Mazda Team Joest’s No. 77 RT24-P will start the Rolex 24 At Daytona from pole, after Oliver Jarvis set a blistering 1m33.711s lap in qualifying.
It wasn’t quite enough for the record — the Briton just a tenth short of his time from last year — but it was nevertheless a stunning time.
“What a car they gave me,” said Jarvis, after scoring his fourth IMSA pole. “This year feels different, it feels business-like — last year there was so much emotion. This feels like a job, and we’ve done it. The track all day hasn’t been perfect. We have new Michelins that are quicker, so the lap record was definitely under threat, but it doesn’t matter — I still have the record.
“We’re really optimistic ahead of the race.”
It was almost half a second quicker than the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 which will start alongside the No. 77 on the front row after Juan Pablo Montoya’s 1m34.154s.
The big story of the session though, concerned the sister Acura, the No. 7 of Ricky Taylor, which brought the session to a premature end after an off at the Bus Stop. The American lost control of the car and went nose-first into the barriers on driver’s left. The Penske mechanics now have a lot of work to do ahead of night practice to get the car ready.
The No. 55 Mazda will start third ahead of the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac. The defending champions in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac will start from fifth, on the strength of Ryan Briscoe’s 1m34.442s — 0.731 off pole.
In LMP2, Ben Keating starred. The American — who is racing in two cars in two classes this weekend — set a 1m37.446s in the No. 52 PR1 ORECA, 0.282s quicker than Henrik Hedman who put DragonSpeed’s ORECA second. The No. 8 Starworks 07 Gibson will start third.
Before the prototypes headed out to the circuit to qualify, the GTLM qualifying lap record fell, Nick Tandy putting the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR 19 on pole with a 1m42.207s, breaking his own record from last year by half a tenth.
“It was the limit — we didn’t time it quite right this year but I did pick up a draft from a Ferrari which helped. It all starts off well with our new car, with a 1-2,” Tandy said.
Behind the No. 912 sister Porsche made it a 1-2 for the German marque, continuing its dominance today at the top of the times.
The two Corvette C8.Rs took both spots on the second row, with the No. 3 ahead of the No. 4. Antonio Garcia pushed the No. 3 to the limit in an attempt to spoil Porsche’s party with its new 911 RSR, but despite an improvement at the end of the session on his final flyer, a 1m42.545s wasn’t enough.
The two RLL BMWs will start fifth and sixth, with the Risi Ferrari completing the class in seventh.
Zach Robichon broke the GTD lap record with a 1m45.237s to take the class pole in the No. 9 Pfaff Porsche.
“We’ve made a lot of improvements — if there’s one race where pole doesn’t matter as much it’s this one but we’ll take it!” Robichon said after the session.
He took the top spot by almost half a second in the GTD session. The No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 will start from second, ahead of the No. 57 Heinricher Racing Acura.
The No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW, which was quickest in the category in Practice 2, took fourth with a 1m45.872s from Rob Foley, almost two tenths quicker than Stejin Schothorst in the No. 11 Grasser Lamborghini who made it five brands in the top five.
The top seven in the class were all from different makes, though, as the No. 88 WRT Audi will start from sixth, with the No. 12 AVS Lexus seventh.
Only 15 of the 18 GTD cars took part in the session. The No. 14 Lexus didn’t make it out due to an engine change, and neither did the Black Swan Porsche which is still being repaired after its Practice 1 shunt. The No. 44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini was the third of the no-shows.
UP NEXT: Night practice at 7:15 p.m. ET