LEXINGTON, Ohio – Oliver Jarvis and Mazda came out on top of an all-out battle to earn the pole for Sunday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday afternoon.
Jarvis secured his second pole of the season in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT24-P. After current DPi points leader Pipo Derani set the pace early on in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, the battle for the pole came down to a battle between between Jarvis and Dane Cameron in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi.
Jarvis and Cameron traded the top spot no less than four times before Jarvis finally posted a lap of one minute, 10.705 seconds (114.967 mph) around the 2.258-mile permanent road course to get the pole. He then ran out of fuel at the end of his final qualifying lap as Cameron appeared to be on one last flyer, but the Mazda had just enough to keep the pole.
“We basically had zero dry running (before qualifying),” Jarvis said. “We got a little bit this morning, but the track was still improving. I think what you saw was a combination of the track getting better, the drivers taking a step each lap, and then Dane and I just going head-to-head.
“It was a head-to-head battle, we just didn’t realize it at the time. I just kept getting a new update. I’d do, like a 12.0 and think, ‘Oh, that was a good lap.’ Then, I’d get told on the radio, ‘Target time’s 11.6.’ It’s like, ‘OK, I’ll go again.’ Then do 11.4 and there’s a new target time. It was great fun.
“This track for me in the dry – I mean, I was disappointed when it was wet, just purely because it’s such a driver’s track in the dry. You can really hang the car out and push. You can really find some time by taking a bit of risk, but you can also stick it in the wall and look silly. To come into pit lane in P1 and the car in one piece is fantastic.”
Jarvis eclipsed Helio Castroneves’ year-old track record of 1:11.837 by more than a second. That’s nothing new for Jarvis, though. He opened the year with the Motul Pole Award for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, breaking P.J. Jones’ 26-year-old track record at Daytona. He and co-driver Tristan Nunez will be looking for Mazda Team Joest’s first WeatherTech Championship victory on Sunday.
To do it, they’ll have to hold off a stout field that includes both Acura Team Penske DPis, which qualified second and third. Defending race winner Castroneves wound up second in the No. 7 ARX-05 DPi he shares with Ricky Taylor with a best lap of 1:10.727 (114.931 mph), with Cameron third at 1:10.806 (114.803 mph) in the No. 6 he co-drives with Juan Pablo Montoya.
Derani wound up fourth in the No. 31 Cadillac with a lap of 1:11.721 (113.338 mph) as he and co-driver Felipe Nasr look to preserve their current lead in the WeatherTech Championship DPi standings. They head into the race holding a two-point lead, 92-90, over Castroneves and Taylor.
Joao Barbosa made it two Action Express Racing Cadillac DPis in the top five, putting the No. 5 Mustang Sampling entry fifth at 1:12.320 (112.400 mph). Barbosa and co-driver Filipe Albuquerque won the most recent WeatherTech Championship round, last month’s BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach.
In LMP2 qualifying, class points leader Kyle Masson took the Motul Pole Award. He posted a best lap of 1:14.877 (108.561 mph) in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA he shares with Cameron Cassels. It was Masson’s first career WeatherTech Championship pole.
“It feels really good,” Masson said. “We had a strong race car last year. The conditions have been wet, so not much time to focus on anything, but we went on the knowledge we had last year and capitalized on it. We were able to improve the car regardless of the fact we didn’t have any