Montoya delivers record lap en route to Detroit pole

May 31, 2019

Montoya delivers record lap en route to Detroit pole

May 31, 2019

Juan Pablo Montoya (DPi) and Zacharie Robichon (GT Daytona) scored the class pole position for Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic (12:30 p.m. EDT, NBCSN and IMSA Radio).

The race is the fifth of the year for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship overall and for DPi. It’s the fourth GTD race of the year and second under the WeatherTech Sprint Cup banner. The GTD competitors compete only for Sprint Cup points in the one-hour, 40-minute race.

Friday evening’s qualifying session took place under sunny skies with ambient temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit and track temperature of 85, per Michelin engineers.

DPi QUALIFYING

The Acura Team Penske vs. Cadillac battle continued in qualifying for DPi competitors. But ultimately Juan Pablo Montoya laid down a 1:19.373 lap that was nearly three seconds quicker than the previous qualifying mark in class.

“It was fun. It was a heck of a push,” Montoya told IMSA Radio’s Shea Adam after the session. “We came from a win (at Mid-Ohio) and pole is good for track position. Today was pretty amazing.

“The (Michelin) tires, you can see we keep pushing and we keep getting quicker.”

This marks the second street race for Michelin’s new-for-2019 IMSA Medium compound tires, after Long Beach. Coincidentally Team Penske also won pole there, with Helio Castroneves.

After 1:20 laps were set in the two practice sessions, the question was whether anyone could lap the 2.3-mile, 14-turn Raceway on Belle Isle Park in the 1:19 bracket. It happened late in the 15-minute session.

Pipo Derani in his No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R dropped into the 1:19s at 1:19.991, to continue his charge. But that time only stood for a fraction of a second as Castroneves went to a 1:19.866. Castroneves improved further to a 1:19.681.

Montoya laid down his flyer on his 10th lap in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05. and Castroneves was able to get within two tenths at 1:19.580.

Nine of the 11 class entries qualified under the previous qualifying record, all by at least 1.1 seconds. The previous qualifying record was 1:22.273, set last year by Derani in a Nissan DPi.

Montoya shares his car with Dane Cameron, after both won last race at Mid-Ohio. Castroneves shares his with Ricky Taylor.

GTD QUALIFYING

The GT Daytona class pole position changed hands after the checkered flag in qualifying.

While Turner Motorsport’s No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 set the fastest time in class ahead of Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, they were later sent to the rear of the field following post-qualifying technical inspection.

Per IMSA, after post-qualifying technical inspection, the No. 96 was moved to the rear of the GTD field due to a camber infraction. @ZRobichon now will start Saturday’s race from the GTD pole position.

Robby Foley had qualified the No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 he’ll share with Bill Auberlen. The young driver set a best time of 1:29.704.

Zacharie Robichon, substituting for Patrick Lindsey in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, slotted in a very close second at 1:29.735. He’ll share that car with Patrick Long.

But that car now moves up to the pole position.

Meyer Shank Racing originally placed its two Acura NSX GT3 Evos third and fourth with Christina Nielsen outqualifying Trent Hindman.

Nielsen and co-driver Katherine Legge were pacesetters in GTD during the two practice sessions in their No. 57 Heinricher Racing and Caterpillar Acura. Legge seeks both hers and Meyer Shank Acura’s third consecutive GTD win in Detroit after claiming wins in 2017 (with Andy Lally) and 2018 (with Mario Farnbacher).

AIM Vasser Sullivan followed next with its two Lexus RC F GT3s. The No. 14 of Richard Heistand was just ahead of the sister No. 12 qualified by Frankie Montecalvo. That completes the top five on the GTD grid.

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