Daytona Sunday Notebook

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

***There has been some confusion how the results from today’s qualifying race will count in the IMSA record book. Sportscar365 understands that Sunday’s winners will be earning poles and not race wins, although questions remain over the stats from other parts of the first-of-its-kind event.

***Forty-two of the 47 starters were running at the finish of the Motul Pole Award 100 with several teams electing to park their cars at various stages of the race. Among the cars was the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P320 Nissan of Cameron Cassels and Rasmus Lindh.

“It was an absolute wreck fest out there,” team principal Brent O’Neill said. “People were driving like this was the last hour of a 24-hour race, not the qualifying event. Rasmus was being really smart and had worked his way up to first when I decided it wasn’t worth the risk. We need to be at the top of our game for next weekend, any damage would be a big setback.”

***Two cars did take part in the qualifying race at all, with Team TGM electing to park its No. 64 Porsche 911 GT3 R for preservation for the race while reported electrical issues was the cause for the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 Nissan from not taking part.

***IMSA made clarifications to the aero configuration of the Oreca 07 Gibson, in a bulletin issued two hours before the qualifying race. The clarifications centered around the minimum rear wing angle and positions for the French-built prototype, which is facing competition from Dallara and Ligier at Daytona.

***As was the case in today’s race, there will be a split start between the prototypes (DPi, LMP2, LMP3) and the production-based GTLM and GTD entries in the Rolex 24. Sportscar365 understands that it has yet to be decided whether the same format will be in place for the remainder of the season.

***LMP2 class winner Mikkel Jensen said Cetilar Racing’s Dallara P217 Gibson has a noticeable advantage in straight line speed over the Oreca 07 Gibson. Daytona marks the first IMSA event for the LMP2-spec Dallara.

***Despite the remarkable success of the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R in its debut IMSA season, the car is still seeking its first long distance endurance win. Nick Tandy said the team’s goal this year is to pick up “marquee race wins” in 2021.

***Bill Auberlen is the winningest driver in IMSA history, but he had never won a qualifying race before. “It’s cool to win something new,” he said.

***Auberlen echoed the thoughts of DPi race winner Felipe Nasr in questioning whether every team showed their true potential in the qualifying race. “They wanted us to race, and we raced,” he said. “If you get penalized for this, it would be a travesty.”

***Auberlen suggested that paying full race points for the qualifying race rather than the qualifying points scale would create enough incentive for all teams and manufacturers to show their full hand.

***A total of five cars, including the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 and No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020, served a three-minute stop-and-hold penalty for improper wave-by during the first full course caution. 

***Only one car sustained notable damage in the race, with Christina Nielsen’s No. 88 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche slamming into the barriers at the Bus Stop after checking up due to traffic ahead by a slow LMP3 and GTLM car.

***Nielsen and co-driver Earl Bamber managed to finish 14th in class, six laps behind.

***Wright Motorsports’ chassis switch came exactly one year to the day when Black Swan Racing purchased the car from Wright after an accident in opening practice for last year’s Rolex 24. 

***Longtime Flying Lizard Motorsports and K-PAX Racing chief strategist Thomas Blam has joined Wright Motorsports for this weekend and the Rolex 24, as well as the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. It has not yet been decided if Blam will remain on board with the team for the remainder of the season.

***While missing this weekend’s event and the Rolex 24 due to visa-related COVID-19 issues, Bill Riley confirmed that Felipe Fraga will be in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier LMP3 entry for the remainder of the season, starting at Sebring.

***Riley told Sportscar365 he’s been surprised at the level of LMP2 cars taking part in the Rolex 24. “If you had a crystal ball, you might have thought a little bit differently,” Riley said. “But the cost to get into WeatherTech LMP3 is by far the best way to go for that.”

***Despite being set for a single-car full-season entry in Pilot Challenge, Riley said he has continued to work “very hard” on getting a second Toyota GR Supra GT4 on the grid, potentially for a mid-season debut.

Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report

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