The seven-time Trans Am series presented by Pirelli champion Ernie Francis Jr. surprised local favorite Chris Dyson in pouring rain at Lime Rock Park on Friday, winning the Motul Pole Award for Saturday’s Trans Am Memorial Day Classic.
Despite using only seven cylinders, Francis completed a 59.205s lap in the # 98 Future Star Racing Breathless Racing Ford Mustang to win his second pole of the season and the 49th of his career – 21st in the class. TA head.
“Qualifying went well, we’re still good in the rain,” said Francis Jr. “Maybe the car would have helped us a bit, we were out of cylinder for this race. It seemed to help us not to spin the tires too much on the track. So it seemed to work, but it’s something we’ll have to fix before tomorrow. We got pole, we’re very happy with it, and great to have those extra points for the championship. I hope we can extend this lead tomorrow. “
Dyson put his extensive knowledge to work at Lime Rock Park early in the tough conditions, clocking a fastest lap of 1: 00.051s in the # 20 ALTWELL CBD Ford Mustang. Ahead of qualifying, Dyson unofficially eclipsed his two-year record on the classic 1.478 mile course with a lap of 49.951 seconds on a cool, dry track.
“We made our normal modifications to the car which have worked pretty well for us in the past,” said Dyson, a resident of nearby Poughkeepsie. “The balance was pretty good, but unfortunately my visibility was really, really bad. I just couldn’t see there so I had the best time. I thought it was good enough to hold, and I walked in. Then Ernie went a fraction faster on the next lap. I thought we could try to improve but the trail got worse and the session was prematurely flagged.
“Growing up here, I saw this place in all kinds of conditions, and I was surprised how well drained the track was today,” Dyson continued. “I hope the rain clears tomorrow so that we can accommodate our fans, friends and family in dry weather. Either way, we’ll put on a great show.
Sports car veteran Andy Lally will start third in the # 21 Dyson Mustang, 1: 00.077s. Trying to improve his time, the Long Island native crashed into Turn 1, ending the session three minutes earlier. Lally won her only TA start in 2017 at Watkins Glen International.
“I’ve never driven a Trans Am car in the wet before,” said Lally. “I was very happy with the car’s balance, but we lost the windshield (misted up from the inside) and I just couldn’t see entering Turn 1. I missed my marker. brake and I just flew. Unfortunately, we went outside of turn 1 and marked the wall enough to slightly damage the left front fender. We were pushing for pole and I was just too deep.
“I feel bad for the crew,” Lally continued. “This is the first time in all these years of racing for Dyson that I have damaged the car. The team say the damage doesn’t look too bad so we’ll be on the grid tomorrow for the race.
Paul Fix II clocked the fourth fastest time for his first start of the season, clocking 1: 01.7890 in the # 4 Corvette StopFlex.com/Car Coach. Fix is the only driver to have won three consecutive Trans Am races at Lime Rock. (2013, 2014, 2015)
“It was like I never left,” said Fix, from upstate New York. “It’s a car I’ve raced in the past and felt very comfortable. I had never ridden with Pirelli rain tires, so at first it was a slow progression. I was trying to feel the level of grip and how fast I could go safely. I had to be smart to re-acclimatize. Even though we only did a few laps, I know it will be a great day tomorrow.
Several drivers, including Laguna Seca winner Tomy Drissi, Ken Thwaits and Kerry Hitt, chose to end their session after a few timed laps.
Erich Joiner was the XGT pole winner, completing a lap of 1: 03.418s in the # 10 Porsche 991 GT3-R Good Boy Bob Coffee Roasters. It was his second and fifth consecutive career pole in the category.
With SGT qualifying canceled due to the conditions, Justin Oakes clinched pole with the fastest lap in practice, 53.356 seconds in the # 11 Droneworks Corvette. Oakes is a two-time pole winner in 2021. Mike Phillips will start second in Corvette # 97 FAST Auto Racing, followed by local driver Jason Berkeley in Corvette No, 67 Falls Village Inn, the only Pro-Am entry in the field.
Philip Di Pippo has chosen not to attempt qualifying and will start from pole in the GT class in the # 94 Saasco Sports Ford Mustang. The Mattituck, NY driver led qualifying in his only Trans Am start earlier this year at Sebring.
Adam Andretti is expected to replace Doug Peterson in the opening TA2® practice and practice on Saturday. Peterson, currently in custody in Bora Bora, hopes to return in the No.87 Ford Mustang of the No.87 Three-Dimensional Service Group for Monday’s race.
TA / XGT / SGT / GT drivers take to the green on Saturday at 1:20 p.m. East for the 100 mile race. A supporters’ march will take place in the pit lane before the start of the race.
The Trans Am Memorial Day Classic ends Monday with a 100 mile race for the thrilling TA2 class. Qualifying begins at 9:05 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time) and the 68-lap race wins the green flag at 1:15 p.m.
The entire weekend will be streamed live on the Trans Am by Pirelli Racing app. Download and Subscribe: https://gotransam.com/news/Download-the-Trans-Am-by-Pirelli-Racing-App-to-Watch-Live-Events/70250