Castroneves laid down a brilliant lap to steal pole from the hitherto dominant car of the weekend, lapping the 2.54-mile road course in 68.674sec, a mere 0.056sec faster than ex-F1 driver Felipe Nasr in the Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.
The Acuras, which had not looked so strong in practice had clearly saved their best ’til last, for Dane Cameron was just another 0.037sec behind in third, ahead of the two Mazda RT24-Ps.
Given the tightness of the class, it was no surprise that some mistakes were made, Nasr taking a wild run off at Turn 1, and just escaping scraping a wall, Tincknell driving like Keke Rosberg using all the track, curb and more to try and improve his time.
Sebastien Bourdais clocked sixth fastest for JDC-Miller Motorsports, beating Renger van der Zande’s Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac, and Matheus Leist in the second JDC Caddy.
Patrick Kelly ensured PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports will start ahead of Era Motorsport in the two-car LMP2 battle, Dwight Merriman surviving a spin in the latter machine.
GT Le Mans
Tandy took pole in an astonishingly close battle for supremacy, in which five of the six cars were covered by one tenth, and the sixth was less than a further tenth away.
Tandy’s #911 Porsche 911 RSR lapped the course in 1min16.167sec, 0.014sec ahead of Antonio Garcia in the #3 Corvette C8.R who in turn had a mere 0.045sec edge over the sister car piloted by Tommy Milner.
Laurens Vanthoor scored fourth in the #912 Porsche ahead of the two BMW M8s of Connor De Phillippi and Jesse Krohn.
Montecalvo took pole for AIM Vasser Sullivan, his Lexus RC F GT3 lapping 0.15sec faster than Madison Snow’s Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and Jan Heylen in the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3s of Shinya Michimi and Misha Goikhberg clocked fourth and sixth, sandwiching Steijn Schothorst in the Grasser Racing Lamborghini.
Robby Foley was seventh in the Turner Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 that won the class last time out at VIR, with Jeff Westphal’s WeatherTech Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 in eighth.
Michael de Quesada had a trip off the track in the second Lexus and couldn’t shift the cut grass from his grille and front air dam, so elected to pit and settle for ninth. That still left him ahead of Gar Robinson in the Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3.
GRT Magnus elected not to go out for qualifying and instead save a set of tires for tomorrow.
Saturday’s six-hour TireRack.com Grand Prix at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta runs from 11.35am to 5.35pm local (Eastern) time.