Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG on IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport pole for Watkins Glen

Indy Dontje won the Motul Pole Award in the team’s No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT4.

At Watkins Glen International on Friday, Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport and Mercedes-AMG stole the show in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge qualifying.

Dutchman Indy Dontje led the effort by earning his first Motul Pole Award in the team’s No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT4 with a time of one minute, 54.709 seconds (106.704 mph). Dontje is in the middle of his first full season with Winward Racing in the top-tier Grand Sport (GS) class after running a partial schedule in 2018.

Dontje’s pole for Saturday’s four-hour Tioga Downs Casino Resort 240 is Mercedes-AMG’s second of the season after Owen Trinkler scored the top spot at Sebring International Raceway in March. The manufacturer has a total of three in the series.

“It’s really fast, we don’t even go to second gear,” said Dontje, who co-drives with Russell Ward. “It’s all third gear corners, here mostly high gear corners, which makes it pretty interesting and pretty difficult at some places. It’s really cool to be on pole here at The Glen.

“We’re going to change a few things, but the car in the base is really good. Actually, we don’t touch it so much and our engine and our engineer Tomas will do a great job on that and we will be prepared. Maximum prepared we can be for the race.”

Just a mere .171 seconds back and starting on the outside of the front row is fellow Winward teammate Christian Hohenadel in the No. 57 Mercedes-AMG. Hohenadel co-drives with Bryce Ward, who is Winward Racing’s team owner and the father of Dontje’s co-driver.

Winners of the season-opening race, Paul Holton and Kuno Wittmer in the No. 75 Compass Racing McLaren GT4, will line up third on the grid alongside the victors from Sebring, Tyler McQuarrie and Tyler Westphal in the No. 39 Carbahn Motorsports Audi R8 GT4.

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