IMSA: Ricky Taylor, WTR crush record to lead COTA polesitters
The dream start for Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R has rolled on in qualifying for Saturday’s Advance Auto Parts SportsCar Showdown for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Circuit of The Americas in Austin. Ricky Taylor’s pole headlines the polesitters for the two-hour, 40-minute race.
Ricky Taylor crushed the Circuit of The Americas circuit for a staggering 1:54.809 lap, more than 1.5 seconds clear of the rest of the Prototype field, for his second and the Cadillac DPi-V.R’s third pole in four races this season.
The effort by the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team was made all the more impressive after missing most of the morning practice session, producing limited laps. But with fixes made, the Taylor boys were back up front.
“Oh man. This feels so nice,” Ricky Taylor told IMSA Radio’s Shea Adam. “We’ve gone to new tracks, every style so far with the new car. So we have to completely reset. We knew the Corvette DP was good here. But 1.5 seconds isn’t the driver - that’s car. I’m very excited. It was on edge as qualifying always is. It’ll be interested to see how the tires wear.”
Ricky and Jordan share the No. 10 car and seek their fourth win in as many races to open the year.
Johannes van Overbeek, who didn’t get to race the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi at Long Beach as Ed Brown got collected on the first lap, qualified second with a best time of 1:56.401 to break up the Cadillac dominance at the top of the timesheets.
“It’s a testament to the Patron ESM team. We’ve been chasing setup all weekend. Our guys have kept making the car better and I wish I had even another shot at qualifying,” “JVO” told IMSA Radio’s Jim Roller.
Eric Curran took a separate No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac chassis into third, the primary car he shared with Dane Cameron having required significant repairs after Long Beach when Cameron made a rare mistake and crashed at Turn 8 there.
The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing and No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson cars completed the top five, the latter of which sees Marco Bonanomi and Jose Gutierrez now in the car after Tom Kimber-Smith and Will Owen were in at Long Beach.
GT LE MANS
John Edwards broke his own and BMW Team RLL’s own pole position dry spell in his No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM during GT Le Mans qualifying, topping a session where the top seven cars among all five manufacturers were covered by just 0.252 of a second. Edwards’ last pole was at Road America, 2014, while BMW’s most recent pole was with Bill Auberlen at Long Beach in 2016.
The young American posted a 2:02.833 lap, which edged Giancarlo Fisichella’s No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE at 2:02.865.
Edwards and Martin Tomczyk - or teammates Auberlen and Alexander Sims in the No. 25 BMW that qualified third - will look to deliver the M6 GTLM’s first win. In fact it’s been since 2015 at COTA when BMW last won in GTLM, with the previous generation Z4 GTE.
“We struggled a bit with the balance this morning but we’ve been more comfortable at COTA,” Edwards told Roller. “I was unsure what to expect. I saw the time and was pleased. No one went quicker. I just looked… top seven was quarter of a second. It’s starting to feel like DTM and the good old days of GTLM.”
Fisichella and Toni Vilander, meanwhile, will look for Risi to win a standard length IMSA race on the team’s home soil. The Houston-based team is within the same state, albeit not quite the same city.
The pair of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs were next followed by Jan Magnussen in the first of the Corvette C7.Rs and Patrick Pilet in the first of the Porsche 911 RSRs, again all covered by just 0.252 of a second.
New team, new car, new series, no problem. French driver Mathieu Jaminet, a Porsche Young Professional, stepped into the No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R for the first time this weekend and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the first time overall, and promptly stuck the car on the pole.
Jaminet does have track experience though, having won the pair of Porsche Supercup races here on the U.S. Grand Prix weekend last fall. His best time today was 2:06.523 in the car he’ll share with Daniel Morad.
“The lap was really good. We improved a lot compared to the first few practices,” Jaminet told Adam. “I’m really happy for my debut. It was pretty easy. This is a family team. I feel directly at home. It’s easy to come here.”
The usually tight GTD class wasn’t so on this day. Jack Hawksworth qualified second for the second straight race in the No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 at a best time of 2:06.623, and was the only driver within a second. A pair of Lamborghinis from Paul Miller Racing and Change Racing, the latter team in search of its elusive first podium after a pair of heartbreak endings the last two races, and Dallas-based Park Place Motorsports with its Porsche 911 GT3 R completed the top five.
Mercedes-AMG opted to qualify its am drivers in search of its third straight win, after victories at Sebring and Long Beach. The best of those four GT3 cars was Ben Keating, who along with Jeroen Bleekemolen have won at COTA several times, in eighth in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG Mercedes AMG-GT3.
Performance Tech Motorsports, which has won the opening two races in PC this year, is back on pole after just missing out at the class’ most recent race in Sebring. James French reasserted his authority with a best time of 2:00.066 in the No. 38 Oreca FLM09, which he’ll share with Mexican teenager and San Antonio native Pato O’Ward.
“It’s the best quality track time to get. Three cars and a time to show what we have for pace,” French told Adam. “The car was handling really well. It was a blast. With both (of us) Silvers, it’s an open book on strategy.”
French came up just short of an elusive victory closing in this race last year, co-driving with Nick Boulle, who was deputizing for Kyle Marcelli on another assignment at Sonoma.
Interestingly Boulle, who co-drove with French, O’Ward and Kyle Masson to victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona is back in action this weekend sharing the No. 26 BAR1 Motorsports entry with Stefan Wilson. Wilson has tested PC cars before but this marks his actual series race debut; he qualified the car second in class. Gustavo Yacaman took the No. 26 BAR1 car to pole at Sebring.