Taylor Storms to Laguna Seca Pole
Jordan Taylor shattered his brother’s year-old track record at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca en route to taking the Motul Pole Award in qualifying for Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute America’s Tire 250.
Driving the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, Taylor posted a best time of one minute, 16.181 seconds (105.758 mph) around the 2.238-mile permanent road circuit to take the top starting spot. It bested the previous WeatherTech Championship Prototype record of 1:16.853 (104.8 mph) set by Ricky Taylor in qualifying here last year in the No. 10 Cadillac.
It was Taylor’s 10th career IMSA pole (eight GRAND-AM, two WeatherTech Championship) and his first since taking the pole at WeatherTech Raceway in 2015. Most importantly, it gives Taylor and co-driver Renger van der Zande a leg up on their competition for the 2018 WeatherTech Championship Prototype title.
They go into Sunday’s race fourth in the Prototype standings, but just 12 behind current co-leaders Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi.
“It was obviously good to get the pole,” said Jordan Taylor. “We’ve had a good season. Looking at the championship, we’ve had a top five every race except for Daytona. From a success rate we haven’t had a win yet.
Dane Cameron will start alongside Taylor on the front row. Cameron posted a best time of 1:16.576 (105.212 mph) in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi car he shares with Juan Pablo Montoya. Cameron is looking to avenge last year’s late-race pass for the victory by van der Zande when both were driving different cars than they are this season.
Helio Castroneves made it two Acura DPis in the top three with a third-best result in the No. 7 machine he shares with Ricky Taylor. Castroneves’ best lap was a 1:16.662 (105.094 mph). Pipo Derani qualified fourth in the No. 22 Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPi at 1:16.766 (104.952 mph), and Colin Braun completed the top five with a lap of 1:16.774 (104.941 mph) in the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA LMP2 machine.
Braun and co-driver Jon Bennett are currently third in the Prototype championship standings, 10 points behind the leaders. They’re looking for their third consecutive victory on Sunday.
Curran qualified the No. 31 Cadillac ninth with a lap of 1:17.415 (104.072 mph), while his Action Express Racing teammate, Joao Barbosa qualified 11th in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi with a lap of 1:17.525 (103.924 mph). Barbosa’s co-driver, Filipe Albuquerque, is currently second in the Prototype standings, trailing Curran and Nasr by seven points.
Gavin puts Corvette on pole
Oliver Gavin now has 22 career pole positions in IMSA competition, but it’s been a long time coming.
Gavin put the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class pole for the America’s Tire 250 with a best lap of one minute, 22.700 seconds (97.421 mph) during Saturday’s 15-minute qualifying session at the 2.238-mile WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. It was the first time the decorated English sports car racer qualified on pole since the 2015 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
“Thanks to everyone and the crew, it’s a maximum team effort to get us back to being on P1,” Gavin said. “It’s been a while for myself. I’m thrilled, but this is only a small step in what we’re trying to achieve tomorrow and that’s a victory.
“Once the green flag drops tomorrow, this is kind of a little forgotten. I think we’ve got a great race car. The car fell in a little nicely for qualifying, but the C7.R has been strong all year. We’ve had an amazing team, great strategies and pit stops. We just need to once again, execute tomorrow. The competition is at an all-time high in GTLM. To be able to beat those guys here today is pretty satisfying, but tomorrow, is when the real work starts.”
It appeared for much of the qualifying session that Corvette Racing would take a front-row sweep in GTLM. But German racer Dirk Mueller found some late speed in the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT to take second on the starting grid with a lap of 1:22.787 (97.319 mph). It’s a particularly valuable starting spot, as it placed Mueller – who alongside co-driver Joey Hand is battling for the 2018 WeatherTech Championship GTLM title – ahead of both cars he’s pursuing in the title chase.
Points co-leader Jan Magnussen qualified third in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R with a lap of 1:22.806 (97.297 mph). Magnussen and co-driver Antonio Garcia go into Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race leading No. 67 Ford GT co-drivers Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook by four points, and they’re nine ahead of Mueller and Hand.
Briscoe qualified fourth in the No. 67 at 1:22.850 (97.245 mph). Alexander Sims completed the GTLM top five at 1:22.972 (97.102 mph) in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE.
Legge, Acura Take GTD Pole
Katherine Legge led the way for Acura Saturday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, setting a new GTD lap record to claim the pole in her NSX GT3 for Sunday’s America’s Tire 250. Legge’s effort marks the second front-row start this season for the NSX GT3, and the first GTD class pole for Acura and Legge in 2018.
In Prototype, Dane Cameron took his Acura ARX-05 to second in qualifying, earning him a starting position on the outside of the front row, with his Acura Team Penske teammate Helio Castoneves qualifying third.
Legge needed only four laps to hustle her #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 to a new GTD lap record time of 1:24.456, taking the pole by a margin of 13 hundredths of a second over her primary rival for the 2018 GTD championship, Madison Snow. She will start tomorrow’s two hour, 40-minute endurance race before handing over to co-driver Alvaro Parente.
Justin Marks qualified the #93 MSR Acura 10th in the highly-competitive GTD field, and will share the car in tomorrow’s race with co-driver Lawson Aschenbach.
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