Points Leaders Top the Class Field in Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Qualifying
By Mark Robinson
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Corvette Racing continues riding the hot hand in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying: Jordan Taylor.
Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach: GTLM Qualifying | GTD Position Qualifying
Taylor put the No. 3 Corvette C8.R on the GT Le Mans (GTLM) pole position for the fifth straight race with Friday’s qualifying effort at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Floridian set the fast lap in the 15-minute session, at 1 minute, 16.801 seconds (92.248 mph), to collect the 21st pole of his IMSA career.
“Track position is obviously crucial here,” Taylor said. “It’s nice for us to be on pole and have another 1-2 for Corvette Racing, being the first time we brought this C8.R to Long Beach. It suited the track really well; we rolled off the truck strong.
“Street courses are great and we love coming to them,” he added, “but as a driver it’s very stressful when you have to get the maximum out of the car in a session like qualifying. It’s always nice to get through unscathed.”
Taylor and co-driver Antonio Garcia – the reigning GTLM season champions – will chase their fifth win of 2021 in Saturday’s 100-minute race on the tight and unforgiving 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street course. Taylor exudes confidence for the race, knowing that the simulator work and engineering scrutiny the Corvette team logged in advance of race weekend has already paid dividends.
“To be honest, it’s probably the best car I’ve ever had at Long Beach,” he said. “I’ve been here a few times before and it was the nicest car I’ve driven. It was probably one of the easier cars I’ve driven and still quick, so I think it speaks a lot to the car setup.
“Long Beach is always a one-pit-stop race. It’s all about execution in that one stop and maintaining track position, so qualifying is always a premium. … I think we’re in a good spot for tomorrow.”
Tommy Milner qualified the sister No. 4 Corvette second with a lap of 1:17.098 (91.893 mph). Cooper MacNeil was third in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19 at 1:19.686 (88.908 mph).
#1: Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3, GTD: Madison Snow, Motul Pole Award
Snow’s Pole Run Puts No. 1 Lamborghini in Position to Trim GTD Points Gap
Madison Snow and Bryan Sellers have kept the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 in the GT Daytona (GTD) title chase without winning a race yet in 2021. Snow put them in position to snag that first victory and close their points deficit when he captured the Motul Pole Award in Friday’s qualifying.
Snow clocked a lap of 1:19.475 (89.145 mph) with two minutes remaining in the GTD grid qualifying session to notch his second pole of the season and fifth of his WeatherTech Championship career. Snow edged Robby Foley (No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3) by 0.134 seconds for the honor.
“It’s always an advantage to start at the front, but I would even say more so being a street course where it’s hard to pass,” Snow said. “But I think the biggest thing is it’s risky to pass on street courses. It’s definitely wonderful to start up front.”
In the ensuing GTD points qualifying segment, Laurens Vanthoor turned a class track record lap of 1:18.957 (89.729 mph) to lead the 17-car field and reel in the maximum 35 points for the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R. It allowed Vanthoor and co-driver Zacharie Robichon – who are riding a two-race win streak – to climb within 20 points of Foley and No. 96 BMW co-driver Bill Auberlen for the GTD championship lead.
Roman De Angelis and Ross Gunn of the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 are third in the standings, 54 points out of the lead. Sellers ran second to Vanthoor in the GTD points qualifying session to draw the No. 1 Lamborghini within 82 points of first place.
“The points for the top four (teams) in our GTD class is all super tight, so it gives us a good advantage going into the race,” Snow said. “This is the best foot forward that we can go with for tomorrow, so we’ll see.”
Saturday’s race airs live at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and IMSA Radio.