SMP Racing’s Aleshin Takes Daytona 24 Hours Pole

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SMP Racing will start the 2016 Daytona 24 Hours from pole position after Mikhail Aleshin set the fastest prototype time in a subdued qualifying session that was heavily affected by the elements.

The Russian driver’s 2:05.793s lap was actually the ninth quickest time overall, but Aleshin will start from pole as the prototype and GT grids are separated for the race on Saturday.

The fastest lap outright went to Nick Tandy in the #911 Porsche 911 RSR, who set the bar high in GTLM with a 2:01.408s effort. Seven GTLM cars and a single Prototype Challenge machine all posted quicker times than the pole-sitting prototype.

Aleshin had to battle persistent rain and declining visibility to claim his career first Daytona 24 Hours pole, beating the ESM Ligier JS P2-HPD of Luis Felipe Derani by six tenths of a second.

Third in prototype was Oswaldo Negri Jr in the Michael Shank Racing Ligier, ensuring an LMP2 lockout of the top three grid positions.

Wayne Taylor Racing will start from fourth as the highest placed DP entry; Ricky Taylor starting the session strongly to set a 2:07.966s best.

Completing the top five was the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford of Alex Wurz who also set his flying lap early at 2:08.639s.

As mentioned, Nick Tandy was the class of the field in GTLM, taking pole position in a single lap shootout after a lengthy red flag halted the session. The Briton was imperious in the #911 Porsche, beating Fred Makowiecki in the #912 sister car by 0.965s.

BMW Team RLL will start third in class after John Edwards was unable to split to the two Porsches in the #100 M6 GTLM. Edwards’ 2:02.497s lap was a clear eight tenths quicker than Alessandro Pier Guidi in the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE.

The 15 minute qualifying session was red flagged at its midpoint after Gianmaria Bruni had an uncharacteristic spin in the new SMP Racing Ferrari 488. Bruni made slight contact with the turn one wall and accrued some light rear end damage to the #72 car, although it should be ready to race on Saturday.

Several teams played it safe in the challenging conditions (Photo courtesy of IMSA)

Prototype Challenge saw a limited number of cars take to the track as several teams chose not to risk running in the poor conditions. Of those that did take part, the BAR1 Motorsports Oreca FLM09s benefited the most by sealing first and third on the class grid. Johnny Mowlem was the quickest of the pair, setting a 2:05.708s fastest lap to secure his second consecutive pole at the Daytona 24 Hours.

Mowlem finished the session 2.4 seconds ahead of Stephen Simpson in the JDC-Miller car, who produced a 2:07.413s lap to edge out Ryan Eversley in the second BAR1 machine.


In GTD, Norbert Siedler dominated in the wet to put the #73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R on pole position in its first Daytona 24 Hours. The Austrian’s time of 2:05.978s put a 0.559 second gap between himself and Marc Basseng in the #28 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan. The second row was decided on the final lap of the quickfire session as Leh Keen dug deep to put the #22 Alex Job Racing Porsche ahead of Damien Faulkner in the #93 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3R.

Sven Mueller completed the top five in the Frikadelli Racing Porsche, while Jeroen Bleekemolen qualified the other Riley-entered Viper sixth, just ahead of Richie Stanaway in the works Aston Martin Vantage.

Subject to the weather, all four classes will be back on track later today for night time practice between 18:30 and 20:00 ET.

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