Team Penske’s Acura ARX-05 cars took a step forward when qualifying day began at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca as Ricky Taylor and Juan Pablo Montoya went more than half a second faster than their closest competition in Saturday morning’s practice.
Renger van der Zande and Oliver Jarvis joined those Penske pilots in lapping under the official prototype lap record set during qualifying a year ago, but their Cadillac DPi-V.R and Mazda RT24-P cars were 0.538 and 0.591 seconds off the quickest single-lap pace Taylor laid down in the No. 7 Acura DPi.
On the eighth of 29 laps during the hourlong outing for the car he co-drives with Helio Castroneves, Taylor turned in a 1:15.497 lap of the 2.238-mile road course. At 1:16.181, the time that earned Ricky’s brother Jordan the Laguna Seca pole a year ago was nearly seven-tenths of a second slower, owing to the separation of the DPi class from LMP2 and the new-for-2019 tires from Michelin.
Filipe Albuquerque ensured Action Express Racing was represented with one of its Cadillac DPis in the top five, coming as close as 0.697 seconds to Taylor’s top time.
Felipe Nasr was within 0.078 seconds of Montoya’s chart-topping Practice 2 lap to end Friday’s running but ended up ninth out of 10 on the DPi running order Saturday morning. Only Simon Trummer and JDC-Miller Motorsports’ No. 84 Cadillac were slower than Nasr and the championship-contending No. 31 Action Express entry.
Fourth DPi manufacturer Nissan, represented by CORE autosport, improved by 0.293 seconds between Friday’s two sessions and erased another 0.469 seconds from its best time in Practice 3 but still remained outside the top five in eighth. Colin Braun was eighth and seventh on Friday.
More than eight-tenths of a second was the difference between the two LMP2 cars in the field while all eight GT Le Mans entries except one lapped within 0.805 seconds. Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 67 Ford GT returned to the top of the running order due to Richard Westbrook’s best lap of 1:22.034 — a massive 0.666 seconds under the standing GTLM circuit record.
Robby Foley put Turner Motorsport atop the GT Daytona field as he made the team’s BMW M6 GT3 the first car to beat Paul Miller Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 to the top of the timesheet during the weekend. Corey Lewis was the second-fastest GTD driver, keeping the Paul Miller car near the front of the all-GT3 field.
Andy Lally, Trent Hindman and Ben Keating completed the top five for Magnus Racing, Meyer Shank Racing and Riley Motorsports. This group was covered by 0.547 seconds, making GTD the most competitive of the four divisions entering qualifying.
GTD will be up first when qualifying begins at 12:40 p.m. PDT to set the grid for Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute Monterey SportsCar Championship race. GTLM and a combined DPi/LMP2 session will follow at 1:05 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. track local time.