IMSA WeatherTech Championship

New Kids on the Block Take Top GT Qualifying Honors

Bachler and Udell Deliver Perfect Porsche Pole Performances

May 13, 2023

By Jeff Olson

IMSA Wire Service

MONTEREY, Calif. – Klaus Bachler’s first visit to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca gave him the memory of a lifetime.

The 31-year-old Austrian won the pole position Saturday in the Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) class for Sunday’s Motul Course de Monterey Powered by Hyundai N. Bachler recorded a lap of 1 minute, 24.529 seconds (95.313 mph) in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) he shares with Patrick Pilet.

His first time at the historic circuit was everything Bachler imagined it would be.

“It’s just amazing,” he said after placing the Motul Pole Award sticker on the storied plaid Porsche. “First time here at Laguna and to finish with the pole position. Thanks to my team and to Patrick. We pushed each other quite hard. Everything is new for me this season.”

Bachler’s best lap was just 0.125 seconds faster than the fastest lap by Alex Riberas in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 he co-drives with Ross Gunn. Bachler will start first in class and 18th overall in Sunday’s race.

Daniel Juncadella had the third-fastest lap in GTD PRO – 1:24.706 (95.114 mph) around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course – in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 he co-drives with Jules Gounon.

Pfaff has won the class championship the past two seasons – GTD PRO in 2022 and GTD in 2021. No worries, Bachler said.

“I’m under a bit of pressure to do what they did the past two years,” he said. “But I like it. I’m so happy to be here.”

Udell, Kellymoss with Riley Score First GTD pole

Bachler wasn’t the only newcomer to find speed at Laguna Seca. In his first season in the class and first qualifying session at Laguna Seca, Alex Udell placed the No. 92 Kellymoss with Riley Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) that he co-drives with Julien Andlauer in the number one starting spot of the GTD class with a lap of 1:24.539 (95.302 mph).

“It’s been awesome,” Udell said. “We’ve been coming to grips with a couple of things here and there. We’re just learning as we go. I’m just happy to get a little bit of out-boost going into the race. It’s always great to start from the front.”

Udell expects the Porsche to be strong over longer stints.

“I think our long-run pace is relatively good compared to other cars,” he said. “We’ve been focusing on the long-run pace. We did a couple of things (in the qualifying session) that we’re hoping will help the car in the race. We’re still learning and trying to get as much data as we can in every session.”

Roman De Angelis landed the second starting position in GTD with a lap of 1:24.647 (95.180 mph) in the No. 27 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 he co-drives with Marco Sorensen.

Seb Priaulx locked down the third starting position with a lap of 1:25.005 (94.780 mph) in the No. 80 AO Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) he shares with Gunnar Jeannette.

Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race airs live at 3 p.m. ET on NBC. It’s also available on Peacock Premium in the United States.

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