Ferrari captured the pole position in the GTLM category in Friday’s qualifying for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Both Ferrari teams will be looking to add to their Road Atlanta track history when the 22nd Petit Le Mans takes the green flag at 12:05 p.m. on Saturday.
Risi Competizione won the inaugural event in 1998 with drivers Wayne Taylor, Eric van der Poele and Emmanuel Collard in a Ferrari F333 SP. Since then, the team has added three class victories, most recently in the 2016 Petit Le Mans. Scuderia Corsa is the defending GTD winner, with MacNeil, Serra and Gunnar Jeannette winning the 2018 event in the WeatherTech Ferrari.
Running in IMSA for the first time since finishing second in the season-opening 24 Hours At Daytona, Risi Competizione dusted off its red No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE and James Calado put it on the pole for Saturday’s 10-hour race.
Calado captured his first IMSA pole by taking the 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit in 1:15.639-seconds, a track record. He will be joined in the race by Alessandro Pier Guidi and Daniel Serra, resurrecting the lineup that captured GTE Pro honors for Ferrari in June’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“It’s great to see Risi back on top again,” Calado said. “It’s pretty awesome, honestly. I think it’s so nice to come into the box and see the emotion in their faces, their spirits have been lifted.”
Calado led a competitive session that saw five different manufacturers in the top five positions.
“All the manufacturers are pushing hard,” Calado said. “That wasn’t easy. The track is really, really difficult. But it’s a long race tomorrow. This is just one lap out of the many we have in 10 hours. It’s going to be about keeping our nose clean and learn from experience to see what happens in the end. But we’re there, we are confident for tomorrow.
“I’m just happy for Giuseppe [Risi], he really puts in a lot of time and his own funding towards this team,” Calado added. “He’s extremely passionate towards this sport. It just makes us coming into this and getting good results even more special. It’s great to see the team uplifted. This is just the start now. But there is always pressure. You need pressure. Especially for a team like this, you just want to do as well as you can. So let’s see, let’s try to get a win tomorrow.”
Jeff Westphal turned in the third-fastest qualifying time in an extended session to capture the inside of the second row. He turned a lap of 1:19.721-seconds in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3 that will be co-driven by Cooper MacNeil and Toni Vilander.
“We feel good about it, any time you are in the first couple of rows that is a good starting position,” Westphal said. “It is a 10-hour race; you don’t win it in the first corner or the first hour. I am happy with the qualifying effort. The WeatherTech Ferrari and Scuderia Corsa team has been great. Toni and Cooper are a blast to work with and I am looking forward to having a good race tomorrow.”
An incident only two minutes into the session led to a lengthy red flag. Rather than start the GTD grid by points, IMSA opted to extend the session by four minutes to meet the minimum 10-mile green-flag time.