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Blomqvist Takes First GTP Pole for New Era at Daytona

Tom Blomqvist puts Acura ARX-06 on pole position for 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

Tom Blomqvist has scored the first pole position of the new GTP era, taking Meyer Shank Racing to top qualifying honors for the 61st annual Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Blomqvist reeled off a best lap of 1:34.031 in the No. 60 Acura ARX-06 to edge out the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 of Felipe Nasr by 0.083 seconds.

Ricky Taylor set the two quickest times in qualifying prior to a red flag for an accident by Nick Tandy in the No. 6 Porsche at the Le Mans Chicane with seven minutes to go.

Tandy limped the Porsche to the pit lane with left-front nose damage.

It set up a quick restart that gave a handful of cars one timed lap, including both the Nos. 60 and 7 cars that along with the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-LMDh of Sebastien Bourdais that made improvements.

Blomqvist’s pole came after changing Michelin tires early in the 20-minute session, capitalizing on a new rule for this season.

Taylor’s 1:34.198 lap time was good enough to hold up for third quickest in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura.

Bourdais qualified fourth, ahead of the sister No. 02 Cadillac of Alex Lynn and fellow Cadillac entrant Action Express Racing with driver Pipo Derani.

The two BMW M Hybrid V8s brought up the rear of the nine-car GTP field, led by Phillip Eng in the No. 24 entry, who was less than two-tenths ahead of teammate Nick Yelloly in the No. 25 machine.

Mercedes-AMG Dominates GT Ranks

Philip Ellis scored the GTD pole, leading a Mercedes-AMG sweep of the top four starting positions in the production-based ranks.

The Winward Racing driver reeled off a best lap of 1:46.093 to edge out the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing entry of Fabian Schiller by 0.219 seconds.

Mikael Grenier will start third in GTD in the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports entry, followed by the GTD Pro class pole-sitting No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes of Maro Engel.

Engel’s 1:46.784 lap time came late in the session to bump the No. 23 The Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Ross Gunn to second in class and fifth overall.

The No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 of Kyle Marcelli was sixth in the combined results, followed by Ben Barnicoat’s GTD Pro class No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 and the No. 66 Gradient Racing Acura of Kyle Marcelli.

Jan Heylen was the quickest Porsche 911 GT3 R in qualifying, having set the 21st fastest time, which was some 2.8 seconds off Ellis’ pole-winning time.

All of the new Type-992 Porsches have struggled so far at the Roar, having brought up the rear of the time charts.

Keating, Pino Take LMP2, LMP3 Poles

Ben Keating scored the pole in LMP2 in his No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson, outpacing the nearest competition by more than a second.

Keating’s 1:40.541 lap time was 1.210 seconds ahead of Francois Heriau in the No. 35 TDS Racing Oreca, with Steven Thomas’ sister TDS machine set to line up third on the grid in class.

The session was red-flagged due to a heavy accident by the No. 8 Tower Motorsport Oreca of John Farano, who made contact with the tire barriers at the Le Mans Chicane just prior to halfway through the session.

It came as Fred Poordad had a separate, less severe impact in the No. 55 Proton Competition Oreca.

IMSA added 1 minute to the elapsed time to make the session official once the cleanup was completed.

LMP3 class pole honors went to the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P320 Nissan of Nico Pino, thanks to a 1:43.197 by the 18-year-old Chilean driver to edge out Dakota Dickerson in the No. 36 Andretti Autosport entry by 0.110 seconds.

Cameron Shields qualified third in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier, meanwhile.

Track action resumes on Thursday with the start of official practice for the Florida endurance classic.

RESULTS: Qualifying

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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