IMSA WeatherTech Championship

Acura Holds True to Early Form at Mid-Ohio Practice

BMW Edges Lexus for Honors in GTD

May 13, 2022
By John Oreovicz
IMSA Wire Service

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Recent history suggests there are two manufacturer favorites heading into the Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio, the fifth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Acura is undefeated at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course during the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) era dating to 2018, with Ricky Taylor – who currently shares the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 DPi with Filipe Albuquerque – taking the overall race win in three of the last four years.

In the GT Daytona (GTD) class for production-based cars built to international GT3 regulations, Lexus has enjoyed similar success. Lexus won its first WeatherTech Championship race at Mid-Ohio in 2018, and the RC F GT3 triumphed again in 2019 and ’20 before the streak ended with a second-place finish in 2021.

Acura backed up those statistics at Mid-Ohio on Friday in a 90-minute practice session ahead of Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race. Albuquerque turned the fastest lap of the day, timed at 1 minute, 11.828 seconds (113.170 mph), narrowly edging the No. 60 Meyer-Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura driven by Tom Blomqvist (1:11.904/113.050 mph).

Taylor and Albuquerque are coming off a victory in the last WeatherTech Championship event two weeks ago at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, where Albuquerque anchored the win in a tense duel to the finish with Blomqvist.

The two Acura teams enter the Mid-Ohio weekend deadlocked at the top of the DPi point standings. Taylor acknowledged that the Acuras need to capitalize on weekends like this against their competitors from Cadillac.

“For the Acura, Laguna Seca, Mid-Ohio and Road America are the places we really need to do our job to get the most points possible,” Taylor said.

“This is kind of a replay of the game plan from Laguna. We need to go win the race and get the most points again because once we get to Detroit, we expect it to swing back the other way.”

Jarvis, Blomqvist’s co-driver in the No. 60 MSR Acura, shares the same mindset.

“It’s important that we capitalize at tracks that do suit the Acura and come away with maximum points,” Jarvis said. “This is (team co-owner) Mike Shank’s home race, and amazingly, the team has never won here. We want to put that right, Tom and myself.”

Earl Bamber was quickest among the four Cadillacs on Friday, with a lap of 1:12.330 (112.384 mph) in the No. 02 Cadillac Accessories entry operated by Chip Ganassi Racing.

In GTD, two-time Mid-Ohio winner Jack Hawksworth set the pace in the No. 17 Vasser Sullivan Lexus until a late lap by Robby Foley in the No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW M4 GT3 stole class honors. Foley’s effort was clocked at 1:21.220 (100.083 mph).

Bryan Sellers was third fastest in the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, with Aaron Telitz – who won with Hawksworth at Mid-Ohio in 2020 – fourth in the No. 12 Lexus.

In the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class, Ryan Dalziel took over at the top of the timing chart with just six minutes remaining in the practice. His lap of 1:13.478 (110.628 mph) in the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2 07 was 0.407 seconds better than Jonathan Bomarito in the No. 11 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsport ORECA.

In Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3), Colin Braun set the benchmark with a 1:17.603 (104.748 mph) effort in the CORE Autosport Ligier JS P320.

A second practice starts at 9 a.m. ET Saturday on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course. Motul Pole Award qualifying streams live on at 1:15 p.m. Saturday.

The race airs live on USA Network beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Koch Collects Second Straight Michelin Pilot Challenge Pole

Kenton Koch put the No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT4 on the overall and Grand Sport (GS) pole position for the second consecutive IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race with his effort Friday at Mid-Ohio.

Koch’s best lap of 1:27.126 backed up the pole position he claimed two weeks ago at WeatherTech Raceway. It elevated his career poles total to three in the series. The GS qualifying session was tight throughout, with the top four qualifiers within 0.063 seconds of each other. Alexandre Premat was second in the No 28 RS1 Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport at 1:27.182.

Tiago Monteiro, the former Formula One and IndyCar driver making his series debut, put the No. 37 LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic FK7 TCR on pole in the Touring Car (TCR) class with a lap of 1:28.829. It was 0.342 seconds better than 2020 TCR champion Gabby Chaves in the No. 33 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR.

Saturday’s Mid-Ohio 120 starts at 4:05 p.m. and streams live on Peacock.

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