ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Ricky Taylor blistered the previous IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype class track record and beat his next closest competitor by more than a second en route to his fourth TOTAL Pole Award of the season in qualifying for Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America.
Two days after his 28th birthday, Taylor posted a best lap of 1 minute, 53.058 seconds (128.896 mph) in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R he shares with his younger brother, Jordan Taylor, to secure the top starting spot in the 35-car field.
The brothers go in search of their sixth victory of the season in Sunday’s race, but their first win since winning round five on the season at the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic in Detroit in early June.
“The car was beautiful today,” said Ricky Taylor. “The team just really executed and gave me a really good qualifying car.”
While he had a sizable advantage in qualifying, Ricky Taylor is expecting a tough battle in the two-hour, 40-minute race, which will be televised live on FS1 beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET and also will be broadcast by IMSA Radio on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.
“I think tomorrow is going to be a different story,” he said. “There are so many really good cars. Once the finishing guys get in there, it’s going to make for an interesting fight.”
Jose Gutierrez earned a career-best starting spot and will join Ricky Taylor on the front row in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier LM P2 car. Gutierrez’s best time was 1:54.075 (127.747 mph) in the car he shares with Olivier Pla.
Scott Sharp will start third in the No. 2 Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPi he will co-drive with Ryan Dalziel. Sharp’s best time was 1:54.088 (127.732 mph). In the team’s first race with its new Ligier prototype, Marc Goossens qualified fourth for the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing team at 1:54.186 (127.623 mph).
Johannes van Overbeek completed the top five in the No. 22 Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPi at 1:54.189 (127.619 mph).
James French has already enjoyed a number of special Prototype Challenge class victories this season, including wins in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida and all other races this season.
However, a victory in the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America would be extra special for the driver who hails from Sheboygan, Wisconsin. French took a great first step in that direction on Saturday, taking his sixth TOTAL Pole Award of the season in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09.
French posted a best time of 1:59.149 (122.307 mph) to score his third consecutive Road America pole in the PC class, but narrowly missing his own track record time of 1:59.133 set in 2016. He’ll share the ride with Patricio O’Ward.
“We made some changes on the car,” French said. “We’ve had some issues balancing the low-speed and high-speed corners. It’s always a blast driving out here, it’s one of the most beautiful tracks on the planet, but I might be biased.
“This one has been elusive, I don’t know why. You’d think it would be the opposite. But we’re really looking forward to getting the victory here.”
Don Yount qualified second in PC with a best lap of 2:02.128 (119.323 mph) in the No. 20 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09.