For the last three years, the dominant story in sports car racing has been the build up to 2023. This is the season that LMDh debuts, a new rule set for top-class sports cars allowed to race in both IMSA and the World Endurance Championship against the existing LMH-spec cars. The direct result is the most competitive battles for the overall win in both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 24 Hours of Daytona in decades. It all starts at Daytona next weekend. That made this weekend's practice and qualifying sessions for the race, collectively known as the Roar before the 24, the dress rehearsal for the future of sports car racing. That also makes pole for the 24 hour classic the first prize available for LMDh manufacturers.
For Acura, it was a dream debut. Meyer Shank Racing's Tom Blomqvist put down a flying lap in the closing seconds of the qualifying session to take pole with a time of 1:34.031. That is not a track record, but it is well within the range of lap times the lighter previous-generation DPi cars were putting down in the end of their development cycles and it marks an encouraging sign that these more powerful GTP cars will eventually surpass their predecessors. Wayne Taylor Racing, the team fielding the other one-car factory ARX-06 effort for Acura, will start third.
Porsche's Penske-run factory program is also debuting this weekend, although it is hardly the first American sports car collaboration between the two powerhouses. They, unfortunately, hold the honor of the first wreck in an official session for the modern GTP class. Nick Tandy spun under hard braking entering the Le Mans chicane, spinning into the inside wall and destroying the car's bodywork. Felipe Nasr qualifies second in the sister No. 7 Porsche, while Tandy's No. 6 will start at the back of the field.
Cadillac's three V-LMDh entries, split between two Chip Ganassi Racing cars and a car run by Action Express Racing but all racing under the Cadillac Racing factory banner, start fourth through sixth. BMW's M Hybrid V8 will debut in seventh and eighth. All eight cars that completed a competitive lap finished within 8/10ths of Blomqvist's pole-setting lap.
The 24 Hours of Daytona will start next Saturday and run through Sunday. It is the single most anticipated IMSA race since the American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series merged years ago.
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