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Taylors’ Roll Continues At COTA

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 6 2017

The No. 10 Cadillac of Wayne Taylor Racing is on top again. It won the pole at COTA on Friday. (File photo)

Ricky Taylor of Wayne Taylor Racing topped the lap record on the 3.4-mile Circuit of the Americas road course during IMSA WeatherTech Championship Series qualifying on Friday, claiming the pole for Saturday’s race.

Taylor, whose team has won all three series races this season, beat the field by more than 1.5 seconds in the No. 10 WTR 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 race 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 victory in Saturday’s race. They opened the year with wins in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Long Beach.

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.

Johannes van Overbeek qualified second in the No. 22 Nissan DPi he shares with Ed Brown, turning in a best lap of 1:56.401 (105.1 mph).

Defending series co-champion Eric Curran qualified third in the No. 31 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.

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Also turning in a dominating qualifying performance was Prototype Challenge 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.

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John Edwards put the No. 24 RLL BMW M6 on pole in GT LeMans with a lap of 2 minutes, 2.833 seconds.

“I have to say it was a little bit of surprise,” said Edwards, who recorded his 11th career pole and first since 2014. “I expected people to keep getting quicker, but they didn’t so we waited it out and I stayed on top.”

All nine GTLM cars were within 0.9 seconds of the pole-winning time, with the top seven within just 0.252 seconds. Giancarlo Fisichella qualified second in the Houston-based No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, just 0.032 seconds behind Edwards.

It wasn’t just the BMW of Edwards that was fast. RLL’s second car, the No. 25 driven in qualifying by Alexander Sims qualified third at 2:02.990.

“The conditions will be a bit cooler than we’re used to at COTA, but starting first and third for BMW should be to our advantage,” said Edwards. “It’s going to be very tight, but we’re at the right place to start.”

The points-leading No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Dirk Mueller qualified fifth, one spot behind teammate Ryan Briscoe in the No. 67 Ford GT.

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Mathieu Jaminet of the Alegra Motorsports team won the pole in GT Daytona.

 Jaminet, filling in for Michael Christensen who had a conflicting race in Belgium, turned in the pole-winning lap of 2 minutes, 6.531 seconds in the No. 28 Porsche 911 GT3 R.

“I didn’t know the team, my teammate, or how racing in the U.S. and IMSA would be,” said Jaminet. “I’ve raced this car in Europe, so not everything is new. I adapted myself very easily to the team. I came here last year with Porsche Supercup during the F1 weekend and won both pole positions and both wins as a rookie in the series, so I knew I would be very comfortable with this track here.”

The Lexus of Jack Hawksworth qualified second, but was moved to the back of the GT category after a violation of the ground clearance rule was found in post-qualifying technical inspections.

That penalty moved the No. 48 TOTAL Lubricants Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Madison Snow to the front row. Snow’s lap of 2:07.724 was 1.193 seconds behind the pole-winning time of Jaminet. Corey Lewis will now start third tomorrow in the No. 16 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 for Change Racing.

The 2-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.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 6 2017
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