Pair of IMSA Stars Capture 24 Hours of Le Mans Class Poles

By Tony DiZinno

IMSA Wire Service

The 30-minute Hyperpole qualifying session Thursday for Saturday’s 24 Hours of Le Mans delivered drama in spades, with three IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship stars and cars producing starring roles.

IMSA regulars Louis Deletraz (No. 14 AO by TF ORECA 07) and Brendan Iribe (No. 70 Inception Racing McLaren 720S LMGT3 Evo) secured pole positions in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) and LMGT3 classes, respectively, and both by wide margins.

Deletraz, who races for Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti in IMSA’s Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class is part of the AO by TF lineup featuring “Spike” the LMP2 Dragon adorning the car, and shares the effort with AO Racing team owner and driver PJ Hyett and Alex Quinn. He’s one of many IMSA drivers in slightly different seats at Le Mans.

The Swiss driver, in search of an elusive first Le Mans class win after some cruel losses the last few years, posted a best lap of 3 minutes, 33.217 seconds around the 8.467-mile Circuit de la Sarthe. He briefly lost pole but took it back on the last lap by more than six tenths of a second.

“First of all, a big thank you to AO and TF. It’s amazing to do Hyperpole. No traffic. Le Mans at its best. To put it on pole was great and the car too. I am super happy.”

Iribe earned his ticket to Le Mans courtesy of capturing IMSA’s Bob Akin Bronze Cup in 2023, ensuring an automatic invitation to the event for his first time driving a McLaren. With several flying laps, Iribe’s best lap was 3 minutes, 58.120 seconds to deliver the brand its first Le Mans pole, by more than eight tenths of a second, upon its return to the circuit. He’ll share the McLaren with Frederik Schandorff and Ollie Millroy. (MORE INFO: IMSA at 24 Hours of Le Mans: Bronze Battles to Watch)

“It’s an honor just to be here and be in this race,” Iribe said. “To actually get pole is really a dream come true. I could never imagine we’d be on pole. I have to thank the entire team that got us here, especially my coach and longtime teammate Ollie Millroy. We started in GT4 five years ago, from not being in a race car to pole at Le Mans is an incredible journey. Ollie and, we call (Frederik) Fast Freddie – we got here because of him. Inception, everyone at McLaren. First year back in 26 years I think, and McLaren is on pole.”

While those two class pole positions were locked in heading into the waning minutes of the session, the Hypercar and overall class pole position changed on the final lap.

Sebastien Bourdais had a best time of 3 minutes, 24.816 seconds, but opted not to go back out in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R that he’ll race with Renger van der Zande and Scott Dixon. He got out of the car following a red flag for a BMW M Hybrid V8 going off course at the Indianapolis corner.

Alex Lynn, in the second of the two Chip Ganassi Racing-prepared, Cadillac Racing-entered and FIA World Endurance Championship-flagged car, actually snatched the pole position first by just 0.034 of a second, dropping to 3 minutes, 24.782 seconds. (MORE INFO: Cadillac Keen to Build after Strong Return to Le Mans)

That didn’t hold on for long though, as Porsche Penske Motorsport powered to the top courtesy of a last-lap flyer by Kevin Estre in the No. 6 Porsche 963, with a pole time of 3 minutes, 24.634 seconds. Come race day, the No. 6 Porsche will be joined on the front row by the No. 3 Cadillac – as the No. 2 Cadillac receives a five-position grid penalty from last month’s FIA WEC race at Spa.

Roger Penske’s team seeks its first overall victory at Le Mans and has three cars entered to do so, with its IMSA-flagged No. 4 car alongside its two WEC-flagged cars, Nos. 5 and 6. (MORE INFO: Potential Daytona, Le Mans 24-Hour Sweep Beckons for Porsche Penske Motorsport)

Saturday’s race starts at 10 a.m. ET, 4 p.m. CET in Le Mans, France. Here is a link of how to watch.