Joao Barbosa will start the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona from overall pole, leading an Action Express sweep of the front row in the new era of prototype racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Barbosa took his No. 5 Cadillac DPi-V.R to a best lap of 1:36.903 in qualifying, outpacing the sister No. 31 machine of defending P class champion Dane Cameron by 0.070 seconds.
Barbosa, who will share driving duties with Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque in this weekend’s twice-around-the-clock endurance classic, went nearly one-second quicker than any team from pre-season testing or practice.
Neel Jani was the quickest of the LMP2-spec cars, in third overall, with a 1:37.123 lap set in his No. 13 Rebellion Racing Oreca 07 Gibson.
Jani’s late flyer bumped Ricky Taylor to fourth, after having provisionally topped the time sheets in the majority of the 15-minute session in what appeared to initially be a Cadillac 1-2-3 sweep.
The No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi of Brendon Hartley completed the top-five in qualifying, seven-tenths slower than the pole-sitting Cadillac, with teammate Ryan Dalziel in sixth.
Both of the Mazda RT24-Ps and the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Riley Mk. 30 Gibson struggled, bringing up the rear in the new-look class.
Jonathan Bomarito’s 1:39.940 lap was more than three seconds off the pace from Barbosa’s pole-sitting time, and ended up ninth on the time sheets.
James French, meanwhile, secured top qualifying honors in Prototype Challenge, denying Johnny Mowlem his third consecutive class pole at Daytona.
French reeled off a quick time of 1:42.559 on his final flying lap in the No. 38 Performance Tech Oreca FLM09 to edge out the No. 26 BAR1 entry of Johnny Mowlem by 0.837 seconds.
The Performance Tech and BAR1 entries were the only two PC entries to out-qualify the GT Le Mans class pole-sitting Ford GT of Joey Hand.
The No. 20 BAR1 car of Buddy Rice qualified third in class, with the two Starworks Motorsport entries bringing up the rear in the spec prototype class.
The 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona gets underway Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET, with live coverage on FOX.