Patrick Gallagher claimed the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport pole at Lime Rock Park. (IMSA Photo)
LAKEVILLE, Conn. – Patrick Gallagher benefited from an abbreviated Motul Pole Award qualifying session Friday at Lime Rock Park to collect the first pole position of his IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge career and continue a strong recent run for Notlad Racing by RS1.
Gallagher turned a lap of 54.110 seconds (98.332 mph) in the No. 23 Notlad Aston Martin Vantage GT4 less than five minutes into the Grand Sport (GS) segment scheduled for 15 minutes. Just more than a minute later, a red flag stopped qualifying after Ryan Hardwick crashed in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. The lengthy incident clean-up drained the remaining time on the clock, preventing more qualifying and handing Gallagher his maiden pole award.
“It was good,” Gallagher said of his pole-winning lap. “I was actually up two-tenths (of a second) on that next lap running through the uphill when they started waving the red. I hoped no one else went quicker, but I’m just happy to put the Belle Haven Investments Aston Martin on the pole.”
Gallagher and co-driver Stevan McAleer are coming off a win in the No. 23 Aston Martin on June 26 at Watkins Glen International. They’re looking to keep the momentum going in Saturday’s two-hour Lime Rock Park 120 race.
“The car has been great; a good couple of weeks for the Notlad Racing by RS1 guys,” Gallagher said. “Job 1 of the weekend done; we’ve got a bigger one to do tomorrow. It’s certainly good to start up front.”
Bill Auberlen qualified second in the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 at 54.138 seconds (98.281 mph). Auberlen and co-driver Dillon Machavern lead the GS season standings, with 21 cars entered in GS this weekend.
As in GS, the Touring Car (TCR) class saw a first-time Motul Pole Award winner on Friday. Tyler Gonzalez logged his fast lap six minutes into the session, pulled the No. 27 Copeland Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N TCR into the pits a lap later and then watched while the competition unsuccessfully tried to knock him from the perch.
Gonzalez was clocked at 54.206 seconds (98.158 mph), impressive considering TCR qualifying began in drying conditions after rain soaked the 1.478-mile road course about an hour earlier.
“Luckily, the track was pretty dry so it was just a matter of who could get to the dry line the fastest,” Gonzalez said. “We were able to do our time in about half the laps everybody else was, so we should have some pretty good tires for the race.
“IMSA racing is all about strategy so it was just part of the plan and it worked out.”