STEAM CORNERS, Ohio — The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona qualifying session for Sunday’s Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio may have been delayed by half an hour, thanks to a lightning storm accompanied by a rain shower, but it was worth the wait.
On a rapidly drying track, the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing and No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3s traded fast times with the No. 27 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3 throughout the session before Paul Miller’s Madison Snow secured the Motul Pole Award with a lap of 1:20.525, just two tenths of a second better than Stevan McAleer managed in the Mercedes-AMG.
Although Mid-Ohio’s Keyhole turn was decidedly damp in the opening minutes of the session – occasioning agricultural excursions by the No. 70 inception racing McLaren and the No. 17 Vasser Sullivan Lexus – the pavement soon dried. But it wasn’t until the final moments of the 15-minute session that lap times really tumbled, a fact that Snow put down more to cool track temperatures than a drying track.
“With the cool track, it took a lot of laps for the tire pressures and temperatures to come up,” he said. “So, you just had to keep pushing, pushing every lap.”
The fact that every trip through the Keyhole was a step into the unknown – with changing conditions each time around – made it all the more challenging.
“It wasn’t until the last two or three laps that the Keyhole was consistent from lap to lap,” said Snow. “Having a spotter there and another watching the end of the straightaway really helped, because they could watch the other cars and report where they were braking. Still, when the Keyhole was slippery it was hard to trust that you could carry your braking deep into turn three.”
Heart of Racing Team’s Roman De Angelis posted a best lap of 1:20.822 to claim third spot, while defending GTD Mid-Ohio winner Robby Foley slotted the Turner BMW into fourth on the grid with a 1:21.012 – just ahead of the No. 57 Windward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Russell Ward at 1:21.016.
If qualifying is any measure, the GTD standings could be in for a shake-up, as the championship-leading No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R qualified 16th today, even as the No. 32 Winward Mercedes-AMG and No. 96 Turner BMW – second and third in points at the moment – start from the first two rows. Then again, Wright Motorsports’ Ryan Hardwick and Jan Heylen came from 11th on the GTD grid to a class win at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca a fortnight ago.