Van der Zande nips Castroneves for Rolex 24 pole
The defending race-winning and series-champion No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R will start the 56th Rolex 24 At Daytona Saturday from the pole after IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying Thursday at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
Renger van der Zande, competing in his first race after joining the team as Jordan Taylor’s full-time co-driver for 2018, turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 36.083 seconds at 133.378 mph around the 3.56-mile, 12-turn superspeedway road course. It came on his last lap of the 15-minute qualifying session and beat former IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves’ best lap by seven-thousandths of a second to earn the top spot in the field of 50 car-and-driver combinations entered for this weekend’s twice-around-the-clock endurance marathon.
“I am super thrilled to be in the Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R,” said van der Zande, the Dutch driving veteran who with Taylor is also joined in the cockpit this weekend by IndyCar regular Ryan Hunter-Reay. “I didn’t expect to get the pole. When the team told me on the radio I got pole, I was excited. On the final lap, I overshot turn five and I floored it and the Cadillac stuck. Every lap I was taking time out and pushing. At some of the points, it is seven or eight meters later at the braking markers. The wind was pushing me up toward the wall. I had some traffic in the session. I actually let Helio pass. I was all in on the last lap and it turned out to be fast. It is very, very tight – the most competitive field in a long time. The Konica Minolta Cadillac team has high expectations. They know how to win a championship.”
It was the second Rolex 24 pole for the No. 10 team, the first coming in 2010 by the now-retired Italian veteran Max “The Ax” Angelelli, who co-drove to victory in his final career race here last year and the debut race for the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R with Taylor, his older brother Ricky Taylor –who departed after last year’s championship season to join Castroneves at Team Penske – and four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon.
It marked back-to-back Rolex 24 poles for Cadillac and only the third career for van der Zande, who joins the defending IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship-winning squad this year.
Van der Zande will share driving duties with Jordan Taylor and Ryan Hunter-Reay in Saturday’s season-opener.
The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac of Tristan Vautier completed the top-five, with Robin Frijns sixth in the No. 37 Jackie Chan DCR JOTA Oreca.
Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, qualified 13th, as the quickest of the Ligier JS P217 Gibsons and Onroak Automotive-built prototypes.
The top 13 cars were separated by less than 1 second in qualifying.
It was a session to forget for Tequila Patron ESM, which saw one of its Nissan Onroak DPis in the barriers and another not take part.
A brake lock-up led to Nico Lapierre slamming the No. 22 Nissan DPi into the barriers at the second horseshoe, while a precautionary engine change for the No. 2 car saw it sit out the session.
The No. 77 Mazda RT24-P also did not set a time after Mazda Team Joest engineers found a data irregularity prior to qualifying.
Corvette Wins GTLM pole
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R, won the GTLM class pole for the 56th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Pole winner quick quote:
“To be honest. I’m a little bit surprised that we found that kind of speed for qualifying, but a good lap paired with a massive tow from my teammate. Fantastic lap with fantastic help from Olly (Oliver Gavin). It helped me a lot. Being that close up front that for sure mattered. But the race is a different matter. This feels super great right now, but it comes down to that this really doesn’t matter at all. But it is to show everybody that the car is fast and we are on to something that worked.”
Joey Hand was close, but not quite close enough as he nearly put the No. 66 Ford GT on pole at Daytona International Speedway for the second year in a row.
Just 0.019 seconds off the top spot, Hand will start p2 when team owner Chip Ganassi issues the call to start engines for the 56th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona on Saturday.
“Of course we’re always looking to be fastest,” said Hand, who clocked a 1:42.798 lap to put the car he shares with Dirk Müller and Sébastien Bourdais on the front row. “That’s why we’re on this team led by Chip Ganassi. He pushes all of us to be the best and we wanted the pole again this year. We basically wanted to repeat the whole weekend from last year."
“I feel like we had the best race car we’ve had all weekend today," Hand said. "I pushed. I drove as hard as I could. It’s windy out there and it’s really throwing some curveballs into the balance of the car. You had to learn quick. It was like racing a sprint car on Saturday night, trying to find out where the grip was on the dirt. The wind is in turn one, in your face, but it’s up the back on turn five, then it’s in your face again in the Bus Stop. The wind played havoc and you had to find some lines you don’t normally run. It’s hard to be so close to a pole, but we’re starting on the front row at Daytona. I think that should do. We can still win from there.”
The Porsche GT Team took the next two positions. Laurens Vanthoor was third, 1m42.927s in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR, followed by Patrick Pilet, 1m43.062s in the No. 911.
Ferrari 1-2 in GTD
The 56th Rolex 24 at Daytona gets underway Saturday at 2:40 p.m. ET with live coverage on FOX.
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