Mazda wins prototype pole for IMSA SportsCar Championship at Laguna Seca – Autoweek

Manufacturer sweeps front row along with record-breaking performance

It was a lengthy time coming, yet Mazda’s persistence in sticking along with its Prototype regimen is finally paying off. For the initial time, the Mazda Prototypes qualified initial and second, and they did it at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Continental Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda.

Tristan Nunez laid down a lap of 1:18.143 in the No. 55 Auto he shares along with Jonathan Bomarito, that was fastest in the last method session. A close 2nd — 0.236 2nd spine — was Tom Long, in the No. 70 Auto he co-steers along with Joel Miller.

“I’m at a loss for words,” said Mazda driver Nunez. “I believe we all of are. Our Auto loves this track, and we merely pushed as difficult as we could. I’m very honored,” he said, to grab Mazda’s initial Prototype pole due to the fact that October of 2013, in the American Le Mans Collection along with Dyson Racing.

Mazda tried to be competitive the initial 2 years of the WeatherTech Championship along with a diesel engine, foreshadowing the consumer Mazda 6 diesel that was destined to come to America, yet never ever did. 

The diesel just wasn’t a competitive race engine in the Prototype class, though, and at the initial of this year, Mazda changed over to a turbocharged four-cylinder gas-powered engine much like that engine utilized in the Dyson Racing Auto in the ALMS. That brand-new engine has actually helped provide Mazda just what Nunez called “a competitive package.”

Third in Prototypes was Dane Cameron in the No. 31 Whelen Action Express Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype he shares along with Eric Curran.

In GT Le Mans, Ferrari spoiled Ford’s run for its initial pole for the Ford GT, along with Daniel Serra making a last-min dash in the No. 68 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE to earn rapid time. Serra’s ideal lap of 1:22.867 edged out Ford GT driver Ryan Briscoe by .079 second. 

Serra shares his Ferrari along with Alessandro Pier Guidi, while Briscoe co-steers along with Richard Westbrook. owned it not been for the Ferrari, Ford would certainly have actually owned the leading 2 times in the class, as the No. 66 Ford GT of Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand was the 3rd fastest car. Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin, winners of the initial 2 races this year, were fourth in the No. 4 Corvette Racing C7.R.

Prototype Challenge qualifying was an ultra-competitive affair along with 3 cars switching spots ideal up until the last lap. Coming out about leading was Robert Alon, that shares the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen ORECA/Chevrolet along with Tom Kimber Smith, along with a ideal lap of 1:21.146. 

Second was the No. 38 Performance Tech Auto of James French and Kyle Marcell, and 3rd was the No. 8 Starworks Auto of Alex Popow and Renger van der Zande. The leading 3 cars were much less compared to a half-2nd apart. 

In GT Daytona, it’s no surprise that Alex Riberas qualified the No. 23 Alex Task Racing/Group Seattle Porsche 911 GT3 R about the pole, due to the fact that he and co-driver Mario Farnbacher have actually consistently led the 17-Auto class in practice.

Riberas, that has actually never ever raced at the track, turned a rapid lap of 1:25.775, which was 0.722 2nd in advance of the most effective lap from Christina Nielsen, driving the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 she shares along with Alessandro Balzan. 3rd was the No. 73 Park Place/Justice Brothers Porsche 911 GT3 R of Patrick Lindsey and Joerg Bergmeister, despite an off-road excursion for Lindsey throughout qualifying.

“It’s nearly inconceivable to grab a excellent lap here, and my lap wasn’t perfect,” Riberas said. “yet this is among my favored tracks now.” 

The Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda features the Prototype and GT Le Mans courses at 11:15 a.m. PT about Sunday (live, FS1, 2 p.m. ET), followed by the Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona courses at 3:45 p.m. PT (live, FS2, 6:30 p.m. ET).

By Steven Cole Smith, IMSA Wire Program