Rolex 24 at Daytona qualifying came early Sunday, in the form of a special session to determine pit and garage stall selections for the Jan. 27-28 endurance road racing classic at Daytona International Speedway.
Sunday’s action wrapped up three days of preparation for the 56th running of the Rolex 24, the season-opening race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Cars in the series’ three classes – Prototype, GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) – qualified separately (15 minutes each), bringing a new component to the traditional Roar Before the Rolex 24 schedule and resulting in a spirited session involving 50 cars.
Qualifying first overall and in the series’ headlining Prototype class was Felipe Nasr, in the No. 31 Cadillac DPi of Action Express Racing. Nasr’s fast lap of 1 minute, 35.806 seconds (133.764 mph) on the 3.56-mile road course came on his last lap.
“Today in qualifying, myself and Felipe Albuquerque who was driving our [Action Express] sister car, we gave everything we had,” Nasr said. “I pushed 100 percent. There was no hiding.”
“It’s definitely an interesting situation to be doing a press conference about qualifying at the Roar,” said Joey Hand after qualifying first (1:43.610/123.688) in GTLM, driving the No. 66 Ford GT fielded by renowned car owner Chip Ganassi. “You’re always trying to win practice and especially trying to win qualifying. So yeah, we went for it.”
“We got a good spot for the race; now let’s see what kind of benefit we will get out of it,” said the top (1:47.374/119.352) GTD qualifier, Italian Mirko Bortolotti, co-driver of the No. 11 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of GRT Grasser Racing. “This was a session you could use [to prepare for the race].”
In addition to Rolex 24-related activity, teams from the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge completed three days of practice in three production-based classes – Grand Sport, Street Tuner and Touring Car – for the BMW Endurance Challenge, a four-hour event set for Jan. 26.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.