Race Weekend Central

Ricky Taylor Spanks the Field to Take COTA Pole

Normally, qualifying sessions are relatively close in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.  Ricky Taylor made sure that wasn’t the case on Friday as he won the pole for Saturday’s Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown with a lap of 114.809 seconds (106.812 mph).

Taylor was the first driver to set a time in the session and never trailed on the way to the pole.  Afterwards, Taylor commented on his run and what the race may look like.

“Qualifying looked dominant, with that time,” Taylor stated in the pits.  “We made some set-up changes to get that time. In the speed traps we saw that we gave up some overall quickness, but it really handled well in the twisty parts. Tomorrow we will be preserving tires and focusing on having a good race car. We thought it would be a little cooler in May, but it is pretty hot. On my out lap for qualifying I knew it was going to be a tense session as the car was really on edge. We will really have to preserve the rear tires.”

The lap was nearly 1.6 seconds quicker than Tequila Patron ESM’s Johannes van Overbeek in second overall.  Action Express Racing’s Eric Curran will start third, followed by teammate Christian Fittipaldi.  PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ José Gutierrez will start fifth.

In Prototype Challenge, the dominance of Performance Tech Motorsports continued.  Much like Taylor in the Prototype class, James French was not challenged at all.  The first lap that French turned in at speed would have been good enough for the class pole.  However, French kept going.  By the end of the session, French’s best lap was 120.066 seconds (101.944 mph), just shy of breaking the two minute barrier.

French’s lap, which was good enough for 11th overall, was nearly three seconds faster than the best lap for Stefan Wilson in the No. 26 entry from BAR1 Motorsports.  Teammate Don Yount in the No. 20 was another second and a quarter further back.

GT Le Mans was by far the closest of the classes.  Jan Magnussen was fast early on in his No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, despite a fuel leak on Thursday sparking the team’s third fire of the year.  Luckily, this one was nowhere near as bad as the fire during the Roar Before the 24 in January.

Magnussen swapped fast times in the session with the Risi Competizione Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella.  However, when it came time to put up or shut up, it was the BMW Team RLL No. 24 of John Edwards that came to the front with a lap of 122.833 seconds (99.647 mph) to take BMW’s first pole of 2017.

Edwards won the pole, but it was extremely close.  He was just three-hundredths of a second faster than Fisichella.  Alexander Sims‘ final lap moved him up to third, a tenth and a half off pole.  Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ryan Briscoe was fourth, while his teammate Dirk Müller was nine-thousandths of a second behind him in fifth.  The top seven cars in the class (including Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette and Patrick Pilet in the No. 911 Porsche) were separated by just over a quarter of a second.

In GT Daytona, it was series debutant Mathieu Jaminet who put the Alegra Motorsports No. 28 Porsche 911 GT3 R on the class pole.  Jaminet’s lap of 126.531 seconds (96.735 mph) was just under a tenth of a second quicker than 3GT Racing’s Jack Hawksworth in the No. 15 Lexus.

However, Hawksworth won’t be able to start there.  In post-qualifying inspection, the No. 15 Lexus flunked the ground clearance inspection.  As per Article 43.4 of the 2017 IMSA Sporting Regulations, Hawksworth will have to start the race from the rear of the field.  However, Hawksworth did get to keep his time.

As a result of Hawksworth being put to the rear, Paul Miller Racing’s Madison Snow inherited second in class, nearly 1.2 seconds slower than Jaminet.  Change Racing’s Corey Lewis will start third, while Park Place Motorsports’ Patrick Lindsey will grid up in fourth.  Stevenson Motorsports’ Andrew Davis will start fifth.

The Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown is scheduled to start at approximately 2:45 p.m. EDT.  However, coverage of the race will air on tape delay at 7 p.m. on FOX Sports 1.

About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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