MICHELIN Pilot Challenge features record qualifying laps

January 24, 2019

MICHELIN Pilot Challenge features record qualifying laps

January 24, 2019

The first race of the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge series will take the green flag with Paul Holton on the pole position in the No. 75 Compass Racing McLaren GT4 at Daytona International Speedway. 

On Holton’s second qualifying lap, he shattered the previous Grand Sport (GS) class track record by nearly three seconds. Corey Fergus, also in a McLaren GT4 entered by MIA Racing, qualified second. This is Holton’s eighth career pole in IMSA competition. Here are the full qualifying results.

The four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona, featuring a starting field of 49 cars in two classes, takes the green flag Friday at 12:15 pm Eastern Time. It can be seen live at IMSA.tv and heard online at IMSARadio.com.

“For us, it’s been amazing,” said Holton, when asked about the impact of the Michelin tires this weekend. 

“It got rid of a stability control problem we had. The previous tires didn’t have enough support on them and it caused us electronic issues. But now that we’ve got that front support, the car works a little bit more like a race car. All of the electronics have benefitted massively from that… I’m happy to start on the pole, and hopefully we’ll stay there tomorrow.”

With Michelin Pilot racing tires on all entries, 21 of the 35 cars in the GS class bettered the previous record lap time. 

No. 54 JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS TCR. Photo: Michelin North America

In the TCR class, the record fell quickly as Michael Johnson turned in the pole-winning run in the No. 54 JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS TCR, breaking the existing record by more than two seconds. Lee Carpentier qualified his No. 10 eEuroparts Audi second. 

“The lap was really good,” said Johnson, who is paralyzed below the chest and uses hand controls to drive the car. 

“I didn’t expect to be that quick, especially with how we were doing with practice earlier. The car is running great. I was just putting the pieces together and I was able to click off two quick lap times in the [1 minute] 58 seconds back-to-back, so that’s really impressive for myself to know that I can do that and I just need to put it together tomorrow.”  

Just as in the GS class, more than half of the field was quicker than the previous record, as the top-nine cars bested the record. 

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