Qualifying at the Roar Before the Rolex 24, as a new addition to the final day of the mandatory test, saw Felipe Nasr lay down a record-breaking lap of the Daytona International Speedway road course.
The all-new qualifying sessions for each of the three IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes at the Roar were put in place in an attempt to eliminate teams and manufacturers from sandbagging for the sake of Balance of Performance. The incentive on the line is the most favorable garage and pit locations being issued to the fastest cars.
Nasr, set to join Eric Curran as a full-time driver in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R this year, lapped the 3.56-mile circuit at 1:35.806, quicker than the established track record.
Filipe Albuquerque is the current record holder after he turned a 1:36.269 in Action Express’ other Cadillac during last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. Nasr’s lap was 0.463 seconds faster.
Fellow Cadillac driver Tristan Vautier as well as Albuquerque himself also went quicker than last year’s track record, with Vautier nearly having the final say in the 15-minute session with a 1:36.037.
— Spirit of Daytona Racing (@SpiritDaytona90) January 7, 2018
New Wayne Taylor Racing driver Renger van der Zande qualified the fourth Cadillac in the field to the fourth position at more than six-tenths off Nasr’s pace, completing the top-four sweep for General Motors.
Notably, the top eight cars in Prototype qualifying were Daytona Prototype international-compliant machines. Both of Team Penske’s Acura ARX-05 cars as well as the No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi and No. 55 Mazda RT-24P filled the fifth through eighth positions. Only the other Tequila Patron ESM and Mazda Team Joest DPi cars were detached from the lead group.
Meanwhile, the fastest LPM2 car in field belonged to Jackie Chan DC Racing and driver Alex Brundle who laid down the ninth-fastest lap in the Daytona-only No. 78 ORECA 07. Fernando Alonso managed a 1:37.515 lap in United Autosports’ No. 23 Ligier JS P217 to qualify the car 12th.
All-American Top Three in GTLM
Both Ford GTs and a single Corvette C7.R occupied the top three positions as the checkered flag flew to bring an end to GT Le Mans qualifying.
Joey Hand’s 1:43.610 lap in the No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing-entered Ford was a mere 0.030 seconds better than Oliver Gavin’s best time in the No. 4 Corvette. Ryan Briscoe was a further 0.074 seconds back in the second Ford GT, with the No. 912 Porsche GT Team and No. 3 Corvette entries completed the top five.
The top six in GTLM, rounded out by Alessandro Pier Guidi in the No. 62 Risi Competitizione Ferrari 488 GTE, all were covered by less than half a second.
Of note, Porsche’s No. 911 entry missed qualifying.
— Porsche GT Team IMSA (@PorscheNAracing) January 7, 2018
Bortolotti Tops GTD for GRT
After trading the fastest laps in the highly competitive GT Daytona division with several teams during the opening two and a half days of the Roar, the Grasser Racing Team returned to the top of the timesheet in qualifying.
Mirko Bortolotti completed a lap of the Daytona circuit at 1:47.374 in GRT’s No. 11 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 to keep Andy Lally in Magnus Racing’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 at bay by just 0.062 seconds.
Patrick Long qualified third in the Porsche 911 GT3 R of Wright Motorsports while Alvaro Parente made it four different manufacturers in the top four with the fourth-fastest lap in Michael Shank Racing’s No. 86 Acura NSX GT3.
Paul Miller Racing and Manthey Racing failed to turn laps in qualifying with their Lamborghini and Porsche cars.
The trio of WeatherTech Championship classes will hit the track once more to conclude the Roar with an hour-long Session 7 beginning at 2:45 p.m. EST on Sunday.