Pla Takes Petit Qualifying

Pole sitter for the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, Olivier Pla. [Photo by Eddie LePine]

Pole sitter for the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, Olivier Pla. [Photo by Eddie LePine]

By Eddie LePine

The field is now set for Petit Le Mans on Saturday at Road Atlanta and once the race is over, all of the IMSA championships will be decided.

In a fine performance, Olivier Pla put the Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda on pole, besting Tristan Nunez in the Mazda by .459 seconds. Dane Cameron was the best of the Corvette DP cars, and he qualified the Action Express entry in third place. Tom Long took fourth in the second Mazda, while Christian Fittipaldi took the fifth spot in the second Action Express entry. All of the top five cars were separated by just a touch over 1 second, so look for a very close race.

Olivier Pla said: “From the beginning the team has done a great job. They gave me a very competitive car and we kept improving each time…it will be a very real possibility for the win. We have nothing to lose.”

In GTLM, Richard Westbrook put the Ford GT on pole, besting Antonio Garcia in the Corvette C7.R by only .152 seconds. Toni Vilander was third in the Ferrari F488 GTE, followed by Joey Hand in the second Ford GT and Daniel Serra in another Ferrari. Once again, it was close, very close, with the top five cars only .218 seconds apart. Unbelievable!

It LMPC Robert Alon took the top spot, over Alex Popow, Johnny Mowlen, Kenton Koch and Stefano Coletti. Again, the top five in this class are separated by only .447 seconds.

In GTD, it was Jeroen Bleekemolen putting the Dodge Viper GT3-R on top, over Matthew McMurray’s Porsche and Mario Farnbacher’s similar car. Fourth was Christina Nielsen in the Ferrari F488 GT3 with Lawson Aschenbach rounding out the top five in his Audi R8 LMS GT3. In the GTD class, the top five were only .809 seconds apart.

IMSA absolutely has done a great job with the BOP this season, as evidenced by the close qualifying times posted by all the top five cars in all four classes.

Petit Le Mans is going to be a very competitive race. May the best teams win.

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Eddie has been involved in motorsports for over 30 years as photographer, columnist, and driver. Eddie also is now a retired racer (well, retired unless a good ride pops up).