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Daytona Thursday Notebook

Tony DiZinno’s Thursday notebook from Daytona…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

***SMP Racing celebrated the first-ever pole for the BR Engineering BR01 prototype on Thursday, although under bizarre circumstances. Russian Mikhail Aleshin set the ninth quickest time overall in qualifying, behind both the GTLM and PC class pole-sitters, in a session that saw mixed conditions and the heaviest rain during the Prototype qualifying session.

***IMSA clarified the grid order Thursday night as P, PC, GTLM and GTD for the 54th Rolex 24 at Daytona, after deteriorating track conditions at Daytona jumbled the qualifying times.

***The rule invoked, Rule 40.1.4, states that if a session is declared variable conditions by the Race Director to start, competitors can select dry or wet tires as conditions dictate. The class order is P, PC, GTLM and GTD, and then broken down by times within the class to set the grid order.

***The qualifying situation marks an abnormality at Daytona, but not the first time where the overall fastest qualifying entry will not start the Rolex 24 from first place overall. In 2003, Justin Bell set the fastest qualifying time in a Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, but started behind the six Daytona Prototype entries in those cars’ debut.

***In total, six cars from all four classes did not set times during the rain-soaked qualifying session. Those six are the DeltaWing, the CORE autosport and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports PC cars, the SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GTE, which crashed, and the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS and No. 16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3.

***The prototypes that opted not to qualify failed to do so owing to the conditions, while beyond the SMP Ferrari, the Stevenson and Change crews were working on their cars during the session.

***Change suffered a tough Thursday, when Spencer Pumpelly reportedly had something break on the left front and lost control of his No. 16 car exiting Daytona’s oval Turn 4 in first practice. He was evaluated and released from the infield care center, but the Robby Benton-led crew continued repairs through qualifying.

***Ahead of night practice, 55 Silver and Bronze-rated drivers would need to participate per Article 30 of the Sporting Regulations. SMP Racing’s Victor Shaytar in the No. 72 Ferrari and Change’s Corey Lewis and Kaz Grala are the three Silver or Bronze drivers from the two affected cars who still need to complete their mandatory night laps.

***James Davison’s TRG-AMR team repaired the right rear quarter panel following a right rear blowout on the front straight, with Lars Viljoen driving the No. 007 car. It was a thrash to get the car out but Davison, who qualified on pole in 2015, made it up to 12th in GTD qualifying.

***Per Continental Tire, following several issues in the GT Daytona class (including TRG-AMR’s, above) and due to the increased loads of the GTD platform this year, Continental mandated all GTD teams up their minimum pressure to 26 psi cold for wet tires at Daytona.

***There were no issues reported at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test and with this the same wet tire in GTD since Continental’s entry into IMSA, there were no prior issues reported.

***Davison, who makes a last-minute and surprise return to the TRG-AMR team this weekend, is hoping to do more races in the team’s Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3. The team will evaluate whether it does further races in IMSA after this weekend.

***The Road Racing Drivers Club honored Scott Pruett with the 2016 Phil Hill Award, with a presentation made by RRDC president Bobby Rahal at a dinner Wednesday night. The award has been presented annually since 1993 to the person who the RRDC feels has rendered outstanding service to road racing.

***Audi Tire Center was announced as a primary partner for Magnus Racing this season, while Champion Porsche will partner with Black Swan Racing for Daytona.

***Stephen Simpson will likely maintain a similar split with Chris Miller alongside Mikhail Goikhberg in the JDC/Miller Motorsports Prototype Challenge entry for the season, with either driver alongside the Canadian depending on the weekend. Kenton Koch will race at Daytona and Sebring with further races to be determined.

***Koch held a group photo opportunity Thursday morning to celebrate one year since his mom received a new heart. A number of people in the IMSA community signed a Donate Life America card last year, and then gathered in the JDC/Miller garage area with the sign.

***IMSA Radio has revealed its broadcast team for the 2016 season, its second year in the partnership between IMSA and Radio Show Limited. John Hindhaugh and Jeremy Shaw will continue in their host and play-by-play roles, with Shea Adam and Jim Roller set to take on expanded roles during the full season. Additional contributors will join at this weekend’s Rolex 24.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony


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