2016 24 Hours of Daytona pole for Tandy and Porsche
When behind the wheel of a Porsche racing car, is there anything that can stop Nick Tandy? The British factory driver took GTLM pole position for the 54th 24 Hours of Daytona – the 2016 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener – with a blistering lap aboard the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR.
In torrential rain, a red flag after five minutes, gave most GTLM competitors just a few flying laps with which to set their grid and it was Tandy who acclimatised to the difficult conditions best, lapping Daytona International Speedway’s road course in 2m01.408s.
The British ace’s time as nearly a full second faster than the next best GTLM car, which turned out to be Porsche North America Racing teammate, Frédéric Makowiecki who took the helm of the no. 912 RSR for qualifying.
As it turned out, with conditions getting progressively worse later on for the Prototype class sessions, combined with the GTLM field’s superior Michelin wet tyres, the two factory Porsche 911 RSRs actually set the fastest overall time during qualifying, with GTLM cars also filling out positions three through to seven.
However, thanks to the IMSA rulebook’s allowance for wet qualifying sessions, the Protoype and Prototype Challenge class cars will start ahead of the GT field for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, due to take place with more favourable weather.
This means the no. 911 RSR of Tandy, Patrick Pilet (the 2015 USCC champion) and new third driver, Kévin Estre is set to take the green flag from 22nd while the no. 912 car of Makowiecki, Earl Bamber and Michael Christensen will line up on place further back in the 54-car field.
In the GTD class (the first class to head out for qualifying on Thursday), there was more for Weissach to cheer about as the new Porsche 991 GT3 R – making its international competition debut at Daytona – headed its respective field thanks to the no. 73 Park Place Motorsports entry.
Former Porsche Supercup runner-up, Norbert Siedler took the helm to gain more track time in the team’s 911 GT3 R and promptly took pole position in the car he will share with Matt McMurry, Patrick Lindsey and factory driver, Jörg Bergmeister.
Leh Keen wound up third in GTD thanks to his lap of 2m06.556s in the no. 22 Alex Job Racing 911 GT3 R while the Frikadelli Racing entry (normally seen in the VLN) qualified fifth in the hands of Porsche Junior, Sven Müller.
The 2016 24 Hours of Daytona gets underway at 2:40pm ET (7:40pm GMT) on Saturday. You can follow all the action on IMSA’s website and look out for the race report in our dedicated motorsport section.