In the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the field is broken down by class for qualifying. Each class gets 15 minutes for the competitors to turn in their best lap. However, for the session to count, there is a “Guaranteed Minimum Green Flag Time” of 10 minutes. When that isn’t reached, rules can come into play that disallow qualifying times.
On Friday, Ricky Taylor turned in the fastest lap of the session early on at 84.530 seconds (100.083 mph). However, just before the halfway point of the session, he crashed exiting turn 4.
The session was red-flagged as a result and never resumed. The guaranteed minimum was not met. As a result, Section 40.2.11 of the 2017 IMSA Sporting Regulations, entitled “Other Means to Set The Grid,” was activated.
What that basically means is that the Prototype class will start by team points. Wayne Taylor Racing has won all four races this season, so they would start on pole anyway under normal circumstances. Not so fast. Taylor’s crash triggered Section 40.2.5 of the aforementioned Sporting Regulations. In addition to Taylor losing his fastest lap, it states, “Any driver involved in an incident or concurrent incident resulting in abandonment of qualifying may be placed at the back of the starting grid in its category.”
As a result, Taylor will start ninth while the No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. of Christian Fittipaldi will start Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic from the overall pole. Teammate Eric Curran will start alongside. Fittipaldi and Curran were sixth and seventh at the time of the red flag.
Likely the team most disappointed by IMSA’s decision was Visit Florida Racing. At the time of the stoppage, Renger van der Zande was second quickest and stood to inherit the pole once Taylor’s fastest lap was taken away. However, starting on points means that van der Zande will be at the back at the class with Taylor since the team was forced to withdraw from Long Beach earlier this year.
In Prototype Challenge, the Performance Tech Motorsports show continued. James French claimed the class pole with relative ease. French’s lap of 88.494 seconds (95.600 mph) was more than 4.5 seconds quicker than Tomy Drissi in BAR1 Motorsports’ No. 26. Both of the BAR1 Motorsports entries qualified behind the entire GT Daytona class.
In GT Daytona, there were a number of strong teams in the hunt for the class pole. Five different drivers put their car on top of the charts during the session. However, once the dust cleared, it was Stevenson Motorsports’ Lawson Aschenbach who came away with first place.
Aschenbach’s lap of 90.200 seconds (93.792 mph) was ultimately one-third of a second faster than Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Katherine Legge in the No. 93 Acura. Paul Miller Racing’s Bryan Sellers was third quickest, followed by Change Racing’s Corey Lewis. 3GT Racing’s Scott Pruett will start fifth in class.
Three teams did not turn in a lap. The No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217-Gibson did not run all day on Friday. The No. 86 Acura for Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian also missed the session after Oswaldo Negri Jr. crashed the car in the first practice. Finally, Park Place Motorsports’ No. 73 Porsche pulled into the pits during the session, which forces it to start in the rear.
The Chevrolet Sports Car Classic is scheduled to roll off at 12:45 p.m. ET Saturday. The race will air live on FOX Sports 2.