Corvettes Go 1-2 in GTLM Qualifications
By Godwin Kelly
IMSA Wire Service
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Kyle Kirkwood and Jack Hawksworth on Saturday became the first co-drivers to sweep both halves of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) qualifying since the two-segment format was introduced at the start of this season. It puts the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 at the front of the class for the start of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on Sunday and earned it valuable points toward the championship.
Kirkwood was fastest in the 15-minute GTD qualifying session at Watkins Glen International to determine starting gird position. Hawksworth then stepped into the No. 14 Lexus and turned the best lap in the segment awarding qualifying points.
“I think it will be crucial for the race,” Kirkwood said after earning his first Motul Pole Award with a lap of 1 minute, 45.539 seconds (115.976 mph) on the 11-turn, 3.4-mile road course. “I think this place will be pretty hard to pass. I have to give it all to the team. Our Lexus has been on rails this weekend.”
Kirkwood is the endurance-race driver for the No. 14 this season, joining full-season pilots Aaron Telitz and Hawksworth. Telitz qualified the car on pole last month at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Kirkwood followed it on Saturday in his first-ever WeatherTech Championship qualifying attempt.
“It was obviously tense going into qualifying with a new car and for myself (in my first) qualifying session,” said Kirkwood, who is also racing this year in Indy Lights for Andretti Autosport. “It’s different running with full fuel and new tires versus no fuel and new tires. I was able to get a touch for that in first practice. It all worked out.”
Hawksworth completed the No. 14’s double play Saturday with a lap of 1:45.081 (116.481 mph) in the GTD qualifying session for points, earning 35 for the effort.
“It’s been a perfect weekend for us so far,” he said. “We were fastest in the practices and then Kyle got the pole, so we’ll be starting up front for tomorrow’s six-hour race. It’s really important to start up front here at Watkins Glen.
“I was then able to get a couple of points there in the other qualifying session. Our Lexus has been working really well all weekend. We knew this was going to be a good track for us, but we’ve had a lot of good Fridays and a lot of good Saturdays this year, and we’re still searching for a good Sunday.”
Trent Hindman put the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R second on the starting grid with a lap of 1:45.849 (115.636 mph). Fourteen GTD cars are competing this weekend.
Corvettes Lock up GTLM Front Row
Corvette Racing dominated GT Le Mans (GTLM) qualifying on Saturday, with the pair of Corvettes snapping up the top two positions in class. Antonio Garcia led the charge in the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, with a best lap of 1 minute, 40.944 seconds (121.255 mph). It yielded Garcia his 12th career pole and second consecutive at The Glen.
“It was pretty intense qualifying, like always,” Garcia said. “It’s always good to be out there in the best car possible and go for the fastest lap around this racetrack. I’m really happy with that and how everything felt. This means a lot, but there are still six hours (of racing) to go.”
Garcia and co-driver Jordan Taylor will be joined at the head of the GTLM grid by Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy in the No. 4 Corvette. Milner posted a 1:41.318 lap (120.807 mph) that stood up as second best. Connor De Phillippi was third in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE at 1:41.357 (120.761 mph).
Following an 8 a.m. ET Sunday warmup, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen starts at 10:40 a.m. It streams live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold and IMSA Radio, with the NBCSN telecast at 7 p.m.