Porsche has locked out both pole positions on a damp Virginia International Raceway for Sunday’s GT-exclusive Michelin GT Challenge at VIR. #912 Porsche 991 RSR driver Laurens Vanthoor secured outright pole early on with a lap of 1:40.630 that wasn’t bested by anyone in the remaining minutes of the GTLM class.
Fastest of the GTDs was Pfaff Motorsports whose #9 Porsche 991.2 GT3R driver Zach Robichon grabbed pole in a successful last-ditch effort.
GTLM: Vanthoor sets early unbeatable pole time
Starting the session with a dry racing line courtesy of the GTD sessions minutes earlier, the GTLM top contenders quickly moved ahead of the GTDs in the combined standings.
Laurens Vanthoor was the first to move into the 1:41s with a lap of 1:41.859 before being overtaken in the final minutes by a handful of other drivers. The Belgian immediately struck back as the #912 Porsche 991 RSR was clocked setting a remarkable 1:40.630 that proved to be unbeatable in the remainder of the session.
A final all-out attempt by Jan Magnussen in the #3 Corvette Racing C7.R and Ryan Briscoe in the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing GT brought Magnussen no more than second with a 1:40.708 and handed Briscoe third place on the grid as the Australian set a 1:40.786 at the chequered flag.
#66 Ford GT racer Joey Hand (1:40.956) was the final driver to enter the 1:40s, holding off #4 Corvette pilot Oliver Gavin (1:41.578) for fourth place by over half a second.
GTD: Robichon beats Japanese cars at the line
The GTD field was the first to set sail on the 5.26 kilometre ‘VIR’. With times dropping on the drying race track, both AIM Vasser Sullivan-run Lexus RC F GT3s took to the top of the charts with under 5 minutes to go in the 15-minute session. Frank Montecalvo’s 1:50.071 put his Lexus just ahead of Richard Heistand in the sister car.
In the Lexus-Acura battle that raged on throughout much of the session, Trent Hindman once again took first place as the track got faster and faster, only to have Heistand demote the #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 back to second.
It was, however, Zacharie Robichon in the Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 991.2 GT3R who snatched pole from the Japanese brands after the chequered flag was waved. The Canadian driver went quickest in the final seconds and being the last one over the line before the chequered flag did one more lap to definitively beat Frank Montecalvo, securing GTD pole with a 1:45.826 lap time.
Montecalvo ended the session second with a time of 1:46.150, while teammate Heistand (1:46.524) starts Sunday’s 2-hour 40-minutes race from third place. Hindman’s Acura placed fourth (1:46.524), with teammate Alice Powell (1:48.159) lining up fifth on the grid.
The Michelin GT Challenge at VIR starts Sunday at 13:35 EDT (19:35 CET).
Photos by Christian Rodriguez.