Jack Hawksworth accepts the Motul Pole Award in the GTD PRO class at Road America. (IMSA photo)
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Jack Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat arrived at Road America believing their Lexus RC F GT3 would excel on the fast, sweeping corners of the iconic Wisconsin road course.
Their confidence was well-placed.
Hawksworth earned the Motul Pole Award for the GTD PRO class in qualifying Saturday for the IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend. The 31-year-old Englishman hustled the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus around the 4.048-mile circuit in 2 minutes, 5.365 seconds.
It was the sixth career IMSA pole for Hawksworth. Six of his seven career race wins in the WeatherTech Championship have come in Lexus entries fielded by Vasser Sullivan.
He cited tire management as the key to his latest pole, as well as an important factor for Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race.
“The car has been working really well and it’s been a great weekend so far,” Hawksworth said. “The Michelin tires last for a full stint, but when you want that magic kind of lap time, you have to push when the tire is ‘in.’ We used the first lap to build the tire temperature, and then obviously went for it on the second lap. It turned out to be the right strategy.”
Matt Campbell in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R came closest to toppling Hawksworth, but the Australian spun exiting the final corner while trying to complete a lap that live timing predicted could have been fast enough for pole.
Campbell’s best lap of 2:05.829 was good for the outside of the front row in the GTD PRO-leading car he shares with Mathieu Jaminet. Antonio Garcia rounded out the top three at 2:05.828 in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.
Foley Puts No. 96 BMW at the Front in GTD
Robby Foley prevented Vasser Sullivan from completing a GT qualifying sweep by putting the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 on the GT Daytona pole, 0.140 seconds ahead of Frankie Montecalvo in the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3.
Foley, teamed with IMSA’s all-time career race winner Bill Auberlen in the No. 96, turned a lap of 2:06.084 for his third career pole. Robert Megennis qualified third after running 2:06.237 in the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
Foley was pleased with the performance of the BMW M4, in its first year of homologation with the WeatherTech Championship.
He said getting a perfect run through Canada Corner, the 12th of Road America’s 14 turns, was key to his fast lap.
“Of course, it’s great to get pole,” Foley commented. “It just shows how hard these guys work to get our brand-new car well-developed and I’m loving it around Road America.”
An area of concern for Auberlen and Foley is their lack of experience racing the M4 in wet conditions.
There is a strong probability of rain for Sunday’s race.
“Normally I would love it, but we really haven’t driven this car too much in the rain,” Foley said. “We don’t know the recipe quite yet, but you’ve got to learn sometime, right?”
The prospect of rain doesn’t faze Hawksworth.
“Racing in the wet is always a bit of a lottery, but we’ve got two Brits in the car,” he joked. “So, I think we’ll be all right in the wet, and we’ll give it a good go.”