Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Jordan Taylor drives No. 10 Cadillac to new WeatherTech Raceway record en route to Motul Pole Award

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Courtesy: IMSA Wire Service

MONTEREY, Calif. – 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.

“Renger had the pole at Daytona which was huge, so it’s good to get back to that trend here. We’re 12 points back in the championship. It seems like we have a little bit more of a handle on our car than Action Express, which is our main goal this weekend. It’s our goal to gain points.”

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 No. 4 Corvette on Pole for First Time in More Than Three Years at America’s Tire 250

Oliver Gavin celebrates winning the pole at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Photo courtesy of IMSA

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.

First Motul Pole Award for Legge Bolsters Championship Quest at WeatherTech Raceway

Katherine Legge earned her first IMSA pole at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Photo courtesy of IMSA

With two rounds remaining in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, Katherine Legge put herself in a prime position to continue her quest for the GT Daytona (GTD) championship as she scored her first Motul Pole Award on Saturday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Co-driving the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 with Alvaro Parente, Legge narrowly eclipsed the previous track record – set by Madison Snow last year in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 – by.013 seconds with a time of one minute, 24.456 seconds (95.396 mph).

Ironically, it’s Snow and his co-driver Bryan Sellers in the No. 48 that Legge is currently chasing in the GTD championship. Snow also will start alongside the No. 86 Acura on the front row for Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute America’s Tire 250. Legge is 13 points behind the Paul Miller Racing duo.

“The team really gave me a good car and we’ve been working really hard on the qualifying setup and the race setup,” said Legge, who finished second last year at WeatherTech Raceway with Meyer Shank Racing and then-co-driver Andy Lally. “They are very different, so thanks to them. It’s all about tomorrow. It’s a really long day so I’m not about to count my chickens.

First Motul Pole Award for Legge Bolsters Championship Quest at WeatherTech Raceway

With two rounds remaining in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, Katherine Legge put herself in a prime position to continue her quest for the GT Daytona (GTD) championship as she scored her first Motul Pole Award on Saturday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Co-driving the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 with Alvaro Parente, Legge narrowly eclipsed the previous track record – set by Madison Snow last year in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 – by.013 seconds with a time of one minute, 24.456 seconds (95.396 mph).

Ironically, it’s Snow and his co-driver Bryan Sellers in the No. 48 that Legge is currently chasing in the GTD championship. Snow also will start alongside the No. 86 Acura on the front row for Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute America’s Tire 250. Legge is 13 points behind the Paul Miller Racing duo.

“The team really gave me a good car and we’ve been working really hard on the qualifying setup and the race setup,” said Legge, who finished second last year at WeatherTech Raceway with Meyer Shank Racing and then-co-driver Andy Lally. “They are very different, so thanks to them. It’s all about tomorrow. It’s a really long day so I’m not about to count my chickens.”

Full qualifying results can be found here.

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Dakar Stage 8 Highlights: Ricky Brabec blows engine, retires

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The motorcycle class of the Dakar Rally has been a seesaw affair through seven stages, but Ricky Brabec seemed poised to win the class for the USA. Until he blew an engine in Stage 8 that is – and gave up a more-than seven second lead. He was the second rider to retire after starting the stage as the leader. Joan Barreda retired in Stage 3.

Brabec was looking to become the first American rider to win in 27 years, but his fate was eerily similar to last year. Three days from the end of the stage, he retired about 50 kilometers into the stage, which is precisely when and where he retired in 2018.

With Brabec’s trouble, Toby Price leapfrogged from third to second in class despite riding with a metal pin in his wrist. In the world’s most grueling endurance event, it has never been more obvious that it isn’t over till it’s over.

Meanwhile, Nasser Al-Attiyah continues to run a consistent rally. With a 46 minute advantage over Nani Roma and Sebastien Loeb, all he needs to do is stay error free for the final two stages to win his third Dakar.

Here are some of the other highlights:

In the cars class, Sebastien Loeb scored his fifth stage win of the Rally by seven minutes over Nasser Al-Attiyah, but problems in Stage 3 have kept him from being competitive for the overall lead. … Jakub Przygonski earned his third podium of the Rally. All of these have been third-place finishes.

Class Leaders: Al-Attiyah holds an advantage of 46:29 over Roma and 46:45 over Loeb.

In motorcycles, Ricky Brabec’s blown engine opened up the class once more. … Matthias Walkner narrowly edged Pablo Quintanilla by 45 seconds. … But it was Toby Price’s third-place finish that helped elevate him to the class lead. … Sam Sunderland was supposed to blaze the path for the riders, but a malfunctioning navigation system kept him from rolling off first. Blazing the trail is a disadvantage and officials adjudged him to have tampered with his system to avoid that fate. Sunderland was penalized an hour to finish 35th on the stage. He dropped to ninth in class.

Class Leaders: Price inherited the lead over Quintanilla by 1:03 and 6:35 over Walkner

In side by sides, Francisco Lopez Contardo scored the victory over Cristian Baumgart by 4:47. … Gerard Farres Guell rounded out the top three.

Class Leaders: Contardo holds an advantage 0f 54:10 over Rodrigo Piazolli and one hour, 08:09 over Guell

In quads, there was no surprise in Nicolas Cavigliasso winning his seventh stage of the season. … He padded his overall advantage over Gustavo Gallego by more than nine minutes. … Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli finished third.

Class Leaders: Cavigliasso holds and advantage of one hour, 24:52 over Ferioli and one hour, 44:04 over Gallego

In trucks, Dmitry Sotnikov won the stage to take over the class lead. He beat Ton Van Genugten by 22:01. … Siarhei Viazovich rounded out the top three. … Eduard Nikolaev lost the class lead by finishing eighth – nearly one hour behind Sotnikov.

Class Leaders: Sotnikov holds an advantage of 26:49 over and one hour, 7:43 over Gerard de Rooy

Stage Wins

Motorcycles
Sam Sunderland [2] (Stage 5 and 7), Matthias Walkner [2] (Stage 2 and 8), Joan Barreda [1] (Stage 1), Xavier de Soultrait [1] (Stage 3), Ricky Brabec [1] (Stage 4) and Pablo Quintanilla [1] (Stage 6)

Quads
Nicolas Cavigliasso [7] (Stage 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8) and Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli [1] (Stage 3)

Cars
Sebastien Loeb [4] (Stage 2, 5, 6 and 8), Nasser Al-Attiyah [2] (Stage 1 and 4) and Stephane Peterhansel [2] (Stage 3 and 7)

Side-by-sides
Francisco Lopez Contardo [4] (Stage 2, 6, 7 and 8), Reinaldo Varela [1] (Stage 1), Gerard Farres Guell [1] (Stage 3), Sergei Kariakin [1] (Stage 4) and Rodrigo Piazzoli [1] (Stage 5)

Trucks
Eduard Nikolaev [3] (Stage 1, 2 and 5), Andrey Karginov [2] (Stage 3 and 4), Dmitry Sotnikov [2] (Stage 6 and 8) and Gerard de Rooy [1] (Stage 7)

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