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Acura storms to IMSA Long Beach pole
By Damion Smy
Saturday 15th April, 2023 - 5:42pm
Filipe Albuquerque has led an Acura one-two in IMSA qualifying at Long Beach with a lighting lap well out of reach for the rest of the field.
The Portuguese driver pushed his #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-06 around the 3.167km street circuit in 1:09.909, a nearly six-tenths faster than Tom Blomqvist’s Meyer Shank Racing Acura with a 1:10.498.
Albuquerque set the early pace with a 1:11.582, which was beaten by the Sebastien Bourdais with a 1m11.541s in the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-Series.R.
A 1:10.943 saw Albuquerque restored to the top of the time sheets, with the remainder of the 20-minute session a battle between Albuquerque and the Blomqvist’s Acura, who took more than 0.2s off the Portuguese driver’s time.
Yet a relentless attack saw Albuquerque go quicker, with a 1m10.371, before stamping his authority on the session with his 1:09.909 pole time.
Bourdais ended the session third-fastest – albeit more than second off pole – while Australian Matt Campbell starts eighth in the #7 Penske Porsche after co-driver Felipe Nasr’s 1’11.591.
Qualifying ninth overall, the #27 Aston Martin will start on pole position in the GTD class, with Dane Marco Sorensen pipping points leaders Jack Hawksworth in the #14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC-F.
In third was the Ross Gunn in the second Aston, who looked a solid chance for pole, setting the early pace after swapping fastest times with Hawksworth.
Sorenson then eclipsed the pair with just over three minutes remaining but his pole-setting 1:17.811 – a new lap record for the class – looked under threat as Hawksworth set a faster first sector.
Yet the Lexus’ challenged was thwarted with 1:40 left on the clock when Ashton Harrison’s Acura NSX hit the wall at the exit Turn 8 and began smoking, before the Porsche 911 GT3 R of Hyett also hit the wall and came to rest behind the Acura.
With the session red-flagged, both drivers walked away from the incidents, which also saw Sorenson’s time remain unbeaten, with just 0.147s splitting the Aston from Hawksworth and Gunn.
The 100-minute Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship starts at 14:00 local (Pacific Daylight Time) Saturday April 15/0700 AEST Sunday April 16.
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