IMSA will look to add some spice to its January 22-24 Roar Before The 24 test with the addition of a qualifying race to close the event on Sunday. The results of the 100-minute contest will set the grid for the following weekend’s Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The move comes in an effort to bring new value to the mandatory event by featuring a two-driver, single pit stop race where, for the first time, the finishing order in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s DPi, LMP2, LMP3, GT Le Mans, and GT Daytona classes will determine the starting order for the Jan. 30-31 race. Broadcasting details for the qualifying race and specific regulations for its competitors will be announced at a later date.
“The Rolex 24 At Daytona is a special event that is worthy of a unique qualifying format,” said IMSA president John Doonan. “Not unlike the Daytona 500, which has set its field through the Duel At Daytona qualifying races for decades, or the Indianapolis 500 and its distinctive qualifying procedures, introducing the Motul Pole Award 100 qualifying race for the Rolex 24 brings a new and exciting dynamic to the Roar.”
The Roar race will introduce IMSA’s new policy of attaching championship points to qualifying results.
“WeatherTech Championship points will be awarded for all finishing positions in the Motul Pole Award 100 under the new-for-2021 qualifying points system announced in September that awards 35 points to a pole-winner, 32 points for second-place qualifier, 30 for third, etc.,” the series confirmed.
“Although only two drivers per car will participate in the Motul Pole Award 100, points will be awarded for all entered drivers in each car for the Rolex 24. Any driver entered in multiple cars will be required to designate the car in which they will earn points prior to the qualifying race.”
And for the sake of honoring history, a traditional qualifying session will take place on Jan. 23, which will be used to create the Jan. 24 qualifying race grid based on fastest lap speeds. Those speeds will be entered into IMSA’s official records, giving teams an opportunity to set new qualifying standards to set at future visits to the 3.56-mile facility. A 20-minute warmup will be held ahead of the 100-minute race.
IMSA also outlined its scheduling plans for the remainder of the Roar, and the Rolex 24.
“Both practice sessions on Friday, Jan. 22 and both practice sessions on Saturday, Jan. 23 – including a two-hour night practice session – will be open to all drivers entered in the Rolex 24 At Daytona,” it wrote.
“There will be four additional practice sessions for all Rolex 24 drivers on Thursday, Jan. 28 and Friday, Jan. 29 prior to the 59th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, which will start at 3:40 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 30.”