Ricky Taylor Puts Cadillac on COTA Pole in Dominating Performance
Friday, May 5, 2017

The Taylor train kept rolling at Circuit of The Americas on Friday, and maybe even picked up some more speed.

In qualifying for Saturday’s Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown, Ricky Taylor beat the previous IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship lap record on the 3.4-mile COTA track by exactly three seconds, and beat the field by more than 1.5 seconds to take the pole position in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R with a best lap of 1 minute, 54.809 seconds (106.6 mph).

It was Taylor’s second consecutive WeatherTech Championship pole – he took the No. 1 starting position for last month’s BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach – and was the 15th of his major U.S. sports car racing pole (five WeatherTech Championship, 10 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series).

“I know the times look dominant, but we made some big compromises for qualifying so I think the race is going to be really tough tomorrow,” he said. “We could see in the speed traps we gave up top speed to go for overall times, so tomorrow is going to be all about tires and raceability. We’re going to have to do some changes over night to make this a really good race car.”

Ricky and his brother, Jordan Taylor, are looking for their fourth consecutive WeatherTech Championship victory in Saturday’s race. They opened the year with wins in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida and the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix.

They’re the first set of co-drivers to have opened the year with back-to-back-to-back overall victories ever in the WeatherTech Championship and the first pair to win three straight races in major U.S. sports car competition since Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won three straight to open the 2011 GRAND-AM season.

It was a strong “Cinco de Mayo” performance for the Tequila Patrón ESM team. Johannes van Overbeek qualified second in the No. 22 Nissan DPi he shares with Patrón Spirits CEO Ed Brown, turning in a best lap of 1:56.401 (105.1 mph).

Defending WeatherTech Championship Prototype co-champion Eric Curran qualified third in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi. Curran’s best lap was 1:56.429 (105.1 mph) in the car he shares with Dane Cameron, his fellow defending co-champion.

While there was a 1.592-second gap from first to second, positions 2 through 7 were covered by less than one second on the Prototype grid.


French Continues Perfect Season For Performance Tech

Also turning in a dominating qualifying performance was Prototype Challenge (PC) class points leader James French in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09. French turned a best lap of 2:00.066 (101.9 mph), more than 2.9 seconds quicker than second-place PC qualifier Stefan Wilson in the No. 26 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA.

French and co-driver Pato O’Ward – who celebrates his 18th birthday tomorrow – opened the year with back-to-back class victories at Daytona and Sebring. Wilson, meanwhile, shares the BAR1 ride with Nick Boulle, who co-drove with French and O’Ward in the No. 38 at Daytona.

The two-hour, 40-minute Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown starts at 2:35 p.m. ET. Live IMSA Radio audio coverage and in-car cameras are available for U.S. viewers on IMSA.com. The race will be televised Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on FS1.

Qualifying results are available at results.imsa.com.