Tudor USCC: 24 Hours of Daytona qualifying report
One of Porsche North America’s factory 911 RSRs will start this year’s 24 Hours of Daytona, the opening round of the new-for-2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship, from second on the grid.
British 911 ace, Nick Tandy set a lap of 1m44.582s (122.545mph) around the Daytona road course to place the #911 Porsche 911 RSR on the front row of the GTLM class grid, just 0.076s slower than the pole-winning Viper GTS-R of Marc Goosens.
The second 911 RSR, driven in qualifying by American, Patrick Long, finished the session just 0.240s slower than the Viper’s pole time however, the incredible close spread of GTLM times means that the #912 RSR will line up fifth.
With qualifying running for just 20 minutes, track time was at a premium for the GTLM teams. However, with the car required to start on the tyres they qualified with, most outfits were limited to around seven laps of the 3.56-mile, 12-turn circuit.
“We’ll start the race on the Michelin rubber that we used in qualifying, so we had to be careful not to overtax the tyres today,” explained lead 911 RSR driver, Tandy. “That wasn’t easy, because with the cool weather they took relatively long to reach the right temperature.”
Initially, it was the Corvette C7.R of Oliver Gavin who headed the timesheets but the Porsches weren’t far behind, with the RSRs lying in second and third. The two Viper GTS-Rs soon were challenging for the fastest time but the Porsches responded.
Both Long and Tandy produced faster laps, vaulting to the top of the timing screens, with the #912 machine of Long, Michael Christensen, and Jörg Bergmeister temporarily leading the way.
Goosens wasn’t finished in the Viper though as his lap of 1m44.506s was enough to take pole. It looked as if teammate Jonathan Bomarito had done enough to lock out the front row for the SRT squad but Tandy produced an excellent, last-gasp effort.
The Britons’ lapped Daytona just hundredths away from pole to ensure that Porsche North America’s full factory collaboration with CORE Autosport got off to a successful start.
The #912 Porsche 911 RSR of Long was eventually demoted to fifth, as Gavin’s Corvette enjoyed a resurgence at the end of the qualifying session, however the second 911s advantage over the sixth-placed Aston Martin was a healthy 0.693s.
Despite the Balance of Performance adjustments made by the championship organisers after the early-January Daytona tests, the 2014 Porsche 911 RSR appears to have the pace to challenge for victory come the chequered flag on Sunday.
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