Mazda Team Joest And Oliver Jarvis Repeat As Pole Winners For Rolex 24 At Daytona

The #77 Pole winning Mazda Team Joest DPi flies through the high banks in Turn 4 at Daytona. [Joe Jennings Photo]

The #77 Pole winning Mazda Team Joest DPi flies through the high banks in Turn 4 at Daytona. [Joe Jennings Photo]

By Joe Jennings

DAYTONA BEACH – Mazda Team Joest and driver Oliver Jarvis were once again the fastest in qualifying for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the opening race of the season for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Jarvis timed at 1 minute and 33.711 seconds (136.760 miles per hour) around the twisting 3.56-mile road course and came within a whisker of breaking the qualifying record he set a year ago.

“I thought the track record would go this weekend but today’s weather, the track didn’t allow it,” the Brit said. “To put it on the pole again is an amazing fete. Last year there was a lot of emotion on the team but with the wins we picked up, the emotion is gone and everything is more business-like. Our goal this weekend is to prep the car for the race and we would love to make it to the end, which would help us kick start the year.”

For the long race, Jarvis will share the wheel with Tristan Nunez and Olivier Pla.

The ACURA Team Penske of Juan Pablo Montoya, Dane Cameron and Simon Pagenaud qualified second fastest, .443 seconds behind the pole winner.

A sister Mazda Team Joest car of Jonathan Bomarito, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Harry Tincknell was third fastest.

The second ACURA Team Penske being qualified by Ricky Taylor sustained heavy front-end damage when he crashed in the bus stop after skating over newly installed rumble strips.

Indianapolis 500 winners Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi co-drive with Taylor

The 2019 race-winning car of Wayne Taylor Racing Konica-Minolta Cadillac qualified fifth. This year’s driver line-up has Renger van der Zende, Kamui Kobayashi, Ryan Briscoe and NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon.

In LMP2 action, Ben Keating earned the pole with a time of 1 minute and 37.446 seconds to earn his first pole at Daytona and second of his career. The Texan is pulling double duty as he will also drive a Mercedes in the GTD class.

“I’m having lots of fun and. that’s why I am here,” he commented. “I have been racing in IMSA for a long time and this is only my second pole. During qualifying, my team kept telling me I was too slow going through the bus stop. What I can tell you is that it took a lot of courage to go though there in what I call the Bermuda Triangle of the Daytona International Speedway.”

In the GTLM class, a pair of new factory Porsche’s, led by Nick Tandy, bested a pair new of new mid-engine Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R’s.

The Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3.R of Zacharie Robichon topped the 18-car GTD field.

The Lexus RC F GT3 of Kyle Busch, Jack Hawksworth, Parker Chase and Michael de Quesada failed to make a qualifying run along with two others, meaning the trio of cars will start at the rear of the field.

Overall, 38 cars in four classes will start the famed race in what turns out to be the smallest starting fields in years.

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