Mazda Prototype Leads Qualifying For Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix, Nunez Claims TOTAL Pole Award At Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Saturday, July 9, 2016

Mazda Prototypes continue to show plenty of speed in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition. On Saturday, Tristan Nunez claimed his second TOTAL Pole Award of the campaign, leading qualifying for Sunday’s Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (live, FS1, 11 a.m. ET).

Nunez turned a lap of 1:10.126 (126.2 mph) on the 2.459-mile, 10-turn circuit in the No. 55 Mazda Prototype. After running diesel-powered Prototypes for the past two seasons, the team switched to gasoline power for 2016. Nunez captured the first pole for the car at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and joined co-driver Jonathan Bomarito in finishing third at Detroit, the best finish for the Mazda Prototype.

“Qualifying is good and all, but we have one focus and that’s to win the race tomorrow,” Nunez said. “Everyone’s prepared for that. The drivers, crew, everyone has been working their tails off at the shop. They’ve been practicing pit stops. And the drivers have been working to be physically fit because this track is very challenging. Now we’re going to go out and see how it turns out tomorrow.”

Ricky Taylor will join Nunez on the front row, running a best lap of 1:10.435 (125.6 mph) in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette Daytona Prototype co-driven by his brother Jordan. The pair are the defending winners of the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix, and enter the race tied for second in the WeatherTech Championship season-long Prototype standings.

The second row also features a Mazda-Chevrolet pairing. Tom Long was third fastest with a lap of 1:10.572 (125.4 mph) in the No. 70 Mazda Prototype co-driven by Joel Miller. He edged out Christian Fittipaldi, who ran 1:10.761 (125.1 mph) in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Mustang Corvette DP co-driven by Joao Barbosa.

Braun Takes Second PC TOTAL Award Of 2016 For CORE autosport

Colin Braun captured his second TOTAL Pole Award of 2016 in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class, running a PC track-record lap of 1:11.946 (123.0 mph) in the No. 54 CORE autosport Flex-Box/Composite Resources/Crowdstrike ORECA FLM09 co-driven by Jon Bennett. It was his fifth WeatherTech Championship pole, and first since Sebring earlier this season.

“We wanted to mix it up and try something different,” Braun said. “This is the first time we’ve had this many classes here since the old ALMS days. We tried to maximize our track time to work on the car. We don’t know what to expect in the race – how many cautions, how it’s going to flow. We’ve certainly have not had a lucky season, so we’re trying something different.”

After winning five consecutive PC team titles in combined WeatherTech Championship and ALMS competition, CORE autosport is fourth in the team standings – 23 points behind the lead.

James French also eclipsed his year-old track record but had to settle for second after running a lap of 1:12.372 (112.3 mph) in the Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA. French and co-driver Kyle Marcelli are coming off their best finish of the season, placing second in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen last weekend.

Stephen Simpson – PC winner at Daytona and Long Beach this season – qualified third in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports entry with a lap of 1:12.448 (122.1 mph). He will be joined on the second row by Matt McMurry, who ran 1:12.471 (122.1 mph) in the No. 20 BAR 1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09.

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  • While he will be starting second, Ricky Taylor is pleased to be starting ahead of the drivers he is battling for the Prototype championship. The brothers are currently tied for second in the standings, joining Eric Curran and Dane Cameron in trailing Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa by seven points, 187-180. Curran will start fifth in Sunday’s race, driving the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP.

“It’s nice to have another good qualifying session – the first of the DPs again, the people who we’re fighting with for the championship,” said Taylor, who also finished on the podium here co-driving with his brother in the team’s inaugural visit in 2014. “It’s going to be a tough race tomorrow with the GT cars out there. But the positive is that we’ve made improvements with the car every session. I think we can make more improvements before the race and keep our nose clean and look after the championship.”

  • The pole was Braun’s 14th in major North American sports car competition. He also held the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park PC record from ALMS competition of 1:10.698 (125.214 mph), set in 2012.
  • Alex Popow qualified sixth in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport ORECA. Popow and Renger van der Zande are seeking their third consecutive triumph in PC competition, winning at Detroit and Watkins Glen. They also enter Sunday’s race with a 12-point lead atop the PC point standings over the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports entry of Robert Alon and Tom Kimber-Smith, 198-196, who will start fifth.
  • Ozz Negri ran the fastest lap in Saturday morning’s final practice session, 1:10.522 in Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s No. 60 Honda Ligier JS P2. Co-driver John Pew spun in fluid and had contact with the wall near the start/finish line in the closing minutes of the one-hour session, resulting in minor damage. Pew went on to qualify seventh.

Sunday’s activities begin at 8 a.m. ET with a 20-minute warm-up session. The Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix begins shortly after 11 a.m. ET with live television coverage in the U.S. carried on FS1.