Nick Tandy is on a roll. One month ago, the driver from Bedford, England, scored an overall victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Porsche 919 Hybrid. Today he became the first driver in the GTLM class to repeat as pole winner since the inception of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in January 2014, ending a streak of 15 different pole winners.
Tandy claimed his second series pole with a 1:14.829 lap on the challenging Canadian Tire Motorsport Park circuit in the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR. He previously won the GTLM pole at Road Atlanta in October 2014, and today he broke the CTMP track qualifying record set last year by Kuno Wittmer’s Viper at 1:15.206.
When the session began, the Porsches and BMWs patiently waited in the pit lane while the other GTLM entries took to the track. Tandy completed only eight laps in the 15-minute session, while the Corvettes made 11 circuits.
“We waited for some of the other cars to clear the rubber from the previous race off the circuit and put some Michelin rubber down,” Tandy explained. “The top three cars were the last three cars to go out, so that was a good tactic by the team.”
The weather was glorious, but the warm and sunny summer day in Ontario was a concern for the teams.
“I thought we’d struggle in the hot conditions,” the Le Mans winner revealed. “This morning we were quick, but it was much cooler. Normally our Porsche doesn’t like it when the heat comes out, but the car was good enough to make up for it. It’s good to be back at the front!”
A pair of BMWs will start behind Tandy. Dirk Werner qualified the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE second, just .028 seconds back from the pole-winning Porsche. Lucas Luhr put the No. 24 BMW Z4 third, and Pierre Kaffer will start the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia fourth on the GTLM grid.
Oliver Gavin was disappointed to qualify his Le Mans-winning Corvette C7.R seventh in the fiercely competitive class. “It’s close, it’s tight, it’s going to be a very competitive race,” said the Englishman. “With the number of laps I ran in qualifying, we may just start at the back on new tires.”
As always, race strategy and savvy driving will play key roles in the outcome of the GTLM competition at CTMP.