. We've just got to keep our heads down for the race and hopefully be there to take the checkered flag.
"We only lead the Championship by four points," he continued. "Some people talk about running conservatively to get as many points as we can, but personally we're here to win. That's what we came here to do. So, we're going to go fast, take chances and see what happens." "We thought we had we had a really good chance to put the WeatherTech Porsche on the pole this afternoon because Cooper and Jeroen were both fast in practice," Team Owner Alex Job said. "Jeroen did everything he could in qualifying to make that happen. Though we're not on the pole, the front row is a great place to start. Cooper and Jeroen are leading in the GTC Drivers' Championship and the team is second in the Team Championship point race. So, we will definitely look to win this thing tomorrow."