ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Ricky Taylor (Prototype), Dirk Mueller (GT Le Mans), Jeroen Mul (GT Daytona) and James French (Prototype Challenge) have scored the pole positions for Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase, the two-hour, 40-minute next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season from Road America. Quick qualifying reports are below.
Ricky Taylor laid down the hammer early at 1:53.058 and was never headed in the rest of qualifying for Prototype, for both his own and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team’s fourth pole this season. Taylor shares the car with brother Jordan and the two enter this weekend with a 19-point lead in the championship.
They’ll be looking to snap a two-race rut after winning the opening five races; additionally they will be looking to stop the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing crew of Dane Cameron and Eric Curran from winning their third straight Road America race.
The battle in Prototype qualifying was for second place, with the remaining seven cars in class covered by just over half a second. From second to sixth, just 0.157 of a second covered the rest.
Jose Gutierrez was best of the rest, an impressive second in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson he shares with Olivier Pla, but still more than a second back at 1:54.075.
The No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi was third in the hands of Scott Sharp (he shares with Ryan Dalziel) while the new Ligier in the field from VISIT FLORIDA Racing, the No. 90 car driven by Marc Goossens and Renger van der Zande, rolls off from fourth.
The second Patron Nissan starts fifth ahead of the second, third and fourth place cars in points – the Nos. 31 and 5 Cadillacs and the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson, which led Friday’s practice but fell down a bit during the sunny session.
GT LE MANS
Coming into Road America, the pair of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs got a bit of help from the series organizers – a boost increase – and the EcoBoost twin-turbo V6s then promptly boosted their win chances as a result of qualifying in GT Le Mans.
Dirk Mueller and Ryan Briscoe slotted their Nos. 66 and 67 Fords into the top two spots in qualifying rather easily, with Mueller scoring his first and Ford’s fourth pole of the season. Ford has not won since the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona but both cars are still in realistic title contention.
Mueller’s 2:01.422 lap was better than Briscoe’s 2:02.203 by a substantial margin. In third place, Alexander Sims’ best time of 2:02.211 in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM was the only other car within a second of pole.
Mueller shares his car with Joey Hand, Briscoe with Ryan Westbrook and Sims with Bill Auberlen.
The Nos. 912 and 911 Porsche 911 RSR cars were fourth and sixth, sandwiching the second BMW, with the pair of Corvette C7.Rs seventh and eighth. For the points-leading No. 3 car qualified by Jan Magnussen in the car he shares with Antonio Garcia, it will be a long road Sunday to move up the order.
Change Racing scored its first pole of 2017 in what’s been a year dominated by bad luck, in the stacked GTD class.
Jeroen Mul impressed in the No. 16 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 to deliver a best time of 2:06.649, which was 0.174 of a second clear of fellow Road America first-timer Jesse Krohn, driving the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3.
Mul shares his car with Corey Lewis and Krohn with Jens Klingmann. Neither Lamborghini nor BMW has won this year in GTD.
Patrick Lindsey took the Lime Rock-winning No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R to third ahead of Scott Pruett, in his first qualifying in the No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 and Andrew Davis, in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS.
First and second in points, the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 and No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG Mercedes AMG-GT3, roll off from eighth and ninth. Ben Keating, in the Mercedes-AMG, did outqualify the second car under the Riley umbrella, the now WeatherTech Porsche qualified by Cooper MacNeil, in 11th.
Neither the No. 80 Lone Star Racing Mercedes (mechanical) nor the No. 93 Acura (accident damage) was able to qualify.
It was another track, and another pole, for James French in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca FLM09 in PC. It’s his third straight at his home track.
French’s best lap on this occasion was 1:59.149, nearly three seconds clear of second-placed Don Yount in the No. 20 BAR1 entry.
French recorded his sixth pole in seven attempts this year, and fifth in a row. This was meant to be Pato O’Ward’s turn to qualify but a last-minute change saw the Sheboygan native back in the car to qualify. The pairing looks to extend their perfect win streak to seven this weekend.