Connect with us

WeatherTech Championship

Daytona Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Daytona International Speedway…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

***The No. 11 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3, which qualified third in the hands of Mirko Bortolotti, has had its time disallowed due to the car failing the post-qualifying stall test. It will start from the rear of the GT Daytona grid as a result.

***Renger van der Zande’s last lap qualifying thriller gave Wayne Taylor Racing only its second Rolex 24 at Daytona pole. Max Angelelli took the team’s Dallara-Ford DP to top qualifying honors in 2010.

***It came in the Dutchman’s debut with the defending IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship-winning squad, which van der Zande described as “full on pressure.” “At one time you have to show it,” he told Sportscar365. “I think that’s what happened right here. Qualifying, for my personal confidence, was pretty good.”

***His pole-winning lap was two-tenths slower than the quickest time set at the Roar by Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. High winds, as well as a pre-event power reduction for the Cadillac DPis, are believed to have contributed to the slower times on Thursday.

***The competition debut of the BMW M8 GTE has had a rocky start so far, with the No. 24 car suffering two different mechanical issues on Thursday. It was unable to run in Practice 1 with an electrical issue while a problem with splitter delimitation saw it complete only an out and in lap.

***BMW Team RLL had a similar issue with the splitter at the Roar, which saw that same car complete a total of 54 laps over the three-day test. 

***The two BMWs brought up the rear of the GTLM field in qualifying on Thursday, with John Edwards 1.634 seconds off the pace in the repaired No. 24 car.

***Four cars missed qualifying altogether. The No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi underwent a precautionary engine change while the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P was sidelined due to data anomalies, the No. 71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 having brake issues and a tire puncture for the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R on its out lap.    

***Manthey Racing’s GTD class Porsche also underwent an engine change following Practice 2, after Matteo Cairoli stopped on track to bring out a red flag in the session. Sven Mueller qualified the car 11th in class.

***Fernando Alonso, who qualified 13th in the No. 23 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson, downplayed the importance of qualifying for his first-ever endurance race. “This is probably my least important qualifying of my life,” he said. “I normally have 60-70 laps to recover what I may have done in qualifying. On Saturday, we have 24 hours.”

***United Autosports team co-owner Zak Brown, however, admitted they face an uphill battle with its pair of Ligiers, which have been unable to match the pace of the Oreca 07 Gibsons or DPi machinery so far. “I think on ultimate pace we’ll be a little bit off,” he said. “I’d be surprised if we were going away with any watches come Sunday.”

***While IMSA made BoP changes to DPi machinery since the Roar, it is not permitted to adjust LMP2-spec machinery, per its agreement with the FIA and ACO. Instead, the quickest LMP2 chassis serves as the performance baseline for the Prototype class.

***Brown said the British-based team has faced some other challenges from a logistics standpoint as well this weekend. “Coming here not having a permanent location certainly gives you some additional challenges the regular teams don’t have,” he said. “We’re working through all of that, like the time the track is shut [down], dealing with the various curfews.”

***The team is being supported by a contingent of personnel from OAK Racing/Onroak Automotive, while borrowing U.S.-specific equipment, including transporters from Andretti Autosport, courtesy of its Walkinshaw Andretti United alliance.

***The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE missed more than half of the opening session with power-related issues. “They thought they had something that was going to give us better control of the wastegates but it ended up not working,” Race engineer Rick Mayer told Sportscar365.

***Risi’s GTLM program is currently confirmed for Daytona and the Twelve Hours of Sebring only, although Toni Vilander indicated they could run up to four races in the WeatherTech Championship this year.

***Prospects of the team returning to Le Mans in GTE-Pro appear slim, as Mayer said the team is currently preparing its Le Mans program as a single-car GTE-Am effort for Keating Motorsports. “There’s still time but it’s up to Ferrari,” he said. “I know they want to run a third pro car.”

***Vilander, meanwhile, said he’s at a “good point” in talks of securing a full-season drive elsewhere this year, believed to be in the Blancpain GT Series.

***James French has driven some impressive machinery in his 25 years, including a 1997 Benetton Formula 1 car, but he said the Performance Tech Oreca 07 Gibson is the “at the top of the list” of his favorite cars to drive. French’s co-driver Pato O’Ward qualified the car in fourth position.

***Thirty-six drivers, mostly Bronze and Silver-rated, will be required to complete laps in night practice in order to be eligible for night-time running in the race. Click Here to view the list. The session gets underway at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Jake Kilshaw and Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report

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


More in WeatherTech Championship