Pipo Derani led GTP qualifying at Daytona, where all nine of the hybrid prototypes bettered the track record in the second WeatherTech Championship season for the hybrid prototypes.
On board the Cadillac V-Series.R of Action Express, Derani’s lap smashed the previous mark set by Oliver Jarvis in a DPi Mazda in 2019.
GTD PRO, GTD
It was a different story for the highly touted GTD Pro category.
In a qualifying session where it was difficult to determine who got the biggest sandbagging award, the qualifying debut of the new Corvette Z06 GT3.R and the Mustang GT3 in the WeatherTech Championship was ho-hum. Like most of the other factory teams, the Corvette and Mustang poked around to lap times comfortable enough to avoid any additional Balance of Performance hits prior to next weekend’s Rolex 24.
The Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) of AO Racing won the GTD Pro pole in the hands of Seb Priaulx. The AO team with its “T-Rex” paint scheme had the incentive of vying to get more factory assistance from Porsche.
Jack Hawksworth, driver of the Lexus RC F of Vasser Sullivan, was 0.080 seconds adrift, indicating an all-out assault for the pole and points by the team that considers its cars handicapped on the banking.
Vasser Sullivan’s Parker Thompson was third overall and first in the GTD category aboard his Lexus, earning the qualifying bonus.
“I think you’ll see our best (performance) in the race,” said Mustang driver Joey Hand in response to a question about sandbagging prior to qualifying. His two-car Ford Multimatic Mustang team had a best showing of 22nd among all GTD cars and 9th in class.
Pratt Miller’s factory-assisted Corvette team finished ninth among all GTD cars and third in the Pro class. That meant six of the GTD entrants, which have the same homologation as the Pro class but different driver rating rules, were ahead of the Corvette.
The factory teams in GTD Pro concentrated on practice and segment times to prepare for the 24-hour. The pole may offer additional points plus a week of publicity and prestige. But the BOP possibilities loomed large enough to discourage any heroics.
"Overall, I'm pretty happy with how the Corvette Z06 GT3.R has been in both days of practice so far,” said Tommy Milner, the lead development driver. “Every time I've been in, it has felt very good and I'm happy with the balance. Realistically at this point we're still trying some things to find some speed in a couple of the high-speed sections like the Bus Stop, so there is still work to do.”
In GTP, nine cars ran within a second of one another. With a record lap of 1:32.656, defending series co-champion Pipo Derani led a one-two qualifying by the two Cadillac V-Series.R teams. The Action Express driver edged Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais by 0.071 seconds.
The No. 7 Porsche 963 of Felipe Nasr was 0.049 seconds behind the second Cadillac in third, followed by the No. 25 BMW of Connor De Fillippi and the No. 40 Acura of Louis Deletraz. The customer Porsche 963 of Proton Competition missed the session due to the crash of Neel Jani in the prior test session.
In LMP2, where the bronze-rated drivers are required to qualify, Ben Keating won his fifth consecutive pole at Daytona, edging Nick Boulle of PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports. “I love this place,” said Keating, who will co-drive the United Autosports USA entry. “I love the tracks that love you back.”