Taylor puts #10 Cadillac on pole at COTA
The Taylor train kept rolling at Circuit of The Americas on Friday, and maybe even picked up some more speed.
In qualifying for Saturday’s Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown, Ricky Taylor beat the previous IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship lap record on the 3.4-mile COTA track by exactly three seconds, and beat the field by more than 1.5 seconds to take the pole position in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R with a best lap of 1 minute, 54.809 seconds (106.6 mph).
It was Taylor’s second consecutive WeatherTech Championship pole – he took the No. 1 starting position for last month’s BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach – and was the 15th of his major U.S. sports car racing pole (five WeatherTech Championship, 10 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series).
“I know the times look dominant, but we made some big compromises for qualifying so I think the race is going to be really tough tomorrow,” he said. “We could see in the speed traps we gave up top speed to go for overall times, so tomorrow is going to be all about tires and raceability. We’re going to have to do some changes over night to make this a really good race car.”
They’re the first set of co-drivers to have opened the year with back-to-back-to-back overall victories ever in the WeatherTech Championship and the first pair to win three straight races in major U.S. sports car competition since Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won three straight to open the 2011 GRAND-AM season.
It was a strong “Cinco de Mayo” performance for the Tequila Patrón ESM team. Johannes van Overbeek qualified second in the No. 22 Nissan DPi he shares with Patrón Spirits CEO Ed Brown, turning in a best lap of 1:56.401 (105.1 mph).
Defending WeatherTech Championship Prototype co-champion Eric Curran qualified third in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi. Curran’s best lap was 1:56.429 (105.1 mph) in the car he shares with Dane Cameron, his fellow defending co-champion.
While there was a 1.592-second gap from first to second, positions 2 through 7 were covered by less than one second on the Prototype grid.
French Continues Perfect Season For Performance Tech
Also turning in a dominating qualifying performance was Prototype Challenge (PC) class points leader James French in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09. French turned a best lap of 2:00.066 (101.9 mph), more than 2.9 seconds quicker than second-place PC qualifier Stefan Wilson in the No. 26 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA.
French and co-driver Pato O’Ward – who celebrates his 18th birthday tomorrow – opened the year with back-to-back class victories at Daytona and Sebring. Wilson, meanwhile, shares the BAR1 ride with Nick Boulle, who co-drove with French and O’Ward in the No. 38 at Daytona.
Still, the driver of the No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 posted an impressive lap of two minutes, 2.833 seconds, good enough for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class record at Circuit of The Americas.
I have to say it was a little bit of surprise,” said Edwards, who recorded his 11th career pole and first since 2014. “I expected people to keep getting quicker, but they didn’t so we waited it out and I stayed on top.”
In the always-competitive GTLM class, all nine cars were within 0.9 seconds of the pole-winning time, with the top seven within just 0.252 seconds. Giancarlo Fisichella qualified second in the Houston-based No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, just 0.032 seconds behind Edwards.
It wasn’t just the BMW of Edwards that was fast. BMW Team RLL’s second car, the No. 25 driven in qualifying by Alexander Sims qualified third at 2:02.990.
“The conditions will be a bit cooler than we’re used to at COTA, but starting first and third for BMW should be to our advantage,” said Edwards. “It’s going to be very tight, but we’re at the right place to start.”
The points-leading No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Dirk Mueller qualified fifth, one spot behind teammate Ryan Briscoe in the No. 67 Ford GT.
Jaminet Scores GTD TOTAL Pole Award For First WeatherTech Championship Race
One week ago, Mathieu Jaminet had not met anyone on the Alegra Motorsports team, or even his co-driver Daniel Morad. But that hasn’t slowed down the young Frenchman who scored the TOTAL Pole Award Friday for the Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown at Circuit of The Americas, his first WeatherTech Championship start.
Jaminet, filling in for Michael Christensen who had a conflicting race in Belgium, turned in the pole-winning lap of two minutes, 6.531 seconds in Alegra Motorsports’ No. 28 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I didn’t know the team, my teammate, or how racing in the U.S. and IMSA would be,” said Jaminet. “I’ve raced this car in Europe, so not everything is new. I adapted myself very easily to the team. I came here last year with Porsche Supercup during the F1 weekend and won both pole positions and both wins as a rookie in the series, so I knew I would be very comfortable with this track here.”
The Lexus of Jack Hawksworth qualified second, but was moved to the back of the GT category after a violation of the ground clearance rule was found in post-qualifying technical inspections.
That penalty moved the No. 48 TOTAL Lubricants Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Madison Snow to the front row. Snow’s lap of 2:07.724 was 1.193 seconds behind the pole-winning time of Jaminet. Corey Lewis will now start third tomorrow in the No. 16 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 for Change Racing.
The two-hour, 40-minute Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown starts at 2:35 p.m. ET. Live IMSA Radio audio coverage and in-car cameras are available for U.S. viewers on IMSA.com. The race will be televised Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on FS1.
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