IMSA: Ricky Taylor leads Acura 1-2 in Laguna Seca qualifying


Ricky Taylor led an Acura Team Penske front row sweep in qualifying for the Monterey SportsCar Championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Saturday afternoon, edging out teammate Juan Pablo Montoya for the pole position by 0.308 seconds.

Taylor’s 1 minute, 15.035 second lap was enough to set a new IMSA track qualifying record at the 2.238-mile, 11-Turn California road course. He will share the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 with teammate Helio Castroneves in Sunday’s race.

Brother Jordan Taylor qualified third in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, while Tristan Nunez in the No. 77 Team Joest Mazda RT24-P and Felipe Nasr in No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi qualified fourth and fifth, respectfully.

Masson claims LMP2 pole

Kyle Masson easily claimed the pole position for the two-car LMP2 class, out pacing class point leader Matt McMurry by more than a half-second. Masson, in th No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson posted a lap of 1 minute, 16.817 seconds to clinch the pole.

Krohn wins GTLM pole

Jesse Krohn set a 1 minute, 21.557 second lap in the No. 24 Rahal Lanigan Letterman BMW M8 to claim the GT Le Mans pole, edging out Dirk Muller in the No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT by 0.127 seconds.

Krohn’s teammate Tom Bloomqvist qualified third in the No. 25 entry, while Laurens Vanthoor qualified fourth in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR.

Ryan Briscoe qualified fifth in the No. 67 Ford GT despite running of course in the corkscrew.

Lewis wins first career GTD pole

Corey Lewis claimed the first  GT Daytona pole of his career by laying down a 1 minute, 24.962 second lap in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo as the checkered flag flew in GTD qualifying.

Lewis bumped Trent Hindman from the pole, and the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo will now start Sunday’s race from the second position in the GTD field.

Cooper MacNeil qualified third in No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3, while Zach Robichon and Robby Foley qualified fourth and fifth in No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R and No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, respectively.

The GTD qualifying session was extended by an additional four minutes after being red flagged for a crash by Patrick Lindsey in the No. No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche.

Lindsey was unhurt but his car was damaged significantly when it made contact with the Turn 11 wall. The No. 73 car withdrew from the event following Lindsey’s crash, as the team determined repairs to the car would not be complete in time for Sunday’s race.

Live coverage Monterey SportsCar Championship begins Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.

Click here for full qualifying results 

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Ford unveils a new Mustang for 2024 Le Mans in motorsports ‘lifestyle brand’ retooling

Ford Mustang Le Mans
Ford Performance

LE MANS, France — Ford has planned a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its iconic Mustang muscle car next year under a massive rebranding of Ford Performance aimed at bringing the automotive manufacturer “into the racing business.”

The Friday unveil of the new Mustang Dark Horse-based race car follows Ford’s announcement in February (and a ballyhooed test at Sebring in March) that it will return to Formula One in 2026 in partnership with reigning world champion Red Bull.

The Mustang will enter the GT3 category next year with at least two cars in both IMSA and the World Endurance Championship, and is hopeful to earn an invitation to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The IMSA entries will be a factory Ford Performance program run by Multimatic, and a customer program in WEC with Proton Competition.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, also an amateur sports car racer, told The Associated Press the Mustang will be available to compete in various GT3 series across the globe to customer teams. But more important, Farley said, is the overall rebranding of Ford Performance – done by renowned motorsports designer Troy Lee – that is aimed at making Ford a lifestyle brand with a sporting mindset.

“It’s kind of like the company finding its own, and rediscovering its icons, and doubling down on them,” Farley told the AP. “And then this motorsports activity is getting serious about connecting enthusiast customers with those rediscovered icons. It’s a big switch for the company – this is really about building strong, iconic vehicles with enthusiasts at the center of our marketing.”

Ford last competed in sports car racing in 2019 as part of a three-year program with Chip Ganassi Racing. The team scored the class win at Le Mans in 2016 in a targeted performance aimed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford snapping Ferrari’s six-year winning streak.

Ford on Friday displayed a Mustang with a Lee-designed livery that showcased the cleaner, simplified look that will soon be featured on all its racing vehicles. The traditional blue oval with Ford Performance in white lettering underneath will now be branded simply FP.

The new mark will be used across car liveries, merchandise and apparel, display assets, parts and accessories and in advertising.

Farley cited Porsche as an automaker that has successfully figured out how to sell cars to consumers and race cars in various series around the world while creating a culture of brand enthusiasts. He believes Ford’s new direction will help the company sell street cars, race cars, boost interest in driving schools, and create a merchandise line that convinces consumers that a stalwart of American automakers is a hip, cool brand.

“We’re going to build a global motorsports business off road and on road,” Farley told the AP, adding that the design of the Mustang is “unapologetically American.”

He lauded the work of Lee, who is considered the top helmet designer among race car drivers.

“We’re in the first inning of a nine inning game, and going to Le Mans is really important,” Farley said. “But for customer cars, getting the graphics right, designing race cars that win at all different levels, and then designing a racing brand for Ford Performance that gets rebranded and elevated is super important.”

He said he’s kept a close eye on how Porsche and Aston Martin have built their motorsports businesses and said Ford will be better.

“We’re going in the exact same direction. We just want to be better than them, that’s all,” Farley said. “Second is the first loser.”

Farley, an avid amateur racer himself, did not travel to Le Mans for the announcement. The race that begins Saturday features an entry from NASCAR, and Ford is the reigning Cup Series champion with Joey Logano and Team Penske.

The NASCAR “Garage 56” entry is a collaboration between Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear, and is being widely celebrated throughout the industry. Farley did feel left out of the party in France – a sentiment NASCAR tried to avoid by inviting many of its partners to attend the race so that it wouldn’t seem like a Chevrolet-only celebration.

“They’re going right and I’m going left – that NASCAR thing is a one-year deal, right? It’s Garage 56 and they can have their NASCAR party, but that’s a one-year party,” Farley said. “We won Le Mans outright four times, we won in the GT class, and we’re coming back with Mustang and it’s not a one-year deal.

“So they can get all excited about Garage 56. I almost see that as a marketing exercise for NASCAR, but for me, that’s a science project,” Farley continued. “I don’t live in a world of science projects. I live in the world of building a vital company that everyone is excited about. To do that, we’re not going to do a Garage 56 – I’ve got to beat Porsche and Aston Martin and Ferrari year after year after year.”

Ford’s announcement comes on the heels of General Motors changing its GT3 strategy next season and ending its factory Corvette program. GM, which unlike Ford competes in the IMSA Grand Touring Prototype division (with its Cadillac brand), will shift fully to a customer model for Corvettes in 2024 (with some factory support in the IMSA GTD Pro category).