By: Joey Selmants, ALMS Correspondent
- Tight qualifying in all classes
- Dyson Racing edges out Muscle Milk
- Smith nips Graf for pole
Guy Smith & Chris Dyson will start from pole position for Saturday showdown in Ohio
Guy Smith and Dyson Racing will start on the overall (LMP1) pole for Saturday’s Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge after narrowly beating out Klaus Graf’s Muscle Milk Aston Martin by one tenth of a second during qualifying with a 1:12.729 lap time. Things were far from easy for Smith though, as his car was far from compliant and he was visibly fighting the car through the corners.
“We struggled quite badly with the setup,” Smith stated, “and we pretty much threw everything at it but the kitchen sink. Qualifying was a wild ride with the car sideways a lot of the time. It was a god lap and I’m very happy with it.”
Qualifying was a wild ride ...
Steven Kane continued his excellent start to his ALMS career by slotting the second Dyson entry into third place with a very respectable 1:13.607. Dyson scored a dramatic win last year and will hope for a repeat of last year’s victory come race day.
Joey Hand continued BMW’s streak of the LMGT class dominance in the American Le Mans Series this season by leading a Bimmer 1-2 in qualifying with a time of 1:20.539. Hand was very pleased with BMW’s fourth consecutive pole in the ALMS’s most competitive class, but noted how the race will be anything but easy.
“It’s going to be a show,” Hand said. “This is a track that puts on one of the best shows of the year. The talent in our class is so deep. That’s why having pole here is big. You’re going to have different things come at the start of the race that affects how cars handle. It’s going to make for some fender-damaging slicing and dicing.”
Behind the two BMWs was Risi Competizione’s Jaime Melo who managed to get within two tenths of Hand’s pole time and was pushing for more when he had a minor off course excursion. No damage was done, however, and Risi appears to finally be getting to grips with the new Ferrari 458. The Houston based team will certainly look to score the 458’s first ALMS victory tomorrow.
Gunnar Jeannette grabbed pole in LMPC for Core Autosport by a tenth of a second over the #89 Intersport Racing machine of young Canadian, Kyle Marcelli, with a time of 1:17.281. Jeannette was pleased with pole, but mentioned that at a twisty circuit like Mid-Ohio, there could be some fireworks between the LMPC cars and the front running GT machines.
“There’s isn’t much of a difference between us and the GT cars at this time,” Jeannette said. “Especially as you’re trying to pass them down the strait away -some of those other European guys are not so nice.”
Closely following Jeannette and Marcelli was Kyle’s Intersport teammate, ALMS veteran Jon Field, who will be sharing the #37 LMPC car with his son Clint in the duo’s home race.
In GTC, Spencer Pumpelly carried his momentum from his Mosport win to Ohio and put the #66 TRG Porsche on pole by one one-hundredth of a second over Leh Keen for Alex Job with a time of 1:26.602. Pumpelly noted the difficulty of grabbing pole in a spec class, “You just have to really be in your game. We have a lot of strong guys [in the GTC class]-some that aren’t always with us, but are really strong.”
Rounding out the top three was Black Swan Racing’s ace Jeroen Bleekemolen who makes his ALMS return after a stint in Europe.
While today’s hot and humid conditions made the track greasy and dusty, Saturday could tell a different tale with rain storms in the forecast. Mid-Ohio is challenging enough in the dry and a wet race could make the race very unpredictable. Rumors in the paddock suggest Team Falken has an excellent rain tire so there could be a first time winner on our hands if it does indeed rain.