Two up and coming drivers have the pole position for their respective classes in Saturday’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race as the feature event at the Continental Tire Sportscar Festival Powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Makes one think of the old adage, Youth and Good Looks trump Age and Treachery – at least in this instance.
RICKY TAYLOR, 21, took his fourth consecutive pole this season Friday afternoon, with a lap of 1:20.429/100.173 mph in No.10 Sun Trust Racing Chevrolet Dallara. The four+ tenths of a second margin between Taylor and second-fastest driver, JON FOGARTY/No.99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley was the biggest margin of Taylor’s four poles.
Fogarty lamented the margin, saying it was “four tenths of an eternity.” However, Fogarty still holds the record of seven consecutive pole positions set in 2007. He co-drives with ALEX GURNEY. They won the Rolex race in 2009, the last time Grand-Am raced on the 2.238-mile elevated road circuit.
The DP qualifying lap record at Laguna Seca was set in 2008 by DAVID DONOHUE – 1:19.843/100.908 mph.
Taylor credited his success to “mainly the chassis that has made the difference this year. We’ve gone in a completely different direction with a little bit of a change in the engineering staff, and that has led to some new ideas and just a different way of looking at things – not necessarily better, but just new ideas and applying things differently. It’s been a big help, having fresh, new ideas. I’m loving it.
Young Taylor, who races for his father, WAYNE TAYLOR, will start the race, and co-driver MAX ANGELELLI will finish. Grand-Am rules require the qualifying driver to start the race, and also that there be a pit stop in the first 45 minutes.
Ricky Taylor is second in DP laps led-176, behind teammate Angelelli. and the Sun Trust team is first in the DP Teams laps led.
Ricky Taylor doesn’t have to worry about being ‘carded’ as he doesn’t drink. And he’s too young to rent a car.
The top five qualifiers came from five different teams: Sun Trust Racing, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and third-fastest, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates No.01 BMW Riley with points leading drivers SCOTT PRUETT and MEMO ROJAS.
Fourth and fifth were Doran Racing No.77 Ford Dallara/BRIAN FRISSELLE and HENRI RICHARD; and Brumos Racing No.5 Porsche Riley/Donohue and DARREN LAW.
No Rolex Series driver has ever won more than once at Laguna Seca.
A very youthful looking ANDREW DAVIS, 33, has the GT pole turning a 1:29.679/89.84 mph, not a record. This is his second GT pole, Davis has been running Grand-Am for the past ten years. He co- drives with LEH KEEN in the No.59 Brumos Racing Porsche GT3. Davis qualified twelfth overall, in a field of 27. Brumos Racing is second in the GT Teams standings.
Davis said “after three years of being very, very close to winning a pole, it’s great to win one. I’ve missed the pole a few times by as much as I got it by today (.14 seconds,) so I’m glad one fell our way.”
Second fastest in GT was WAYNE NONNAMAKER/No.42 Team Sahlen Mazda RX-8. Nonnamaker had the pole in the Road America race recently, and finished second. He hopes to reverse that this weekend by winning.
Third through fifth in GT were RONNIE BREMER/No.57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R with ROBIN LIDDELL and JAN MAGNUSSEN; BORIS SAID/No.31 Marsh Racing Corvette with ERIC CURRAN; and SYLVAIN TREMBLAY/No.70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 with JONATHAN BOMARITO.
The GT qualifying lap record of 1:27.014/92.592 mph is held by NICK HAM set in 2008.
Ricky Taylor’s younger brother, JORDAN TAYLOR, is 19 and races with BILL LESTER in No.88 Autohaus Motorsports Camaro GT R. They are leading the Rolex GT Teams standings, and will start ninth in class, twentieth overall.
Eight of the 11 Daytona Prototypes have Riley Chassis. There are two Dallaras and one Coyote.
Engine manufacturers include four Fords, three each for Chevrolet and Porsche, and one BMW.
The GT field includes seven Mazdas, four Porsches, two Camaros, and one each BMW and Corvette.
All 27 Rolex Series cars qualified, and will take the green flag Saturday at 2:30 pm local time/5:30 pm ET, and shown live on SPEED. The race is a ‘sprint’ race, lasting two hours, forty-five minutes.