Ricky Taylor Roars To Record Speed In Monterey

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Ricky Taylor earned the pole for the Monterey SportsCar Championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. (Sarah Weeks Photo)
Ricky Taylor earned the pole for the Monterey SportsCar Championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. (Sarah Weeks Photo)

MONTEREY, Calif. – Ricky Taylor is the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship track record holder at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

He broke the record – set last year by his brother, Jordan Taylor – on Saturday in qualifying for Sunday’s Monterey SportsCar Championship Powered by McLaren.

But Ricky, who drives the No. 7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi), was quick to report that his father – IMSA legend Wayne Taylor – actually had a faster lap at the picturesque 2.238-mile road course.

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“Jordan had the pole last year and I had the pole this year,” Ricky said. “But the first thing I saw was my dad, who caught me with a little piece of paper that said he did a 14.9 in the Intrepid. So, we’re still not as good as dad.”

Nevertheless, Ricky’s lap of one minute, 15.035 seconds (107.373 mph) broke Jordan’s previous WeatherTech Championship record of 1:16.181, gave him the Motul Pole Award and led a 1-2 sweep of the front row for Acura Team Penske. It was his 19th career IMSA pole position and he’ll look for his 20th career IMSA win – and first of the season with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves as his co-driver.

“Qualifying in the team is always emphasized quite heavily,” said Ricky. “We put a lot of work into the qualifying car. Qualifying performance this year has been really good. To get the front row is definitely what we’ve been going for.”

Joining Taylor on the front row will be Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 DPi. Montoya, who turned in a best lap of 1:15.343 (106.934 mph), will join co-driver Dane Cameron in hopes of preserving or extending their lead in the WeatherTech Championship DPi point standings in Sunday’s penultimate race of the season.

They’re currently seven points ahead of No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R co-drivers Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani. Nasr put the No. 31 fifth on the starting grid with a lap of 1:15.610 (106.557 mph), while Derani won here last year in the No. 22 Nissan DPi.

“I think, in the back of our minds, everybody’s main priority is the championship for the No. 6 car,” Ricky Taylor said. “So, by us blocking out the front row, we can kind of control our destiny for the race. Obviously, the No. 7 wants to win the races, and if we win that’s points the No. 31 car didn’t get. And the more points we can take away from the field, the better.”

Jordan Taylor will start one row behind his brother after qualifying third in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R at 1:15.488 (106.729 mph). He and co-driver Renger van der Zande are looking for their first win since the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. Van der Zande also won here two years ago with a thrilling, late-race pass on Cameron at the top of the Corkscrew.

Tristan Nunez qualified fourth in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT-24P DPi at 1:15.517 (106.688 mph). Mazda has won each of the last three WeatherTech Championship DPi races, a streak Nunez and co-driver Oliver Jarvis will look to continue Sunday. Nunez and Jarvis also won earlier this year at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

In LMP2 class qualifying, Kyle Masson picked up the third WeatherTech Championship pole position of his career in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA. Masson posted a best time of 1:16.817 (104.882 mph) and will go for his second victory of the season on Sunday alongside co-driver Cameron Cassels.

“It’s been a very solid weekend,” Masson said. “We came here with a very competitive car, and we polished it up and did what we needed to do to get the car to rotate. Laguna has such low grip and coming into the weekend, everyone was struggling with understeer so we tried to just focus on getting the car to rotate and getting it into the apex as quick as week could. From there on out, we had oversteer on the exits. It’s been our job to just manage that as a driver.”