It’s been a long time coming for Risi Competizione, but Finnish hotshoe Toni Vilander returned the team and its trademark No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE to the pole position in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class qualifying for Sunday’s AMERICA’S TIRE 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.The headline race of the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix weekend will be televised live on Sunday at 5 p.m. ET on FS1. IMSA Radio also will have live, flag-to-flag coverage on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.After topping the time charts at the end of Friday’s opening practice day, Vilander backed it up Saturday afternoon in the 15-minute qualifying session. Vilander posted a best lap of 1 minute, 21.914 (98.356 mph) to score his first career WeatherTech Championship pole and fourth in IMSA competition. He previously earned three American Le Mans Series poles.The most recent pole for the Risi team prior to Saturday came courtesy of Pierre Kaffer at VIRginia International Raceway in 2014, a race the team went on to win the following day. Vilander and co-driver Giancarlo Fisichella – who also was part of the 2014 VIR driver lineup – will look to duplicate that performance in Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race.“The GTLM field is so tough nowadays that you need to have everything in the right place,” Vilander said. “You need to have the right tires, you need to be exactly spot on with the setup of the car. We’ve been doing a good job the whole year. We’ve been performing well. We had some unfortunate races and unfortunate situations during the season, but it shows again the potential of the team and the car. Today, it was just a pleasure to drive the car.”Vilander outqualified his next closest GTLM competitor, Dirk Mueller, by 0.242 seconds. Mueller’s best lap was a 1:22.156 (98.067 mph) in the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT he shares with Sacramento’s Joey Hand competing in what amounts to a “hometown race” in Monterey.John Edwards – who won the GTLM race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2015 with then-co-driver Lucas Luhr – will start third in class Sunday in the No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM. Edwards’ turned in a best time of 1:22.177 (98.042 mph) in the car he shares with Martin Tomczyk.Eight of nine cars in GTLM qualified within one second.
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