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David Malsher-Lopez

Rolex 24: Blomqvist’s Acura beats Nasr’s Porsche to Daytona pole


Due to poor weather and only two of the new GTP cars taking to the track in Saturday’s two-hour evening session, the class was granted an extra 15mins’ prep before qualifying.

Sebastien Bourdais and Alex Lynn were installed in the #01 and #02 Chip Ganassi Racing-run Cadillac V-LMDh entries, Nick Tandy and Felipe Nasr took charge of the Team Penske-run Porsche 963s, Philipp Eng was wheeling one of the BMW M Hybrid V8s run by Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Pipo Derani was driving the Action Express Racing Cadillac, Ricky Taylor pedaled the Acura ARX-06 of Wayne Taylor Racing, while the similar car of Meyer Shank Racing was driven by Tom Blomqvist. The #25 BMW missed the session because the car was still in the IMSA tech line.

Tandy was the first to get into the 95sec range, with a 1min35.530sec, then lowered the mark to 1:35.349sec, then 1:35.228. Then Blomqvist and Nasr set identical times to each other to draw within 0.08sec, and next time by Blomqvist was on top with a 1:35.081 for MSR Acura.

That wasn’t the final roll of the dice though, because Nasr cracked the 95sec barrier with an impressive 1min34.926sec around the 3.56-mile Daytona course. The session showed that Wayne Taylor Racing Acura (fifth overall) was fastest in Sector 1, Nasr’s 963 was quickest in Sector 2, and Meyer Shank’s Acura was top in Sector 3.

Some 75mins later, after the lower classes had qualified, the GTP cars were back on track for their 20min qualifying session.

The two Acuras were first out, and Taylor delivered a 1min34.783sec effort on his third lap and 1:34.295 on his fourth. Blomqvist then pitted for fresh tires, while Taylor let his tires cool before going for another fast one – an impressive 1:34.198.

Nick Yelloly in the #25 BMW got within 0.9sec, but he was pushed down to fifth, by Nasr, Tandy and teammate Eng.

Tandy had set the fastest two sectors of all on his next lap, but braking for the Bus Stop chicane – where LMP2 drivers had reported a severe tail wind – Tandy lost control on turn-in and struck the tire wall. That brought out the red flag and cost the #6 car its two fastest times.

That left the cars with just one chance of a flying lap, and it was going to be tough to make an impression without tire warmers, but Nasr delivered an excellent 1min34.114sec to beat Taylor… only to see his time shaded by a 1min34.031sec from Blomqvist’s MSR Acura!

Bourdais had sat idle for the majority of the session, but emerged from the pits in determined mood to land a 1min34.262sec and fourth on the grid alongside Taylor, and within a quarter-second of the pole.

Teammate Lynn will start from fifth alongside Derani of AXR, while the BMWs of Eng and Yelloly were a respectable seventh and eighth, within 1sec of pole.

#52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07: Ben Keating, Paul-Loup Chatin, Alex Quinn, Nicolas Lapierre (Photo by: Art Fleischmann)


With the amateurs onboard to qualify, Steven Thomas led the field on track and on the times at first, the TDS Racing driver getting down to a 1min41.813sec. Ben Keating of PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports was looking increasingly frustrated right behind him, finally found enough clear air to slam in a 1:40.541 to go fastest by 1.2sec ahead of Francois Heriau in the second TDS car.

Before anyone could try and close the gap, the red flag flew. Almost simultaneously, Fred Poordad had gone into the tires at Turn 6, taking a front fender off his Proton Competition entry, while John Farano had piled the Tower Motorsports entry he shares with Scott McLaughlin, Josef Newgarden and Kyffin Simpson hard into the tires at Turn 7.

Once the crumpled Oreca had been retrieved and the tire wall rebuilt, there was no time left for the action to resume and so Keating had Rolex 24 pole in the handsome Wynn’s car.

#33 Sean Creech Motorsport, Ligier JS P320, LMP3: Lance Willsey, Joao Barbosa, Nico Pino, Danny Soufi (Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images)


Cameron Shields set a strong benchmark for Performance Tech Motorsports with a 1min43.824sec with seven minutes to go, but he was closely pursued by Dakota Dickerson of Andretti Autosport and Guilherme de Oliveira in the #43 MRS GT entry. Nico Pino in the Sean Creech Motorsport moved to the top, Dickerson responded to shade him by 0.1sec, before Pino got his best down to 1min43.197sec. Shields drew to within 0.16sec to temporarily claim second.

Dickerson made a valiant effort to displace Pino from P1, setting his own best in sector 1, best of everyone in sector 2, but then the Andretti car lost a couple of tenths in the final sector to come up 0.110sec short, and so it was pole for Sean Creech Motorsport. Shields retained third for Performance Tech, and De Oliveira was fourth, yet only 0.36sec off the top spot.

Gar Robinson’s final run for Riley Motorsports saw him jump to fifth, completing a 1-2-3-4-5 for the Duqueine D08 chassis. He will start alongside Luca Mars – top Ligier JS P320 driver – who suffered a spin in the JDC Miller MotorSports that flat-spotted his tires.

#57 Winward Racing Mercedes AMG GT3: Russell Ward, Philip Ellis, Lucas Auer, Indy Dontje (Photo by: Art Fleischmann)

GTD Pro and GTD

New for this year, GTD teams were allowed to run their Platinum and Gold drivers to run qualifying. With 33 cars in total – nine GTD Pro, and 24 GTD – the track was extremely busy.

The Acura NSXs of Mario Farnbacher (Gradient Racing) and Kyle Marcelli (Racers Edge) were 1-2 with 5min30sec to go but a minute later Fabian Schiller of SunEnergy1 Racing slotted his Mercedes AMG GT3 into the top spot with a 1min46.659sec, with the similar car of Team Korthoff just 0.046sec behind driven by Mikael Grenier.

Suddenly, Philip Ellis of Winward Racing delivered a 1min46.267sec to make it a Mercedes 1-2-3, and as he took the checkered flag he extended his advantage to 0.219 with a 1min46.093. Schiller had no answer to that, but was a hefty 0.4sec clear of Grenier.

Remarkably Maro Engel of WeatherTech Racing made it a Mercedes 1-2-3-4 by topping the GTD Pro class, although he was a surprising 0.7sec slower than the GTD polesitter. The Aston Martin Vantages that had looked so strong in practice looked somewhat underrepresented in the top 10, Ross Gunn (GTD Pro) and Roman De Angelis (GTD) putting their Heart of Racing cars into fifth and 10th overall. They were separated by Marcelli’s Acura, Ben Barnicoat in the GTD Pro Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F, Farnbacher’s Acura and Marvin Kirchhofer’s Inception Racing McLaren 720S.

2023 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona qualifying times: 

Cla   Nº   Driver   Car / Engine   Time   Delay   Laps 
60 Tom Blomqvist
Colin Braun
Simon Pagenaud
Acura 1'34.031   8
7 Matt Campbell
Felipe Nasr
Porsche 1'34.114 0.083 6
10 Ricky Taylor
Louis Delétraz
Brendon Hartley
Acura 1'34.198 0.167 7
01 S.Bourdais
R.van der Zande
Scott Dixon
Cadillac 1'34.262 0.231 4
02 Earl Bamber
Alex Lynn
Cadillac 1'34.389 0.358 3
31 Pipo Derani
Alexander Sims
Jack Aitken
Cadillac 1'34.608 0.577 6
24 Philipp Eng
Augusto Farfus
Marco Wittmann
Colton Herta
BMW 1'34.723 0.692 6
25 C.De Phillippi
Nick Yelloly
S.van der Linde
Colton Herta
BMW 1'34.846 0.815 7
52 Ben Keating
Paul-Loup Chatin
Alex Quinn
Nicolas Lapierre
ORECA/Gibson 1'40.541 6.510 6
10  35 François Heriau
G.van der Garde
Josh Pierson
Job van Uitert
ORECA/Gibson 1'41.751 7.720 6
11  11 Steven Thomas
Mikkel Jensen
Scott Huffaker
R.Van Kalmthout
ORECA/Gibson 1'41.813 7.782 6
12  88 François Perrodo
Julien Canal
Nicklas Nielsen
ORECA/Gibson 1'41.942 7.911 5
13  04 George Kurtz
Ben Hanley
Matt McMurry
ORECA/Gibson 1'41.951 7.920 6
14  51 Eric Lux
Austin Cindric
ORECA/Gibson 1'42.111 8.080 6
15  20 Dennis Andersen
Ed Jones
Anders Fjordbach
ORECA/Gibson 1'42.277 8.246 5
16  33 Lance Willsey
João Barbosa
Nico Pino
Danny Soufi
Ligier/Nissan 1'43.197 9.166 9
17  36 Jarett Andretti
Gabby Chaves
Dakota Dickerson
Rasmus Lindh
Ligier/Nissan 1'43.307 9.276 8
18  38 John DeAngelis
Chris Allen
Connor Bloum
Cameron Shields
Ligier/Nissan 1'43.351 9.320 8
19  43 S.Álvarez
Alex Vogel
Guilherme Oliveira
Danial Frost
Ligier/Nissan 1'43.557 9.526 8
20  74 Gar Robinson
Felipe Fraga
Josh Burdon
Glenn Van Berlo
Ligier/Nissan 1'43.840 9.809 9
21  85 T.Bechtolsheimer
T.van der Helm
Luca Mars
Mason Filippi
Duqueine/Nissan 1'43.883 9.852 7
22  18 Dwight Merriman
Ryan Dalziel
Oliver Jarvis
ORECA/Gibson 1'43.965 9.934 5
23  87 Yu Kanamaru
Nick Boulle
James Vance
Duqueine/Nissan 1'44.237 10.206 8
24  13 Orey Fidani
Matthew Bell
Lars Kern
Moritz Kranz
Duqueine/Nissan 1'45.822 11.791 9
25  57 Russell Ward
Philip Ellis
Indy Dontje
Lucas Auer
Mercedes 1'46.093 12.062 7
26  17 Anthony Mantella
Wayne Boyd
Nicolás Varrone
Thomas Merrill
Duqueine/Nissan 1'46.187 12.156 8
27  75 ?
Fabian Schiller
Axcil Jefferies
Mercedes 1'46.312 12.281 7
28  32 Mike Skeen
Mikaël Grenier
Kenton Koch
Maximilian Götz
Mercedes 1'46.705 12.674 7
29  79 Cooper MacNeil
Jules Gounon
Maro Engel
Mercedes 1'46.784 12.753 8
30  23 Ross Gunn
Alex Riberas
David Pittard
Aston Martin 1'46.825 12.794 8
31  93 Ashton Harrison
Danny Formal
Kyle Marcelli
Ryan Briscoe
Acura 1'46.867 12.836 8
32  14 Jack Hawksworth
Ben Barnicoat
Mike Conway
Lexus 1'46.923 12.892 8
33  66 Sheena Monk
Katherine Legge
Mario Farnbacher
Marc Miller
Acura 1'46.960 12.929 8
34  70 Brendan Iribe
Ollie Millroy
McLaren 1'46.979 12.948 7
35  27 Roman De Angelis
Marco Sørensen
Ian James
Darren Turner
Aston Martin 1'47.088 13.057 7
36  12 Aaron Telitz
Kyle Kirkwood
Parker Thompson
Lexus 1'47.361 13.330 7
37  3 Antonio García
Jordan Taylor
Tommy Milner
Chevrolet 1'48.077 14.046 7
38  64 Ted Giovanis
Hugh Plumb
Matt Plumb
Owen Trinkler
Aston Martin 1'48.081 14.050 8
39  63 A.Caldarelli
Mirko Bortolotti
Jordan Pepper
Romain Grosjean
Lamborghini 1'48.233 14.202 8
40  47 Roberto Lacorte
Antonio Fuoco
Ferrari 1'48.309 14.278 6
41  19 R.Giammaria
Franck Perera
Rolf Ineichen
Lamborghini 1'48.432 14.401 8
42  95 Bill Auberlen
Chandler Hull
Bruno Spengler
BMW 1'48.505 14.474 6
43  1 Bryan Sellers
Madison Snow
Corey Lewis
Maxime Martin
BMW 1'48.526 14.495 5
44  96 P.Gallagher
Robby Foley
Michael Dinan
Jens Klingmann
BMW 1'48.756 14.725 6
45  44 John Potter
Andy Lally
Spencer Pumpelly
Nicki Thiim
Aston Martin 1'48.820 14.789 8
46  16 Ryan Hardwick
Jan Heylen
Dennis Olsen
Porsche 1'48.942 14.911 7
47  9 Klaus Bachler
Patrick Pilet
Laurens Vanthoor
Porsche 1'48.977 14.946 7
48  83 Rahel Frey
Sarah Bovy
Michelle Gatting
Doriane Pin
Lamborghini 1'48.991 14.960 7
49  78 M.Goikhberg
Loris Spinelli
Benjamín Hites
Marco Mapelli
Lamborghini 1'49.075 15.044 7
50  21 Simon Mann
Miguel Molina
Ferrari 1'49.265 15.234 8
51  77 A.Brynjolfsson
Trent Hindman
Maxwell Root
Kévin Estre
Porsche 1'49.358 15.327 8
52  92 David Brule Sr.
Alec Udell
Andrew Davis
Porsche 1'49.373 15.342 7
53  62 A.P.Guidi
James Calado
Daniel Serra
Davide Rigon
Ferrari 1'49.495 15.464 7
54  91 Alan Metni
Kay van Berlo
Jaxon Evans
Julien Andlauer
Porsche 1'49.507 15.476 8
55  80 PJ Hyett
Seb Priaulx
Gunnar Jeannette
Harry Tincknell
Porsche 1'49.644 15.613 8
56  8 John Farano
Scott McLaughlin
Josef Newgarden
Kyffin Simpson
ORECA/Gibson 1'49.679 15.648 4
57  023 Onofrio Triarsi
Charles Scardina
Alessio Rovera
Andrea Bertolini
Ferrari 1'49.763 15.732 8
58  53 Mark Kvamme
Trenton Estep
Jan Magnussen
Jason Hart
Porsche 1'50.628 16.597 7
59  42 Don Yount
Jaden Conwright
Kerong Li
Alessio Deledda
Lamborghini 1'50.873 16.842 8
60  55 Fred Poordad
Francesco Pizzi
James Allen
Gianmaria Bruni
ORECA/Gibson 1'50.969 16.938 4
61  6 Mathieu Jaminet
Nick Tandy
Dane Cameron
Porsche - - 3
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