Wright Motorsports' Maassen Qualifies 11th in GT In Phillips Way Racing Porsche No. 33 For This Weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 22 - Wright Motorsports' Sascha Maassen qualified 11th in the GT class in the Phillips Way Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup No. 33 Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, as the Batavia, Ohio-based team prepared for this weekend's 47th Rolex 24.
Maassen, a native of Aachen, Germany now living in Lontzen, Belgium, turned the 3.560-mile, 14-turn road course in 1:50.517 for an average speed of 115.964 miles per hour during the 15-minute qualifying session. Two Thursday afternoon qualifying sessions set the top 20 cars in both the Daytona Prototype and GT classes in their grid positions for the start of the race on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The balance of the field will be set in another qualifying session Friday, but the Wright Motorsports team doesn't have to run in that because it's already solidly in the field.
The top 12 GT cars, including the Wright Motorsports Porsche, all broke Nick Ham's GT qualifying record of 1:50.641 for this race. Sylvain Tremblay won the pole in a Mazda RX-8 with the new mark, a 1:49.445 (117.100 mph).
Starting spots for a 24-hour race don't matter too much, and the Wright Motorsports team has been concentrating on its race set-up rather than trying to win the pole. The team is constantly experimenting in order to find an edge over the very competitive GT field for the race. Sometimes learning what not to do is as beneficial as learning what to do where set-ups are concerned, as was the case Thursday.
"We learned something," Maassen said immediately after the qualifying session. "We tried something out with the aero, and now we know which way we want to go. I think we have a good car now, but it'll be even better for the race. I'm happy. We made a good baseline. Now we can concentrate on working on what we want to do for the race. And we don't have to qualify tomorrow, which is good."
On Thursday morning Maassen was fifth in GT during the first practice session with a lap in 1:50.523 (115.958 mph). The car developed an understeer in the second practice session Thursday that caused it to drop to 15th in that session's standings, with a fastest lap in 1:51.753 (114.681 mph).
With qualifying out of the way, the team's other drivers are expected to get more laps in during the remaining practice sessions Thursday night and Friday. Those drivers are Phillip Martien of Finksburg, Md.; B.J. Zacharias of Cincinnati, and Patrick Pilet of Le Chesnay, France.