The Alley

Ford storms to GTLM pole

Joey Hand has stormed to pole position for Ford at the end of a frantic qualifying where all four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship marques held the top spot during the session.

Hand wheeled the No. 66 Ford GT to a time of 1:42.507 in qualifying, the third session the No. 66 has led in a   dominant performance at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen weekend.

“Starting out the weekend, we were quickest in the first two sessions,” Hand said.

“I say it all the time, but it’s a testament to our Ford Chip Ganassi team, you have to roll out really strong. Especially like a weekend here, where the rain is strange, popping up here and there. So you don’t get a lot of time to fine tune it.”

The Ford GT will be followed on the grid by a pair of BMW cars, with the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM just beating the sister No. 24 car to the front row. Hand’s teammates in the No. 67 Ford GT will slot in fourth after losing valuable track time when Richard Westbrook had to fix an undone seatbelt before continuing.

Fifth place went to the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR. Porsche led the only session of the weekend not topped by the 66 Ford, Saturday morning’s soggy one-hour practice. However, when the track started to dry out for qualifying, they found themselves slipping back.

The pair of Corvettes wound up sixth and eighth in the session, split by the remaining No. 912 Porsche, but the entire field was covered by less than eight tenths of a second despite the changing conditions.

“I love qualifying here. Especially since they paved it, it’s super fun to drive,” Hand said of the session.

“You gotta throw down; hang on and throw down. It’s not as much grip as yesterday because of the rain but it made for a good fun ride.

“I was able to get just a full lap to finish and got it by just a little bit of a chunk. I know it doesn’t totally matter to start on the pole for a six hour race, but the race competition is always so strong, so you want to stay away from the messy stuff in the first couple of hours so that you’re ready when the dog fight starts and you gotta go to the finish.”

In Prototypes, it was Pipo Derani in the No. 2 Patron ESM Nissan DPi and Prototype Challenge had the No. 38 Performance Tech car out front, leading four of four sessions on the weekend. Pole in GTD went to the No. 93 Acura NSX driven by New York native Andy Lally.

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