Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Taylor, Magnussen, Sellers score poles, plus Friday notes

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – Ricky Taylor (Prototype), Jan Magnussen (GT Le Mans) and Bryan Sellers (GT Daytona) have the pole positions for Saturday’s BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix. The race airs at 1 p.m. PT and local time, 4 p.m. ET, live on FOX network.

Qualifying recaps ahead of the 100-minute race are below:

PROTOTYPE

Despite pre-race Balance of Performance adjustments meant to limit the Cadillac DPi-V.R’s acceleration off the corners, with gear ratio adjustments, the Cadillacs still controlled qualifying in the Prototype class.

Ricky Taylor took the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac to the top spot of the grid, continuing his utterly dynamic start to the 2017 season with a best time of 1:13.509 around the 1.968-mile circuit. It was his first pole since Circuit of The Americas in September last year.

Taylor, who shares the car with younger brother Jordan, are in search of a pair of three-peats: the two drivers have won at Long Beach each of the last two years, and have also completed a “36 Hours of Florida” sweep at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Christian Fittipaldi took the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac into second on the grid, as the Action Express Racing team continues in search of its first Long Beach win. Fittipaldi shares the car with Joao Barbosa and Fittipaldi clocked in at 1:14.193.

Mazda Motorsports, competing on home soil only about 20-odd miles north of its North American base in Irvine, Calif., stuck its No. 55 Soul Red Mazda RT24-P into third on the grid with Tristan Nunez at 1:14.393. The first of the Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPis was fifth, with Scott Sharp in the No. 2 car.

Neither of the two LMP2-spec cars was able to make much of an impression until the end, Misha Goikhberg popping off a late flier to move to fourth on the grid in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson at 1:14.408.

Rebellion Racing took the overall pole at Sebring while Cadillac, in Barbosa’s hands, took the pole at Daytona.

GT LE MANS

It was a chaotic qualifying session with Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R taking the pole position, while a crash for the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Richard Westbrook exiting Turn 5 brought the session to an early end with a red flag. Westbrook lost the back end of his Ford, which had already undertaken an engine change earlier in the day (see below), with his wing and left rear quarter panel littering the track.

Bizarrely, Westbrook’s teammate scuppered Joey Hand’s progress on a lap that could have been quicker than Magnussen’s, and left Hand shy of eclipsing Magnussen for the pole spot.

It means Magnussen has his first pole position since Virginia International Raceway last year, and also won pole here in 2014. He and Antonio Garcia won at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring last month, Garcia having completed what Magnussen called a “Superman” stint at the end to win.

The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of Toni Vilander qualified third but had an incident during the session, Vilander having lost control of the rear end coming through Turn 9. But he made it back to the pits without any apparent damage.

With the sole Porsche that qualified (the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Laurens Vanthoor) and lead BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM of Bill Auberlen in fifth, it made it five different GTLM manufacturers in the top five of class, separated by only 0.163 of a second.

The times? Magnussen posted a 1:16.909, with Hand at a 1:17.001, Vilander at a 1:17.043, Vanthoor at a 1:17.056 and Auberlen at a 1:17.072.

This tweet from @IMSA applies:

GT DAYTONA

Four pro drivers qualified in the top four positions during the GT Daytona qualifying session for the 100-minute race, with Bryan Sellers best of the lot in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3.

Sellers won the pole at the series’ most recent street race in Detroit last June, which was Lamborghini’s first pole in IMSA competition. Teammate and co-driver Madison Snow won the pole at Virginia International Raceway.

This sets up a scenario where Sellers will start and Snow will finish in the No. 48 car. Sellers’ best time was a 1:19.243.

Jack Hawksworth took the only 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 which made qualifying, the No. 15 car he shares with Robert Alon, in second place for the team’s third race start. Hawksworth was only 0.033 of a second adrift.

Daniel Morad in the No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R qualified third, following that team’s late confirmation to race in this event. Morad shares the car with Porsche factory ace Michael Christensen.

The second Lamborghini in the field, the No. 16 Change Racing entry qualified by Corey Lewis who shares the car with Jeroen Mul, lines up fourth in the “Super Silver” entry while Ben Keating was best of the classic Silver drives in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG Mercedes AMG-GT3.

The second Lexus didn’t qualify as Scott Pruett sustained a heavy accident in the morning practice session at Turn 5, with heavy left side damage to the No. 14 car. The 3GT Racing team has been working all day on repairs, with the goal of starting the race from the rear of the grid tomorrow. Pruett shares the car with Sage Karam, the young charger.

VISIT FLORIDA OUT

Photo courtesy of IMSA

Owing to a brake issue, the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Riley Mk. 30 Gibson of Renger van der Zande and Marc Goossens is done for the weekend before it even begins. Van der Zande was driving at the time during the two-hour morning practice and the car went off into the Turn 1 runoff.

“Renger (van der Zande) had a brake issue going into Turn 1 and the car just wouldn’t get slowed down,” said VISIT FLORIDA Racing Team Owner Troy Flis. “We are relieved that he is okay, but it looks like we are done for the weekend. The damage got into the tub, and with this race being out on the West Coast, we just don’t have the access to resources that we’d need to continue this weekend. It is a shame for VISIT FLORIDA, but we’ll go back and look at what happened and work on our plan to come back stronger.”

This incident was one of several of note today, with others linked below.

OTHER NOTES

  • The No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT undertook a precautionary engine change between sessions today, but made it back out for qualifying.
  • The No. 911 Porsche GT Team had an accident before qualifying and did not qualify. Patrick Pilet shares that car with Dirk Werner.
  • Will Owen makes his IMSA debut this weekend in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson. The Castle Rock, Colorado native who went to school at TCU made a one-off appearance with Flying Lizard Motorsports in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at last year’s NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill, but has shifted to sports cars in 2017 with United Autosports’ Ligier JS P217 entry into the European Le Mans Series. The Mazda Road to Indy veteran raced three years, two in Pro Mazda and one in USF2000, and will head to Europe straight after the race Saturday night in preparation for the ELMS season opener next week at Silverstone.

Recap: Green Bay Packers QB Brett Hundley takes in Kohler Grand Prix

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When professional athletes decide to experience sports outside of the one where they make their living, it never ceases to entertain. Case and point: Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Hundley.

The 24-year-old Hundley spent the weekend at Road America, taking in the Kohler Grand Prix. His time at the facility began on Thursday, where he first paid a visit to Team Penske driver Will Power, who gave him a quick tutorial.

Will Power shows Brett Hundley a steering for a Verizon IndyCar Series machine. Photo: IndyCar

The next part of Hundley’s day saw him take a two-seater ride with none other than Mario Andretti. And, unsurprisingly, it left a big impression.

Mari Andretti takes Brett Hundley around Road America in the Verizon IndyCar Series two-seater. Photo: IndyCar

“The first lap, I’m screaming, and it’s the warm-up lap! And then the second lap: I’m just bright-eyed, going through corners. I give so much respect, that’s an awesome sport, man!” Hundley said in a media debrief afterward.

However, the day was not finished. Later on, Hundley showed off his arm strength and throwing accuracy by attempting to throw a football through the passenger side window of a moving Chevrolet Corvette. And while it took a few attempts, he eventually hit his mark.

Hundley stayed through Sunday and dawned a photographer’s bib in order to take in more of the action.

In fact, he even inadvertently photobombed second-place finisher Josef Newgarden during his post-race interview.

A video chronicling Hundley’s visit can be viewed here and additional photos from his weekend can be found on his Instagram page.

 

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Merhi confirmed for WEC return with Manor at the Nürburgring

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CEFC Manor TRS Racing has confirmed that Roberto Merhi will return to the FIA World Endurance Championship for next month’s 6 Hours of Nürburgring, replacing Jean-Eric Vergne.

Merhi previously raced for Manor in both Formula 1 and the WEC, making his most recent appearance with the British marque at last November’s 6 Hours of Bahrain.

Merhi’s last racing outing came in the Formula 2 double-header in Spain and has flirted with a move into Formula E, but was confirmed on Wednesday to be making his racing return at the Nürburgring on July 16.

Merhi will deputize for Vergne in the No. 24 Oreca 07 Gibson while the Frenchman is in New York for the city’s inaugural Formula E event.

FIA to re-examine Vettel/Hamilton Baku F1 clash

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The FIA has confirmed that it will re-examine the clash between Formula 1 title rivals Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix to see if further action is warranted.

Vettel and Hamilton made contact twice behind the safety car in Baku, with the second incident deemed to be an act of dangerous driving on Vettel’s part.

The FIA stewards in Baku handed Vettel a 10-second stop/go penalty for the clash – the harshest available penalty besides disqualification – but faced calls to issue a stricter punishment post race.

Hamilton said that the incident set a dangerous precedent for F1 and wider motorsport, but Vettel believed his rival deserved a penalty for allegedly brake testing him.

On Wednesday, the FIA confirmed that it would be re-examining the incident in a meeting on July 3, with a verdict set to be delivered ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

“Following the recent incident at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in which Car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) was involved in a collision with Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), on Monday 3rd July, the FIA will further examine the causes on the incident in order to evaluate whether further action is necessary,” a short statement from the FIA read.

“A statement regarding the outcome of this process will be made available before the upcoming Austrian Grand Prix (7-9 July).”

Wickens not interested in full-time IndyCar switch despite practice run

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Robert Wickens is not interested in making a full-time switch to the Verizon IndyCar Series in the near future despite his practice run-out at Road America last weekend for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Mercedes DTM driver Wickens was called up for Friday practice at the KOHLER Grand Prix in the No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda after Mikhail Aleshin was unable to make it in time due to immigration issues.

Aleshin was able to return to the United States in time for Saturday’s final practice and qualifying at Road America, with Wickens stepping back down.

The Canadian got his first taste of an Indy car in a car swap with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe in March, paving the way for his practice appearance at Road America.

However, Wickens is not looking to make a full-time move over to IndyCar anytime soon despite enjoying his run-out, with his focus lying with DTM.

“Not really, to be honest,” Wickens said when asked if IndyCar was something he would like to move into in Mercedes’ ‘Tales from the Paddock’ press newsletter.

“I just want to race cars. That’s the main thing. I have no urge to leave the DTM at the moment.

“Everything is going well, and I’m really happy with Mercedes.”

Wickens also went into detail about how rapidly things moved with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, having only been told the day before practice that he was required for the running.

“I planned on having a relaxing weekend at home, but on Thursday afternoon I got a call from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, which is the team that we did the ride swap with involving James Hinchcliffe back in April,” Wickens said.

“They asked if I could go to Road America and fill in for Mikhail Aleshin who had immigration issues. Fortunately, Toto [Wolff] was happy for me to do it and I was able to jump on a plane and get to Wisconsin.

“We didn’t get to the hotel until about 10pm on Thursday, and Free Practice 1 was on Friday morning very early. It took some getting used to.

“The practice itself was fun. The track was really good. It would be amazing to have a DTM race there one day.

“I definitely wanted to do the full weekend, but the full-time driver got his immigration stuff sorted and he made it to the race track by Friday night. My duties were finished, but it was still a really fun Friday.”