Felipe Albuquerque took his first overall IMSA pole position putting the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 that he shares with Ricky Taylor on top of the times with a lap in 1:14.441.
“That lap was just coming like crazy,” Albuquerque said. “I was four-tenths faster into the last corner and then somehow I lost it under braking. I think I lost like half a tenth in the last corner. I missed the apex. It was still fine. I’m happy about it.”
Albuquerque’s pole lap led a sweep of the front row for Acura. Dane Cameron had the second-best lap in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class in the #60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05 he co-drives with Olivier Pla.
Albuquerque and Taylor share a 41-point lead atop the DPi stands over Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr, who co-drive the #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R that will start fifth Sunday.
“With how close the championship is, track position is important,” Albuquerque said. “The level of everyone in terms of strategy is so accurate and so well-timed that it’s really hard to overtake. Knowing that this track is favourable to the Acura, it is super, super important to qualify on the pole.”
Kevin Magnussen will start third in the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R he co-drives with Renger van der Zande.
Harry Tincknell originally qualified the #55 Mazda fourth on the DPi grid, but post-race technical inspection revealed that the car’s camber exceeded the maximum permitted. As a result, the Mazda will move to the rear of the DPi field.
Ben Keating won the pole in the LMP2 class with a lap of 1:17.227 in the #52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07 he shares with Mikkel Jensen.
“What I’ve always heard about Laguna is if you think your car is set up well and handling well here, then you’re not going fast enough,” said Keating, who will start seventh overall. “Your car is always a handful around this track. It’s one of the characteristics of it.”
The #18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2 07 shared by Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel will start second in LMP2. Steven Thomas will start third in the #11 WIN Autosport ORECA he shares with co-driver Tristan Nunez.
For the fourth consecutive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race, Jordan Taylor has put the #3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R on the GT Le Mans (GTLM) pole position.
Taylor stretched his pole-winning streak to four on Saturday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, breaking the GTLM track record he set last year in the process with a lap of 1:21.151 seconds (99.281 mph). He will start first in class in Sunday’s Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship and he and co-driver Antonio Garcia have now taken the GTLM pole in every points-paying race this season except the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.
It was far from a simple effort for Taylor on Saturday, however. He traded the top spot with teammate Tommy Milner in the #4 Corvette more than once in the 15-minute qualifying session. Milner finished just 0.116 seconds off Taylor’s pace and will start second. Cooper MacNeil qualified the #79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19 third, 0.780 seconds off the pole pace.
“We were a little bit behind the #4 car all weekend,” Taylor said. “They seemed to be a little bit stronger throughout practice, so we made some big changes in Practice 2 and qualifying just to kind of make a qualifying car. We found some things for pure lap time, but I don’t think they’re going to work for race setup. It’s obviously nice to get the pole to get those points, and we have an idea of what we can do for the race as well from a setup point.”
The pole is the 20th of Taylor’s IMSA career and fourth at WeatherTech Raceway. However, Corvette hasn’t won at the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course since 2014, so Taylor said he and Garcia are banking on their experience here last year in the Corvette C8.R’s first run at the track.
“Having that under our belt and understanding more about tire degradation, what tire compound to be on and strategy with when to pit when we’re catching GTD cars, things like that, we learned a lot here last year,” Taylor said. “So, I think we’re in good shape. But at the same time, you never know in these races with the yellows and the different strategies.”
Trent Hindman earned his first Motul Pole Award in two years on Saturday, laying down the fastest lap in GT Daytona in the #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R in the grid qualifying session to lead the 13-car field in the class. It was a welcome relief for Hindman and co-driver Patrick Long, as the #16 team has started second three times already this year.
“I told the guys before we went out to qualify that if we’re second for the fourth time this year, I think some heads are going to roll,” Hindman said after posting a lap of 1:24.505 (95.340 mph). “There was a lot of motivation to make sure that didn’t happen again. Tons of work from the Wright Motorsports guys from Practice 1 to Practice 2 and going into qualifying, so the least we can do is repay them for all their time and effort.”
Starting at the head of the class, Hindman added, is the best remedy on the tight, low-grip WeatherTech Raceway circuit.
“You come to a relatively tight racetrack like this – low grip, lots of slow to medium-speed corners – it’s super hard to get close enough to execute a pass,” he explained. “Sometimes it happens but more often than not the track position is made up in qualifying or through strategy. That’s why there’s so much focus throughout Practice 1, Practice 2 to get the balance right and get what we need to get that one big lap in.”
In the ensuing GTD session for championship points, Ross Gunn led the way with a lap of 1:23.805 (96.137 mph) in the #23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3. However, Gunn was subsequently penalized for getting out of his car before the checkered flag was displayed in the session, moving him from first to last.
As a result of the penalty, Gunn and co-driver Roman De Angelis now trail GTD leaders Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley by 32 points, 1,962-1,930. Foley qualified the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 second in the grid session, with Auberlen also taking second in the points-paying segment. Laurens Vanthoor took the top points-scoring slot in the #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche.