By John Oreovicz
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Mazda stole the Saturday headlines from rival manufacturer and race host Acura at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as Harry Tincknell earned the Motul Pole Award for the Acura Sports Car Challenge Presented by the TLX Type S.
Acura Sports Car Challenge Presented by the TLX Type S: DPi Qualifying Results
Tincknell lapped the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course in 1 minute, 10.027 seconds (116.080 mph) in the No. 55 Mazda Motorsports Mazda DPi. That smashed the Mid-Ohio track record for the Daytona Prototype international class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship by almost 0.7 seconds. The previous record was also held by a Mazda DPi and set in May 2019 by Oliver Jarvis.
Filipe Albuquerque (No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05) qualified second with a lap timed at 1:10.122 (115.923 mph), with another Acura – the No. 60 out of the Meyer-Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian stable driven by Dane Cameron – third at 1:10.355 (115.539 mph).
The Saturday morning practice session gave an idea of how intense the action in qualifying would be, as Cameron’s fastest lap bested Pipo Derani (No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi) by nearly a quarter of a second.
But it was the lone Mazda entry that shot to the fore in qualifying, as Tincknell mastered the warming conditions to produce a blistering lap that earned his first IMSA pole position.
“Seventy seconds around Mid-Ohio is really pushing on quite a bit,” said Tincknell, who boasts four WeatherTech Championship race wins. “It was definitely a rollercoaster ride, but I’m really happy. We didn’t have the fastest car in the first couple races, but we’ve really come out of it well (finishing third at Daytona and second at Sebring). There’s a long race ahead of us, but we’re really happy to be starting up front.”
Tincknell and his Mazda teammate Jarvis were near the bottom of the DPi timing charts in practice, but they found speed when it counted.
The 29-year-old Englishman admitted that he never expected to lap under the track record by such a large margin. He set his time with more than five minutes remaining in the 15-minute qualifying session.
“I was surprised because we hadn’t shown anywhere nearly that pace so far during the weekend,” he said. “The sun has come out today, and I think that helped us a bit. That’s the best the car has felt around here by a long way and the new surface around Turn 2 perhaps provides a bit more grip.”
Robinson Breaks Through for First LMP3 Pole
In LMP3 practice, Dylan Murry (No. 91 Riley Motorsports) eked out a margin over second fastest Joao Barbosa (No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsports) of just 0.056 seconds. But neither entry figured in the battle for class pole position.
Acura Sports Car Challenge Presented by the TLX Type S: LMP3 Qualifying Results
Instead, Gar Robinson (No. 74 Riley Motorsports) and Jon Bennett (No. 54 CORE autosport) waged an intense battle, swapping the top spot half a dozen times before Robinson settled the matter with 1:17.246 (105.232 mph) lap.
Jarrett Andretti (No. 36 Andretti Autosport) inserted himself into the mix and briefly moved up to second place, but Bennett’s final effort of 1:17.632 (104.709 mph) was quicker than Andretti by a tenth.
It was Robinson’s first career LMP3 Motul Pole Award in WeatherTech Championship competition.
“I could hear from [team owner] Bill Riley that Jarrett and Jon were on flyers, so I knew I had to keep pushing, just trying to keep the gap behind me,” said Robinson, a second-generation sports car racer who hails from San Antonio, Texas and currently resides in Detroit. “We’ll try to keep that for tomorrow as well.
“This track has always been really good to me,” he added. “I had my first professional race win in Trans-Am here, and I’ve just kind of carried the attitude and momentum from back then.”
Robinson and the Riley team won the LMP3 class in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona International Speedway.
Sunday’s action at Mid-Ohio features live coverage from NBCSN starting at 2:30 ET.