Between them Scott Pruett and Scott Dixon put in a performance for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates that dominated qualifying for the Rolex 24 at Daytona putting their BMW-Riley on the front row for this weekend’s race.
Pruett, beginning the Rolex Series season as defending champion with Memo Rojas in the #01 car set the lap that would secure pole (1:40.553) with six minutes of the 15 minute Daytona Prototype session at Daytona International Speedway.
That lap – itself an improvement on a lap that had already put Pruett on the provisional pole – brought to an end an exchange of the top spot between Pruett and Dane Cameron, qualifying the #42 BMW-Riley for Team Sahlen.
Dixon (1:40.646) and Michael Shank Racing’s Michael Valiante demoted Cameron briefly back to fourth place only for Cameron to take two tenths off his previous best, leapfrogging Valiante in the process and ensuring a top three of BMW engines in a top four of Riley chassis.
Richard Westbrook put the Spirit of Daytona Racing Chevrolet Corvette DP fifth fastest, splitting the two Michael Shank Racing cars with A.J. Allmendinger sixth fastest.
Several top teams failed to make an impression during the session. Ryan Dalziel was only seventh fastest in the better of the two Starworks cars, the other machine in Peter Baron’s stable – with Brendon Hartley at the wheel – was hampered by gearbox problems.
Ian James for Highway to Help helped keep both Action Express Racing Corvette DP and Wayne Taylor Racing’s #10 out of the top ten entirely.
As expected Porsches dominated the GT and GX classes.
Shane Lewis paced the small GX field by a full four seconds in Napleton Racing’s Porsche Cayman, with Ryan Eversley second fastest in a similar car entered by BGB Motorsports. Andrew Carbonell was third fastest, the best of the new Mazda 6 in the class.
In GT Porsche GT3 occupied the top four places. Provisional pole setting times from Andy Lally for Magnus Racing and Sean Edwards for NGT Motorsport were swept aside in the closing minutes by Nick Tandy for Konrad Motorsport/Orbit, the Briton clinching the class pole with a lap of 1:47.631.
Despite the Porsche dominance that has been a hallmark of GT running throughout January taking the top places in qualifying perhaps flattered the Porsche teams.
At various points during the session Camaro (Robin Liddell), Audi (Filipe Albuquerque) and Ferrari (Alessandro Balzan) all featured in the top four times, Balzan ending the session as the best man outside of the Porsche ranks. Albuquerque – qualifying the #24 APR Motorsport Audi – will join him on the third row of the GT class.
Marco Seefried – for Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports – and Robin Liddell will share the fourth row.
The 51st Rolex 24 at Daytona begins at 3:30pm local time (8:30pm UK time) on Saturday.