For 2nd Straight Year, A Mazda Is On Pole For Rolex 24, This Year Though, Is Different, Why?

Oliver Jarvis put the No. 77 Mazda prototype on the pole for the 58th Rolex 24 At DAYTONA on Thursday, repeating his pole-winning performance from last year at Daytona International Speedway.

Jarvis, who will co-drive the Mazda Team Joest entry with Tristan Nunez and Olivier Pla in the 24-hour endurance classic that starts at 1:40 p.m. Saturday, posted a fast lap of 1 minute, 33.711 seconds (136.760 mph) on the 3.56-mile road course. Thus continued a strong early 2020 showing for Mazda; at The Roar Before the Rolex 24 test earlier this month, Mazdas looked imposing throughout the three-day session.

“This is an amazing feeling,” Jarvis said. “But it feels different. Last year there was a huge amount of emotion and expectation after a difficult 2018. Getting [three] wins last year, it’s changed the outlook this year. It’s more businesslike. That’s not to say the emotion is not there…”

Last year the No. 77 faded early and finished 44th in the 47-car field.

“The goal now is to really prep the car the best we can and get ready for the race,” Jarvis said.

Rolex 24 qualifying involved four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes – the headlining Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class, Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD).

In addition to the overall/DPi pole claimed by Jarvis, the other three class polesitters were Ben Keating in LMP2, driving the No. 52 ORECA (1:37.446/131.519); Nick Tandy in GTLM, driving the No. 911 Porsche 911 (1:42.207/125.392); and Zacharie Robichon in GTD, driving the No. 9 Porsche 911 (1:45.237/121.782).

The high-profile GTD class entry featuring reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch opted not to take the No. 14 Lexus out for qualifying, due to an engine change. As a result, it will start 16th in GTD.

The defending Rolex 24 At DAYTONA championship team from Wayne Taylor Racing qualified fifth (1:34.442/135.702), with Ryan Briscoe at the wheel. Briscoe, new to the WTR lineup, is co-driving with Renger van der Zande, Kamui Kobayashi and Scott Dixon, also new to WTR. Dixon is one of six former Indianapolis 500 champions in the star-studded field.

Also Thursday, qualifying was held for Friday’s four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge, the season-opening race for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series featuring production-based sports cars from major manufacturers. Montreal’s Kuno Wittmer put the No. 13 AWA McLaren 570 on the pole with a fast lap of 1:52.951 seconds/113.465 mph. Wittmer will co-drive with fellow Canadian Orey Fidani of Toronto.

Rolex 24 Starting Lineup

  1. 77 Jarvis/Nunez/Pia (Mazda DPi) 1:33.711
  2.  6 Montoya/Pagenaud/Cameron (Acura DPi) 1:34.154
  3. 55 Bomarito/Ticknell/Hunter-Reay (Mazda DPi) 1:34.169
  4. 31 Nasr/Conway/Derani/Albuquerque (Whelen Cadillac DPi) 1:34.294
  5. 10 Briscoe/Dixon/Kobayashi/van der Zande (Cadillac DPi) 1:34.442
  6. 85 Vautier/Piedrahita/Leist/Miller (Cadillac DPi) 1:34.454
  7.  5 Barbosa/Bourdais/Duval (Cadillac DPi) 1:35.047
  8. 52 Keating/Trummer/Boulle/Aubry (ORECA LMP2) 1:37.446
  9. 81 Hedman/Braun/Newey/Hanley (ORECA LMP2) 1:37.728
  10.  8 Farano/Dalziel/Heinemeier Hansson/Lapierre (ORECA LMP2) 1:39.275
  11. 38 Cassels/KMasson/RMasson/Yount (ORECA LMP2) 1:39.397
  12. 911 Tandy/Makowiecki/Campbell (Porsche GTLM) 1:42.207
  13. 912 Vanthoor/Jaminet/Bamber (Porsche GTLM) 1:42.256
  14. 18 Merriman/Tilley/Lewis/Minassian (ORECA LMP2) 1:42.262
  15.  3 Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (Corvette GTLM) 1:42.545
  16. 4 Milner/Fassler/Gavin (Corvette GTLM) 1:42.801
  17. 25 Eng/Herta/Spengler/De Phillippi (BMW GTLM) 1:42.941
  18. 24 Edwards/Mostert/Farfus/Krohn (BMW GTLM) 1:43.089
  19. 62 Pier Guidi/Serra/Rigon/Calado (Ferrari GTLM) 1:43.668
  20. 7 Taylor/Castroneves/Rossi (Acura DPi) 1:44.065
  21.  9 Robichon/Kern/Pilet/Olsen (Porsche GTD) 1:45.237
  22. 63 Westphal/Balzan/MacNeil/Vilander (Ferrari GTD) 1:45.713
  23. 57 Hindman/Allmendinger/Parente/Goikhberg (Acura GTD) 1:45.837
  24. 96 Foley/Klingman/Machavern/Auberlen (BMW GTD) 1:45.872
  25. 11 Schothorst/Perera/Costa/Heistand (Lamborghini GTD) 1:46.040
  26. 88 Ineichen/Morad/Vanthoor/Bortolotti (Audi GTD) 1:46.175
  27. 12 Montecalvo/Bell/Gisbergen/Telitz (Lexus GTD) 1:46.185
  28. 48 Snow/Lewis/Caldarelli/Sellers (Lamborghini GTD) 1:46.191
  29. 86 McMurry/Michimi/Gounon/Farnbacher (Acura GTD) 1:46.478
  30. 16 Hardwick/Long/Imperato/Bachler (Porsche GTD) 1:46.485
  31. 47 Gdovic/Kvamme/Hoggard/Lux (Lamborghini GTD) 1:46.835
  32. 98 Lauda/Lamy/Gunn/Watson (Aston Martin GTD) 1:46.880
  33. 23 James/Thiim/Riberas/De Angelis (Aston Martin GTD) 1:47.041
  34. 19 Nielsen/Legge/Calderon/Frey (Lamborghini GTD) 1:47.148
  35. 74 Robinson/Aschenbach/Keating/Fraga (Mercedes GTD) 1:47.273
  36. 14 Chase/Hawksworth/Busch/De Quesada (Lexus GTD) No Time
  37. 44 Mapelli/Pumpelly/Potter/Lally (Lamborghini GTD) No Time
  38. 54 Pappas/Bleekemolen/Estep/Muller (Porsche GTD) No Time

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