Oliver Jarvis and Mazda Team Joest can officially call themselves track record holders at the Daytona International Speedway road circuit after setting the fastest time in qualifying ahead of this weekend’s 57th Rolex 24 At Daytona.
With just six minutes of the session left Jarvis set an impressive time of 1:33.685 in the #77 Mazda RT24-P DPi car, smashing the previous record of 1:33.875 set by PJ Jones in the #98 No. 98 Toyota Eagle Mk III for Dan Gurney’s All American Racers in 1993.
“I just feel proud that I was able to reward the boys and girls who’ve worked so hard,” Jarvis said after the session. “This has been a serious effort to come here, over the winter, all of last year.
“To put it all together, to put it on pole, we know it doesn’t mean much in a 24-hour race, but I think it represents what we’re here to do.”
Mazda chases first IMSA victory
Jarvis will line up for the race on Saturday with Tristan Nunez, Timo Bernhard and Rene Rast in support as they aim to claim the elusive first IMSA victory for the Mazda brand.
“We’re here to show that we’re capable of winning races,” Jarvis said. “Hopefully we can do it here, but I think people now realize we’ve made that step that we needed to make last year.
“For (Mazda Motorsports Director) John (Doonan) I’m just so happy, he’s put his heart and soul into this project, so it’s a special day for us.”
Ricky Taylor took the #7 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05 DPi to second place on the grid, also lapping faster than the previous record, but ultimately 0.188 seconds off of the pace of Jarvis. Taylor will share the car with Indy 500 winners Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi.
The #6 Acura DPi was third fastest with Juan Pablo Montota in the driving seat of the car he will share with Dane Cameron and Simon Pagenaud whilst Jonathan Bomarito qualified the #55 Mazda DPi in fourth place. The American will have Harry Tincknell and Oliver Pla as support on race day.
2018 WeatherTech Championship Prototype co-champion Felipe Nasr rounded out the top five in the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. Eric Curran and Pipo Derani will partner with Nasr as they look to add to Derani’s victory tally at Daytona.
The #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R of Jordan Taylor, Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi, and Renger Van Der Zande will start from sixth with Agustin Canapino, Kyle Kaiser, Will Owen, and Rene Binder taking seventh place in the #50 Juncos Racing Cadillac DPi.
The two JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi’s will start from eighth and ninth place with the #85 of Tristan Vautier, Devlin DeFrancesco, Rubens Barrichello, and Misha Goikhberg getting the better of the #84 car of Stephen Simpson, Chris Miller, Juan Piedrahita, and Simon Trummer.
Core Autosport start from twelfth place as they get used to their #54 Nissan DPi in the hands ofJonathan Bennett, Colin Braun, Romain Dumas, and Loic Duval.
Dragonspeed lead the way in LMP2
A reduced field of LMP2 machinery for 2019 sees only four cars entered in to the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona and it was Australian James Allen showing the way for the class with a best time of 1:35.904 to take the #81 DragonSpeed ORECA LMP2 that he will share with Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley, and Nicolas Lapierre to tenth place overall.
“That was really good, quite the ride,” said Allen, “I trust the team to build the car up to last the 24 hours. It should be good, its good, year.”
Gabriel Aubry in the #52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 will line up second in class with Mark Kvamme, Enzo Guibbert, andMatthew McMurry sharing race day duties.
Third on the grid in LMP2 was the #18 DragonSpeed ORECA with Roberto Gonzalez behind the wheel of the car that will also be driven by Pastor Maldonado, Sebastian Saavedra, and Ryan Cullen.
Slowest of the LMP2 field was the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA LMP2 of Kyle Masson, Robert Masson, Cameron Cassels, and Kris Wright, who were 2.217 seconds slower than the class leaders.