Qualifying for the Rolex 24 At Daytona went very well for Porsche Thursday afternoon, as the factory-entered 911 RSR of Nick Tandy, Fred Makowiecki, and Matt Campbell will start from pole in the GTLM class with the sister car of Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor, and Mathieu Jaminet starting in second place. Further proving Porsche's greatness, the Canadian plaid team of Pfaff Motorsports took pole position in the GTD category. The GTD category is a tough one with factory support from a bunch of different manufacturers, so drivers Zacharie Robichon, Lars Kern, Patrick Pilet, and Dennis Olsen will have their collective work cut out for them.
Nick Tandy and Laurens Vanthoor did qualifying work for the Porsche GTLM team, and they swapped places at the top of the time sheets a few times before settling into the spots they have. In the end, Tandy snatched pole position with a time of 1:42.207 minutes ahead of Vanthoor, thus beating his own GTLM-class qualifying record, which he set at Daytona in 2019. The pair of Porsches are just a few fractions of a second quicker than the new Chevrolet Corvette C8.Rs, so this should be a good fun battle across 24 hours.
Zach Robichon was at the wheel for GTD qualifying where he turned the fasted lap in his GT3 R with a time of 1:45.237 minutes. Not only did the Canadian achieve pole position for his Pfaff Motorsports team with this result, he also set the fastest time ever in a GTD-class qualifying at Daytona. The other Porsche team, Wright Motorsports qualified tenth in an 18 car GTD grid, while the Black Swan Racing Porsche suffered a heavy impact in a wet free practice and could not take part in the qualifying session, meaning that team will start from the back of the grid.
The 24-hour Daytona classic gets underway on Saturday, 25 January, at 1:35pm local time (7:35pm CET) and can be viewed live outside the USA and Canada on www.imsa.com.
Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “We couldn’t have asked for a better qualifying result. Both of our vehicles are on the front grid row of the GTLM class. At its North American premiere, the new Porsche 911 RSR has underlined the great performance potential that we’ve already seen in the FIA WEC. The teams and drivers made perfect use of this potential and performed flawlessly. In the GTD class, a customer team starts from pole position, as well. It was here at last year’s Daytona race that the new Porsche 911 GT3 R celebrated its premiere. We’re ready to tackle the 24-hour classic.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “What a dream start into the IMSA season with the new Porsche 911 RSR. Positions one and two – a perfect qualifying result for the team. Still, the points have to be won in the race and we still have to work hard towards this. We haven’t won the GTLM class since 2014. We want to change that on Sunday.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “The duel I had with Nick was close and tough. I don’t like to lose, but Nick was slightly better today. Still, there’s no reason to complain. Both 911 RSR on the front row and the car was incredible to drive.”
Zach Robichon (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “The car was really strong in qualifying. Despite not having a lot of grip in the free practice sessions, we didn’t change anything and simply trusted the setup we’d tested at the Roar. The plan worked. The car already felt great in the out lap, and I knew that it might work. I’m very proud, and I’m pleased for Porsche and the team to have claimed pole position here at Daytona. Although the race is long and a lot can happen, things look very good.”
1. Tandy/Makowiecki/Campbell (GB/F/AUS), Porsche 911 RSR, 1:42.207 minutes
2. Vanthoor/Bamber/Jaminet (B/NZ/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.049 seconds
3. Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (E/USA/NL), Corvette C8.R, + 0.338 seconds
4. Gavin/Milner/Fässler (GB/USA/CH), Corvette C8.R, + 0.594 seconds
5. De Phillippi/Eng/Spengler/Herta (USA/A/CDN/USA), BMW M8 GTE, + 0.734 seconds
1. Olsen/Robichon/Kern/Pilet (N/CDN/D/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 1:45.237 minutes
10. Hardwick/Long/Imperato/Bachler (USA/USA/USA/A) Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 1.248 seconds