Vautier Puts Cadillac on Pole for Qualifying Race

Image from IMSA website

Race: 100 minutes. Green flag 2:05 pm EST Peacock

Acuras dominated the practices, but a Cadillac took the pole for today’s qualifying race. The 100 minute event will set the grid for next Saturday’s 60th Rolex 24 Hour race at Daytona international Speedway.

Tristan Vautier set the fastest lap in the JDC-Miller number 5 Mustang Sampling car. The number 10 Acura from Wayne Taylor Racing will start second. Felipe Albuquerque was just 0.122 seconds behind Vautier. The 01 Ganassi Cadillac driven by Renger van der Zande looked on track to take the pole, but crashed in turn five near the end of the session. The red flag cost him his best lap. The car will start 10th.

Ben Keating will start from pole in LMP2. Keating will drive the number 52 and the number 5 DPi in the race, so his rides have the pole in two classes. I don’t know when Keating sleeps during this race.

Cameron Shields is on pole in LMP3 in car 26.

In GTD Pro, Alex Imperiatori leads an all Porsche front row to the green, while Kenny Habul took pole for GTD in a Mercedes. Habul was third fastest in the GTD classes. Tghe slight difference in speed between the GTD Pro and GTD cars should make for some interesting racing.

Gidley Returns

Yesterday’s Prototype Challenge race marked the return to competition of Memo Gidley, who was injured in a horrific accident at Daytona in 2014. His car rammed a stalled car, then he was hit from behind. I didn’t think he would ever race again.

Memo Gidley

Not only did Gidley return to racing, but he won the pole. His car led the majority of the race, with rookie Alexander Korbei driving the final two hours. The team finished third.

This has been an inspirational weekend with Gidley and Robert Wickens returning to action.

Rolex 24 is America’s True All Star Race

The Rolex 24 at Daytona kicks off the major league racing season in the United States. Stars from Indycar and NASCAR join the stars of the sports car world to make it the one true All Star race in North America. The entry list features drivers with a combined 12 Indycar titles, and seven Indianapolis 500 wins; drivers with a combined eight NASCAR Series titles, and of course several IMSA champions. When the regulations change to allow the LMDh car in a couple years, the stars from the European endurance circuit may also participate.

49 cars are slated to start the race. A 50th entry, Black Swan Racing withdrew due to COVID-19 issues. For 2021, a new class LMP 3 has been added. This is mainly an amateur class of prototypes. The GTLM class, which has been a fun group to watch, is fading from the series. Corvette is the only full time team. The six entries this weekend is likely the largest field this class will see this season. I’m sad toi see this clas disappear.

GTLM consisted of technology driven sports cars that looked like cars someone could buy if money were no object. Fans could identify with them. There will be a larger group of GTD cars next year, based on the European GT3 model.

New Teams; Same Drivers

Team Penske Acura is no more. Instead, the Acuras are split into teams, Meyer Shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing. Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya, who drove for Penske, have stuck with Acura, although as endurance drivers only. Castroneves will drive for Taylor and Montoya for Shank.

Chip Ganassi Racing has assumed the Cadillac entry that Wayne Taylor Racing had last year. he has brought Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson from his Indycar team to serve as the endurance only drivers.

A Revised Schedule

The race gets under way at 3:40 pm Saturday, the second new start time in as many years. Sunset is around 6 pm Saturday, so there will be just about two and a half hours of daylight before the 13 hours of night racing begins. NBC will cover the entire race across its various platforms.

The weather forecast is great for the race. Mild temperatures with a low of 53 degree Saturday night. By Rolex standards, that is balmy. Highs are 67 degrees Saturday and 75 degrees Sunday. The race has moved back one week this year, which may be a factor in the improved forecast.

Indycar Drivers

Indycar drivers are in every category except GTLM. Here is a list by category and car number.

LMP1

01 Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson

5 Sebastien Bourdais

10 Alexander Rossi, Helio Castroneves

48 Simon Pagenaud, Jimmie Johnson

60 Juan Pablo Montoya

LMP2

81 Rinus VeeKay, Ben Hanley

LMP3

74 Oliver Askew, Spencer Pigot

GTD

12 Zach Veach

42 J. R. Hildebrand

96 Colton Herta ? (Herta was on the original entry list, but was not on yesterday’s final entry list; he is still on the spotter’s guide)

Entry List

Find the entry list at the following link:

https://www.motorsport.com/imsa/news/rolex-24-hours-entry-list/4995537/