WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – It was a session of firsts for Alex Brundle.
In his first visit to Watkins Glen Int’l, he won his first career TOTAL Pole Award, and the first for OAK Racing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Prototype class. This weekend also marks the first time an LM P2 car will race at Watkins Glen.
Brundle put his No. 42 Morgan/Nissan on top of the charts halfway through the session with a lap of 1 minute, 37.902 (125.023 mph) and never looked back. He – and co-drivers Gustavo Yacaman and Ho-Pin Tung – will attempt to earn the team’s first win of the season in tomorrow’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. The race is the third round of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
“I didn’t get a chance to go to the test [at Watkins Glen in May]; I just set about it,” Brundle said. “But we worked well as a team. Gustavo [Yacaman] had been here previously, which helped. He was here and was able to share some knowledge about the track.
“The first time we went out on the circuit we immediately divided the knowledge back to the other two. There has been no infighting and driver bickering at all. Everyone is working toward the same goal and that has been very critical to learning a place very quickly.”
Christian Fittipaldi, who paced both of the day’s practices, qualified second in his No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP. Fittipaldi currently leads the Patrón Endurance Cup standings along with Action Express Racing teammates Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais, although Bourdais will relinquish a share of the lead by not driving this weekend.
Fittipaldi and full-time co-driver Barbosa are joined by standby driver Burt Frisselle for the third round of four in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
Barbosa is chasing a record-tying third straight win for Action Express in the prestigious six-hour race at Watkins Glen. He won with Fittipaldi last year and Darren Law in 2012. Current record holder Scott Pruett qualified his No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Riley fourth.
He has four career wins in this event, including back-to-back-to-back triumphs with teammate Memo Rojas from 2008-2010.
Michael Valiante qualified third in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP he shares with co-driver Richard Westbrook.
In the Prototype Challenge class, a back-and-forth qualifying session ended with Colin Braun earning his second TOTAL Pole Award of the season. Braun held off Tom Kimber-Smith and Renger van der Zande with a lap of 1:40.562 (121.716 mph) after the three swapped the top spot several times during the 15-minute qualifying session.
Braun also won the pole in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, a race he went on to win with co-drivers Jon Bennett, James Gue and Mark Wilkins. Braun and Bennett, the current PC points leaders, have won three of the class’ four races in their No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09.
“We came here and tested three or four weeks ago and it really put us in a good spot coming back to the racetrack for the second time,” Braun said. “We were able to unload the car from the truck with a reasonable balance and a good start. We’ve keep working at it and get better and better.”