Thomas Takes Qualifying Honors in LMP2, Jakobsen in LMP3
August 6, 2022
By Jeff Olson and Mark Robinson
IMSA Wire Service
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Filipe Albuquerque had so much confidence about his fastest lap, he called it as the pole winner in real time.
Albuquerque won the Motul Pole Award on Saturday for the IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America, gaining five precious points on the championship leaders in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class heading into the penultimate race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
Albuquerque was clocked at 1 minute, 48.915 seconds (133.799 mph) in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05, allowing him and co-driver Ricky Taylor to gain on championship leaders Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist, who qualified third fastest in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05.
The pole let Albuquerque and Taylor trim the lead shared by Blomqvist and Jarvis to 51 points with just two races – Sunday and the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Oct. 1 – remaining on the DPi schedule.
Immediately after crossing the timing line on his fifth lap of the session, Albuquerque told his crew it was enough to win the pole.
“I said, ‘This has got to be pole position because it just felt great,’” Albuquerque said. “Then I just shut up. On the in-lap, I said, ‘I don’t know if it’s going to hold up for P1 or not, but this was a great car.’ It was just a beautiful car.”
When Sebastien Bourdais slid off course in the No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R with seconds left in the session, Albuquerque shook his fist in celebration while sitting in the pits.
Knowing rain is in the forecast Sunday played into his emotions about starting ahead of the field.
“It should be a rainy race,” Albuquerque said. “Starting from pole will help you through the first few corners with the spray and less incidents. It’s a bunch of things together. The tension and nervousness was there. I needed to execute when it counted.”
Alex Lynn had the second-fastest lap in DPi – 1:49.097 (133.576 mph) in the No. 02 Cadillac Racing Cadillac he shares with Earl Bamber. Blomqvist secured the third starting position with a lap of 1:49.841 (132.671 mph) in the No. 60 MSR Acura.
Sunday’s race starts at 11:40 a.m. ET. Peacock and IMSA Radio will have live flag-to-flag coverage, and USA Network will join at noon.
Thomas Wins PR1 Mathiasen Shootout for LMP2 Pole
PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports put a stranglehold on Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) qualifying, with Steven Thomas and Patrick Kelly swapping the top spot throughout the session. In the end, it was Thomas in the No. 11 ORECA LMP2 07 taking the Motul Pole Award by 0.134 seconds over Kelly in the team’s No. 52 ORECA.
Thomas earned his fourth pole position in his second season of WeatherTech Championship competition. His best lap of 1:54.137 (127.677 mph) came with just under five minutes to go in the 15-minute session and held up. He admitted he wasn’t sure how he’d fare when qualifying started.
“We thought we had a good race car but we made quite a bit of changes from (Friday practice) to qualifying, so we didn’t know we had a good race car,” the 55-year-old from Missouri said. “When I was able to sail it through Turn 1, I thought, ‘We’ve got a good race car,’ so kudos to our engineer Tim Lewis and (team principal) Bobby Oergel, who’s also involved in all that stuff. They did a great job.”
Thomas credited co-driver Tristan Nunez with aiding the performance. The duo shared the No. 11 last year, winning the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. Jonathan Bomarito was Thomas’ teammate this year until stepping aside this weekend to allow Nunez to return. Nunez and Thomas watched video Friday night that helped Thomas improve his line through the Carousel.
“We’re very comfortable with each other,” Thomas said of Nunez, “and he knows the things to say to me to get me to do what I can do in a race car. It’s just great to have him around. I love JB (Bomarito) and gracious of them to work out what they did, but I love Tristan, too. It’s great to have him here.”
Dwight Merriman qualified third in the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA at 1:54.677. Merriman and co-driver Ryan Dalziel are the defending race winners. All six LMP2s qualified within 0.696 seconds of each other.
Jakobsen Claims Pole in LMP3
Malthe Jakobsen has plenty of rain experience – just not much in a Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) car.
The 19-year-old Danish driver won the Motul Pole Award for the class Saturday with an LMP3 track-record lap of 1:59.434 (122.015 mph) in the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P320 he co-drives with veteran Joao Barbosa.
“Joao is such a good teammate because he has so much experience,” Jakobsen said. “We push each other and learn from each other. Especially at the beginning of the year, at Daytona and Sebring, he helped me with managing all the traffic and competing in multiclass racing. He has so much experience from the faster categories. He can explain what happens when they get around you.”
Jarett Andretti had the second-fastest lap in LMP3 – 2:00.163 (121.274 mph) in the No. 36 Andretti Autosport Ligier he co-drives with Gabby Chaves. Gar Robinson secured P3 in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier he shares with Felipe Fraga.
Jakobsen, Barbosa and their Sean Creech Motorsport teammates have been discussing the possibility of rain in the race.
“It’s going to be tricky,” Jakobsen said. “I have some rain experience in the P3, but not much. But from racing Formula Fords in Denmark and Scandinavia, I do. It rains every second day there.”