· McLaren Driver Kuno Wittmer Tops Qualifying for Friday’s BMW Endurance Challenge
· Lexus Team Featuring NASCAR Champion Kyle Busch Opts Not to Qualify Due to Engine Change
· 58th Rolex 24 At DAYTONA Takes Green Flag at 1:40 p.m. Saturday
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2020) – 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.