Robert Alon knows what it feels like to win a Motul Pole Award in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, as he had won four poles in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class.
But the feeling was a little different on Saturday afternoon at Road America, where Alon shattered Ricky Taylor’s year-old track record to take the Motul Pole Award for Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute Continental Tire Road Race Showcase. Alon’s best lap was 1m:51.933s (130.191 mph) in the #85 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA 07 LMP2, which was more than a second quicker than Taylor’s 2017 record pole-winning time of 1m:53.058s.
It was the third consecutive Prototype pole position for an ORECA LMP2 car, as Colin Braun drove the similar #54 CORE autosport ORECA to Motul Pole Awards for last month’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
“I have to give it to the engineer,” Alon said. “He called it. We knew tire ‘deg’ (degradation) was going to be pretty bad, so we kind of set up the car for the first couple of laps. We knew those were going to be the best tires, grip-wise. He told me to go out and do my thing for the first two laps, and it seemed like the car just did the work. It was a great setup.
“I just let the car do the work, and it was just all there. It really helps confidence a lot. We started out the year really struggling. It’s tough to keep pushing and pushing when you don’t see the results. We were starting to build moment, and we’re starting to show our speed now. It’s an excellent confidence booster.”
A year after taking the pole, Taylor settled for second on the Road America grid with a best lap of 1:52.140 (129.951 mph) in the #7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) car. Taylor and co-driver Helio Castroneves look for their second victory of the season on Sunday.
The same applies to Braun, who qualified third in the #54 at 1m:52.340s (129.720 mph), and his co-driver, Jon Bennett. Braun and Bennett were the most recent Prototype class winners, triumphing last month at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Renger van der Zande put the #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R he shares with Jordan Taylor fourth on the Prototype grid at 1m:52.430s (129.616 mph). Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top five at 1m:52.780s (129.214 mph) in the #6 Acura DPi. Montoya’s co-driver is Dane Cameron, who has won in three of his past four WeatherTech Championship races at Road America.