In the qualifying session for the storied season-opener of the IMSA SportsCar Championship and the North American Endurance Cup, Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) clocked the third quickest time in the GTLM class with the number 912 car – a mere 14-hundredths of a second off the pole-setting time. His teammates are the two-time Le Mans overall winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Gianmaria Bruni (Italy). Patrick Pilet (France) posted the fourth quickest time on the Daytona International Speedway at the wheel of the #911 Porsche 911 RSR, which he shares with outright Le Mans winner Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France).
The first qualifying of the season underlines just how fierce the competition will again be in the 2018 GTLM class: the top eight cars qualified within eight-tenths of a second.
Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsport: “Both 911 RSR in the second grid row – that’s a very good team result. I hope we can repeat this strong performance in the race. We still have another two practice sessions, which we’ll make the best use of to prepare for the race. We’re ready.”
Laurens Vanthoor (911 RSR #912): “I’m very happy with my time. At least we’re up the front for the start of the race and we can fight for the lead spot. Looking at the fight for the title, this puts us in a good position right from the start of the season.”
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “Our 911 RSR ran better during the qualifying than in free practice. To see that we’ve worked in the right direction makes us very confident for the race.”
1. Magnussen/Garcia/Rockenfeller (DK/E/D), Chevrolet Corvette, 1:42.779 minutes
2. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, + 0.019 seconds
3. Bamber/Vanthoor/Bruni (NZ/B/I), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.148
4. Pilet/Tandy/Makowiecki (F/GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.283
5. Westbrook/Briscoe/Dixon (GB/USA/NZL), Ford GT, + 0.312
6. Gavin/Milner/Fässler (GB/USA/CH), Chevrolet Corvette, + 0.674
7. Vilander/Pier Guidi/Calado/Rigon (SF/I/I/I), Ferrari 488, + 0.822
8. Sims/de Phillippi/Auberlen/Eng (GB/USA/USA/A), BMW M8, + 1.169
9. Krohn/Edwards/Catsburg/Farfus (SF/USA/NL/BRA), BMW M8, + 1.634
1. Serra/Della Lana/Lauda/Lamy (BRA/CAN/A/P), Ferrari 488, 1:46.049 minutes
2. Molina/Perez de Lara/Fuentes/Creel/Griffin (E/MEX/MEX/MEX/IRL), Ferrari 488, + 0.453 seconds
3. Bortolotti/Ineichen/Perera/Breukers (I/CH/F/NL), Lamborghini, + 0.609
9. Long/Nielsen/Jaminet/Renauer (USA/DK/F/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 1.242
12. Cairoli/Müller/Smith/Walls/Prozcyk (I/D/CH/B/A), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 1.538
The race starts on Saturday at 14:40 local time (20:40 CET) and can be watched live outside the USA on www.imsa.com.