Nissan’s Daytona Prototype international challenger was pedaled to its first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship pole position since Petit Le Mans last October when Colin Braun set out to qualify CORE autosport’s car at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Up against 10 other DPi racers and, less directly, his prototype lap record at CTMP, Braun turned nine laps in CORE’s No. 54 Ligier Nissan DPi but needed only four to execute the trip around the 10-turn venue that gave the team its first pole with the Ligier JS P217-based car.
With a 1:05.452, Braun cut the circuit record down by 0.863 seconds, going precisely two-tenths of a second quicker than the previous fastest lap of the weekend, set by Helio Castroneves in Practice 3 a few hours before qualifying.
Castroneves, piloting Team Penske’s No. 7 Acura ARX-05 around the high-commitment permanent road course, came within 0.074 seconds of Braun’s scorching pace in the red, white and blue Nissan DPi and ultimately settled for second on the grid for Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute contest.
The former full-time NTT IndyCar Series driver and annual Indianapolis 500 contender for Penske spun off course during a flying lap which potentially would’ve knocked Braun from the top spot. Still, Jonathan Bomarito couldn’t match Castroneves nor Braun as he qualified 0.328 seconds off the pole pace in the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P.
The second cars from the Acura-Team Penske and Mazda-Team Joest combinations completed the top five with Juan Pablo Montoya and Tristan Nunez to start fourth and fifth in the No. 6 Acura DPi and No. 77 Mazda DPi.
After relative manufacturer parity in practice, one must glance at the bottom half of the DPi running order to find representatives of Cadillac, the category’s fourth brand. Beginning with Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R and ending with Will Owen in Juncos Racing’s entry, the lone American DPi manufacturer saw its six cars qualify in positions six through 11.
Masson Delivers LMP2 Pole to Performance Tech
An advantage over its only LMP2 competition in pre-qualifying practice was displayed again by Performance Tech Motorsports when the class’ two-car grid was decided Saturday afternoon.
Kyle Masson turned in a 1:08.211 to put half a second between Performance Tech’s ORECA 07 and the identical model fielded by PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports and qualified by Dalton Kellett.
A 20-minute warm-up outing is scheduled for Sunday morning and is the only other on-track activity for the WeatherTech Championship before 33 cars across four classes take the green flag for the race itself. After NBC’s live telecast opens at 1 p.m. EDT, the race will begin at 1:05 p.m.