ALTON, Va. (Oct. 4, 2013) – Maxime Martin became the third different BMW Team RLL driver in three races to score an American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón GT class pole position, which he did on Friday afternoon in qualifying for Saturday’s Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway (ESPN3.com, Live, 2 p.m. ET).
Martin lapped the 3.27-mile, 17-turn VIR road circuit at 1 minute, 45.978 seconds (111.080 mph) in the No. 55 BMW North America, LLC/Crowne Plaza BMW Z4 GTE to take the pole and establish a new GT-class track record. Martin’s pole on Friday comes on the heels of teammate Joey Hand taking the top starting position in the most recent ALMS race at Circuit of The Americas last month.
Martin’s co-driver, Bill Auberlen, took the GT pole two races ago at the Grand Prix of Baltimore. A total of four different drivers have earned poles for BMW Team RLL this season, as John Edwards earned the team’s first class pole in July at Lime Rock Park.
“It’s for sure a great pole position for me,” Martin said. “This is the first time for me at the track; my first time every track in the US. It’s not always easy. I’m really happy for the team and working with my teammate, Bill Auberlen. He’s teaching me a lot, and getting me up to speed very quickly. Third pole of the team, third pole for the 55, third different driver. We know tomorrow it will be difficult, we are slower in a straight line with our engine power, but the team is working out a good strategy so I hope to bring it home.”
Matteo Malucelli qualified second in GT with a lap of 1:46.113 (110.938 mph) in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia. Malucelli lost his fastest time in the session, when fluids from the No. 62 machine brought out a red flag and ended the session prematurely. However, Malucelli’s second-fastest lap kept him second on the GT grid.
Malucelli was the meat in a BMW sandwich, as Dirk Muller put his No. 56 BMW North America, LLC/Crowne Plaza BMW Z4 GTE third on the GT grid. Muller’s best time was a 1:46.174 (110.875 mph).
Faulkner also qualified on pole at Circuit of The Americas last month, which he went on to win alongside co-driver Ben Keating. It is also the Irishman’s second straight VIR pole, as he started from the No. 1 position in the GT class last year.
“It wasn’t an easy day to be honest,” said Faulkner, who set a GTC-class track record with his best lap on Friday. “We had two one-hour practice sessions that didn’t go to plan. We changed the car between sessions. You always want the best car to be the second one, and we went the wrong way coming out in the second session. We ended up going back to the garages before the session ended. We had gone the wrong way, so we got it back to how we were set up this morning. Then, we worked super hard to get it back to the front. Hats off to the TRG team for working so hard and quick to get the car back to speed.”
Jeroen Bleekemolen qualified second in GTC with a best lap of 1:52.610 (104.538 mph) in the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche 911 GT3 Cup for Alex Job Racing. Third in GTC went to Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 45 Venezuela/eSilicon Porsche 911 GT3 Cup for Flying Lizard Motorsports. Pumpelly’s best lap was a 1:52.621 (104.528 mph).
The two-hour and 45-minute Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway takes the green flag at 2:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 5. The race will be streamed live on ESPN3.com beginning at 2 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.