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Hand Leads Ford 1-2-3 Qualifying Sweep in GTLM

Joey Hand leads Ford 1-2-3 sweep in GTLM qualifying for Rolex 24…

Photo: Ford Performance

Photo: Ford Performance

Joey Hand led a top-three sweep for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing in GT Le Mans qualifying for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The Californian’s benchmark time of 1:43.473 in the No. 66 Ford GT was 0.231 seconds quicker than team-mate Richard Westbrook’s No. 67 car, with Olivier Pla completing the top three in No. 68 Ford, despite a spin at the Horseshoe.

Hand will share driving duties with fellow 24 Hours of Le Mans class winners Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, as part of Ford’s four-car effort for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener.

Toni Vilander will start fourth in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, ahead of the best-placed of the new Porsche 911 RSRs, the No. 911 driven by Patrick Pilet and Andy Priaulx’s No. 69 Ford.

Defending winners Corvette Racing could not match the pace of the front-running Fords and will start from seventh and ninth in class.

The No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Jan Magnussen was the quickest of the two, eight-tenths off pole, with Oliver Gavin’s No. 4 car a further four tenths behind.

The two BMW M6 GTLMs rounded out the field in tenth and eleventh positions. Bill Auberlen in the No. 19 car and John Edwards’ No. 24 lapped 1.2 and 1.5 seconds respectively slower than Hand.

In GT Daytona, Ferrari 488 GT3s locked out the front row, as the No. 51 Sprit of Race entry driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi edged Scuderia Corsa’s Alessandro Balzan by a mere 0.018 seconds.

Pier Guidi rocketed to a quick time of 1:47.099 in the AF Corse-run Ferrari.

The single Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in the field, driven by FIA World Endurance Championship GT Drivers champion Marco Sorensen was the best of the rest, a full 0.635 seconds slower than Pier Guidi in third.

The Dane will share row two with the Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Daytona rookie Matteo Cairoli, with Mirko Bortolotti’s Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 fifth and Connor De Phillippi sixth in the Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS.

Defending GTD winner Andy Lally ensured Acura were the best of the newcomers in seventh, while 3GT Racing’s Scott Pruett was the fastest Lexus RC F GT3 driver in 13th in class.

The Mercedes-AMG teams struggled in qualifying. Boris Said’s SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 was quickest of the three cars entered and will start 18th in the 27-car field.

The 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona gets underway Saturday at 2:30 p.m., with live coverage on FOX.

RESULTS: Qualifying

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