Maxime Martin scores first ALMS pole position; Dirk Müller P3.
Maxime Martin made quick work of the classic VIRginia International Raceway by qualifying the No. 55 BMW Team RLL Z4 GTE on the GT class pole for Saturday’s American Le Mans Series Oak Tree Grand Prix. This was the young Belgian’s very first visit to the 3.47-mile, 17-turn circuit in Alton, Virginia. He stopped the watches with a 1:45.978 minute lap on his fourth circuit of the 15-minute qualifying session to set a new GT class qualifying record and score his first ALMS pole.
This is the third consecutive pole for the No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE (Auberlen at Baltimore, Hand at COTA, and Martin at VIR) as the team chases the GT championship in penultimate round of the series. Martin will share the car with Bill Auberlen this weekend.
Dirk Müller qualified the No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE third on the grid with a 1:46.174 minute lap. Müller will co-drive with Joey Hand in the Californian’s last ALMS race of the season. Hand, whose primary focus is the German DTM series, will attend the DTM finale at Hockenheim during the October 19th Petit Le Mans finale weekend. As the ALMS season nears its own conclusion, Dirk Müller remains the only BMW Team RLL driver with a shot at the GT Driver title. He currently stands second, 13 points in arrears of the leaders following two consecutive third place finishes at Baltimore and COTA.
Bobby Rahal, Team Principal – “I’m very pleased for our team and particularly for Max since it’s his first pole here in the US, and on a very tough course, no less. It’s a real driver’s circuit; very technical, and he knocked it out of the park. I’m also pleased Dirk in the No. 56 is P3; track position is important at VIR and I knew we could be strong here. Lots of straight line speed will be needed, but there are plenty of tough, technical corners we can take advantage of, so I’m looking forward to a great race tomorrow.”
Maxime Martin, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE – (1st) – “It feels good! It’s never easy for me [in ALMS] because I have to learn each track we visit, and we don’t get much free practice time at any of them. But I have a fast, experienced teammate in Bill Auberlen, and he’s teaching me a lot about the tracks, the traffic, and helps me get up to speed. This result shows that we’re working well together as a team and I’m very happy to have secured a pole here in the US. I’m really happy for the team.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – (3rd) – “First of all, congratulations to my buddy Max; I’m very happy for him. Personally, I’m pretty happy with P3, which will be a great position from which to start the race for plenty of reasons. The team prepared the car well and all I had to do was push it hard for a couple of laps. Now we focus to run a smart and clean tomorrow, and I feel confident that we will have an excellent race.”