Nick Tandy put the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR on the front row for Saturday's Rolex 24
Porsche 911 RSR, 911 GT America Within Fractions of a Second of Class Poles for Rolex 24 at Daytona
Daytona Beach. For the first official qualifying session of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the Porsche North America 911 RSR, Nick Tandy (Great Britain) has put the No. 911 on the front row in the GT Le Mans class for Saturday's Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Tandy, who turned his fastest time on his last qualifying lap today for round one of the TUDOR Championship, was only .076 of a second off the pole position in the 2014 Porsche 911 RSR which he will share in Saturday's race with Richard Lietz (Austria) and Patrick Pilet (France). Patrick Long (Playa del Rey, Calif.), who qualified the No. 912 team car, also placed in the top five, putting his Porsche in fifth position, only .240 of a second off the pole.
Both drivers realize that the world-class competition will make the race a tough one, but the progress that the Porsche North America team has made with its CORE autosport preparation partners after only weeks of operation, gave everyone a good feeling about the qualifying effort.
"We start the race on the Michelin tires that we run in qualifying so we need to limit the miles but, at the same time, because of the cold track conditions, it takes many laps to get heat into the tires," said Tandy, a former Porsche Carrera Cup champion and a winning co-driver at last October's Petit Le Mans.
"It is about trying to do the least possible work on the race tires but still have a good pace when we needed to set the time in the quali," Tandy continued. "The car is obviously competitive in qualifying trim. In the race it may be a little different. It's a good way to start the season. I am happy."
Long, a winner at the 2009 Rolex 24, characterized qualifying as a chess match.
"We ended up in a slipstream battle with one of the GM cars. It was going well until our last planned timed lap and we got mixed up together and we had to give that lap away. We would have liked to qualify where we ran most of the session - in the top two. Considering how new this program is and how quickly the first day goes at the 24 Hours of Daytona, to be where we are, competing with teams that have been together for many years, we have to be happy," said Long.
"The key to success for the race will be staying clean and being there at the end. It is in a driver's nature to challenge on every restart. The maturity shown by drivers and teams is going to be who prevails on Sunday," he said.
GT Daytona Qualifying - 20 cars within one second
In the intense battle between the new Porsche 911 GT America, the Ferrari 458, the Audi R8, the BMW Z4 and Aston Martin Vantage, the top 20 cars in the GT Daytona class qualified within one second - an amazing stat. For Porsche, the 911 GT America competitors were ninth, and then 13th - 21st place in class. The fastest Porsche was German Supercup veteran Norbert Siedler, who will share the No. 71 Park Place Motorsports Porsche with Craig Stanton, Dr. Jim Norman and Timo Bernhard, with the ninth fastest qualifying time. Porsche factory driver Marc Lieb (Germany) qualified 13th - the second fastest Porsche - in the car he will drive with Patrick Dempsey (Malibu, Calif.), Joe Foster (Suwanee, Ga.) and Andrew Davis (Athens, Ga.). Both Siedler and Lieb were within a half a second of the pole-setting time.
The green flag drops on the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Saturday, January 25, at 2:10pm Eastern time. Live television coverage for this initial round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship starts on the FOX television network at 2:00pm, and then moves to Fox Sports 2 at 4:00pm for the next five hours. From 9:00pm until 7:00am Sunday morning, the race moves to www.imsa.com for live streaming video coverage, and then to Fox Sports 1 through the checkered flag and post-race coverage, ending at 3:00pm (all times are Eastern).
Live Radio Broadcast will be on the Motor Racing Network on IMSA.com, MRN.com, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90), and selected over-the-air radio stations that are part of the MRN network. Live Timing and Scoring is available at http://scoring.imsa.com/.