BMW DQed, Gavin Nets GTLM Pole In Wisconsin

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BMW DQed, Gavin Nets
Oliver Gavin in action Saturday at Road America. (IMSA photo)

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Oliver Gavin may not have been fastest following Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans qualifying session, but he’ll be starting in the best position for Sunday’s IMSA Road Race Showcase at Road America.

Driving the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R and following a brief weather delay, Gavin initially qualified the car second with a time of two minutes, .663 seconds (120.722 mph) behind the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE of Tom Blomqvist.

However, following post-qualifying inspection, the No. 25 and its sister car, the No. 24 – which Jesse Krohn had qualified in the third position – both were moved to the back of the GTLM class grid for a ride-height infraction.

This is the first pole position of the season for the No. 4 Corvette and Gavin’s first pole since last year’s penultimate round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Gavin will share with co-driver Tommy Milner, who returns at Road America following a two-race hiatus after suffering a hand injury at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen a month ago.

“It was a good session for us,” said Gavin. “We found some speed in the car. I think it’s most probably the best the track has ever been here for our car in terms of the grip level. That little bit of rain and the way the conditions changed, it was super fast. And then it looked like the BMW was just that tick quicker, but now they got bumped. This day just keeps getting better and let’s hope this just continues on and into a great race tomorrow.

“Leading from the front, that’s the best place to start, so I will definitely take that. I’m very pleased for the guys. It has been a tough year particularly for the 4 car, but this is a great little reward for all those guys, all their hard work.”

Ryan Briscoe in the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT was elevated to the second position after initially qualifying fourth. Briscoe and co-driver Richard Westbrook are seeking their second consecutive win after capturing their first victory of the season one race ago at Lime Rock Park.

Briscoe’s teammate, Dirk Mueller in the No. 66 Ford GT, will start third.

Meanwhile, with five minutes remaining in the 15-minute GT Daytona session, a severe weather notice in the area halted on-track activity momentarily, but long enough to throw the checkered flag on qualifying for the class.

At the end, it was Keating’s time of two minutes, 5.250 seconds (116.349 mph) that was best-in-class and a new track record on the 4.048-mile road course.

Keating will share driving duties of the No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Jeroen Bleekemolen in the race.

“It’s shocking actually,” said Keating. “I’ve been racing in IMSA for six years now. I do love this place. Kudos to the Riley guys. We came off the truck with just a perfect car. That has enabled us to spend a lot of time with a really good car and get confident. Quite frankly, I’m driving here in a way I haven’t been able to drive before because I haven’t had the car for it. It’s been exciting, it’s been hair-raising.”

It was Keating’s first career Motul Pole Award in the WeatherTech Championship. He and Bleekemolen will seek their first podium of the season, with their best finish of fourth so far this year coming in March’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

“I knew that the third lap on these tires was going to be the best one and everything came together just perfectly,” Keating said. “I’m just really happy with the lap and really happy to be on the pole for the first time ever.”

Corey Lewis qualified the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 in second place at 2:05.663 (115.966 mph). Lewis – who is substituting for the remainder of the year for injured driver Ryan Hardwick – will co-drive with Bryan Sellers.

Matt Plumb delivered the best performance for the McLaren 720S GT3 so far in the WeatherTech Championship, qualifying Compass Racing’s No. 76 McLaren third at 2:05.723 (115.911 mph) within half a second of Keating’s time.

Plumb and co-driver Paul Holton have a best finish of 10th twice so far in the McLaren 720S GT3’s three WeatherTech Championship races.