Image credit: Autosport.
To say that the GT Le Mans (GTLM) qualifying session was unusual would be an understatement. The 15-minute session for Saturday’s Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda at Road Atlanta saw multiple on-track incidents, penalties and failed post-session inspections.
While Earl Bamber posted the fastest time of the qualifying session, he lost control of his No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR with a few minutes remaining, going off course in Turn 5 and bringing out the red flag to stop the session. Per IMSA rules, the red flag wiped away his fastest time of 1:30.074. Thankfully for Bamber, his second fastest time of 1:30.304 (101.258 mph) was enough to keep him on the pole. However, due to chassis damage sustained in the incident, the team went to a backup car, and the new No. 912 Porsche also co-driven by Joerg Bergmeister and Frederic Makowiecki will now start at the back of the GT grid.
Bamber’s Porsche North America teammate Nick Tandy initially qualified second in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR co-driven by Patrick Pilet and Richard Lietz with a time of 1:30.398 (101.153 mph), but failed post-qualifying inspection due to a ride-height infraction. He also will start from the back of the GT grid.
Qualifying third with a best lap of 1:31.685 (99.733 mph) was Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin. Gavin will begin Saturday’s race at the front of the GT grid with co-drivers Tommy Milner and Ryan Briscoe in the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.
Two-time defending Petit Le Mans winners Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler will start near the back of the GT grid with co-driver Patrick Long in the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR after an incident in Turn 12 three minutes into the session prevented them from setting a qualifying time.