Wayne Taylor Racing Tops 2018 Rolex 24 Qualifying
Plus a Ferrari, a Corvette, and more.
Daytona Beach, FL: Thursday at Daytona International Speedway was critical for those competing at this weekend's Rolex 24 with three rounds of practice and qualifying taking place for Weathertech Sportscar competitors. Teams swapped spots at the top of the board throughout the day and night, but eventually, quali set everyone's position on the grid for Saturday's race start. The results feature some familiar faces in P1, but there were several in each category that put themselves in prime position for the day-long Floridian event.
Wayne Taylor Racing proved fastest in the 20-car-deep Prototype category as the outfit hopes to recreate its success from Daytona last year. A quickest time of 1:36.083 was enough to nudge the Cadillac ahead of Penske Acura's No. 7 car and Helio Castroneves who posted a slightly slower lap at 1:35.090. The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi will start in third position overall, making the American automaker's name all the more relevant during its sophomore campaign.
Fernando Alonso qualified 13th of 20 for United Autosports in the Ligier LMP2-spec machine. This comes just hours after team boss Zak Brown said he doesn't "expect to leave with any watches," which is an allusion to the traditional prize awarded to winners at the Rolex 24. Alonso himself admitted that UA didn't have the most competitive car on the grid, but in preparation for a potential Le Mans bid, any endurance action counts towards the Spaniard's pioneering efforts.
Jan Magnussen, a former winner of the Rolex 24, set the pace for GTLM in his No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R racer. He managed a 1:42.779, just .012 seconds ahead of the team's American rival, Chip Ganassi Racing. The No. 66 CGR, Ford GT was piloted by Joey Hand and clocked a 1:42.798 in Thursday's qualifying run. Rounding out the top three for IMSA's quickest GT class, Laurens Vanthoor and one-half of the Porsche 911 RSR twins performed a 1:42.927 which revealed a near two-tenths deficit. That being said, the top three positions aren't typically separated by much come time for the 24, so it can easily be made up on the circuit.
Both of the all-new BMW M8 GTLM competitors fell to the bottom of the category after struggling in qualifying. Team RLL's No. 25 and No. 24 cars were eighth and ninth, marking respective times of 1:43.948 and 1:44.413, the latter being a full second and a half off of Magnussen's Corvette.
Finally, in GTD, Spirit of Daytona climbed to the top with its Ferrari 488 GTE and a 1:46.049 lap. It was quickly followed by Risi Competizione's version of the same make and model with half a second separating the two. This gives Risi its best initial standing at the 24 Hours of Daytona as its GTLM competitor qualified in seventh position. Grasser Racing Team then came in third behind the other two Italians in its No. 11 Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
In conclusion, these are the best of each category that will stand in front of the starting grid at 2:40 p.m. EST on Saturday. Although they may start from a prime position, there's no promise that they will end in the same spot—or even finish the race. Full timing results can be found on IMSA's official website.
Stay tuned to The Drive for more Rolex 24 coverage as we will have boots on the ground for the entire race weekend.
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