Call it a Friday the 13th oddity, or perhaps some other mitigating circumstance – but the American Le Mans Series' Friday at Long Beach was, for all intents and purposes, a complete waste of a day. After the morning's two-hour practice session was swamped, literally, by a consistent drizzle and several puddles of standing water, the afternoon qualifying session was halted prematurely after only one of the five classes got full dry running.
As a result, the starting grid for the series' Tequila Patron ALMS at Long Beach will be set by points. Dyson Racing (No. 16 Lola B12/60 Mazda) will start on the overall pole after winning the ALMS P1 class at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.
“Obviously the situation is not ideal, although it's the same for everybody,” said Guy Smith, who co-drives with Chris Dyson in the No. 16 car. “Traditionally the Dunlop tires have been good on a green track, so we may have a bit of an advantage.”
The remaining prototypes, none of which ran a lap in qualifying, will all line up behind based on points. That means the Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a and Dyson Racing's second car will be next up. The quartet of P2 cars will be next, the Level 5 No. 055 HPD ARX-03b on the class pole ahead of Black Swan Racing's Lola HPD, Conquest's Morgan Judd and the sister Level 5 car. Black Swan's car will have a replacement upright flown in overnight, and had a front splitter replaced after contact during practice.
The PC class's eight cars are next up, led by CORE autosport with the No. 06 entry of Alex Popow and Ryan Dalziel. Popow is making his Long Beach debut this weekend, and the team seeks a repeat of its class win in 2011.
Both GT classes were at least able to get on track for qualifying, but only GTC was able to complete its session in full. The GTC class battle for pole came down to Leh Keen in Alex Job's entry and Michael Valiante in his class debut for JDX, Valiante eventually prevailing with a 1:25.859 to 1:25.923. The pole position was nullified when the GT class went out, the clear skies quickly turned to clouds and rain before the track was lost completely.
“When we were out, the track was the best it was, but there's no telling how we'll all go tomorrow,” said Keen, who along with Cooper MacNeil will start on the GTC class pole anyway – the car finished second at Sebring behind the team's sister entry, but that car has now advanced into GT from GTC.
Falken's Wolf Henzler, with the car that was also fastest in GT in the morning, was quickest among the GT cars ahead of Darren Turner's Aston Martin, Scott Sharp's Extreme Speed Ferrari and two Corvettes. Henzler accepted, but understandably wasn't pleased with, the decision.
“I accept it,” Henzler said. “Everyone needs the same chance. We showed were fast in the morning, and in the wet, and could be good in our slicks. I accept it. The weather forecast looks good tomorrow.”
With points as the fallback, the Sebring-winning No. 56 BMW Team RLL M3 starts on pole ahead of the two Corvettes, the sister BMW and Paul Miller's Porsche.
The race goes green at 4:30 p.m. PT Saturday afternoon.