Porsche drivers take the top four GT positions in qualifying.
Daytona Beach – While the rest of the country suffers from zero degree temperatures, there were no such hardships today at the Daytona International Speedway as the newest Porsche factory driver, Nick Tandy (GB) captured the GT pole in the Konrad Motorsport/Orbit Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer for Saturday’s 51st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Ferraris, BMWs, Corvettes, Camaros, Audis, Vipers, and 18 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars – took to the track for the quick 15-minute qualifying session. Tandy’s pole-sitting effort – a lap of 1:47.63 or 119.07 mph on the 3.56 combination oval-road course – was the fastest GT lap of the day. He will share the car with Porsche Junior driver Michael Christensen, Cup car specialist Christian Engelhart, and car owner Lance Willsey in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup prepared jointly by veteran Porsche team owners Rodger Hawley and Franz Konrad.
Nick Tandy, pole position, #32 Konrad Motorsport/Orbit Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup:
“It was our strategy to wait a few laps and see what the pace was, and play it from there. We managed to get one clean lap in – which was all we needed. The car is really good on race pace, which is everything. But it’s nice to start the race with Porsche 1-2 at the front. Winning the pole sounds very good to me. Let’s see if we can translate that to ‘Nick Tandy, champion of the Rolex 24. Pole position for the Rolex 24 at Daytona is something not to be minimized. Although the race is 24 hours, being in front at the start is an advantage as you will miss any early traffic troubles. Our car was great today – we are all looking forward to the race.”
Second was Lally in the Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup that he will co-drive with team owner John Potter, Porsche factory driver Richard Lietz, and Nicolas Armindo.
ANDY LALLY . 2nd position #44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT3Cup:
“This is about the fifth year where we were really close and just missed the pole in this class. We’ve got a lot of good guys out here – like Tandy and Edwards – and I knew it was going to be a real good scrap at the front. Pat Long was fourth – you’ve got an array of Porsche factory guys up near the front. I’m really proud of the Magnus guys to do the job that they did to get this car as good and as strong as they did. We did that lap completely by ourselves. I’m stoked about that, because I think a lot of the guys had a little pull out there. That shows that our car is strong. We did a lot of good laps in a row. We’re representing Flex-Box well by starting on the front row, and I’m looking forward to continuing our streak (five consecutive GT podiums).”
Third is Supercup and Carrera Cup star Sean Edwards in the Momo NGT Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with Kuba Giermaziak/factory driver Patrick Pilet/Henrique Cisneros.
Sean Edwards, 3rd position, #30 MOMO NGT Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup:
“It was a tough qualifying session. It was very hard to get a clear lap. I managed to get good tows but then the other cars were too slow in the infield for me to keep my time up. In the end it was a little bit unlucky because I’m sure we could have gone faster but it’s good to be P3 compared to where we were last year (P13). I’m happy and the car feels really good. The most important thing is we have a good car for the race. We definitely have a car to win so long as everything holds up and we stay in one piece to the end, then we should have a good chance.”
The new Park Place Porsche Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with Patrick Long is fourth on the grid; Patrick will share the car with Patrick Lindsey/Daniel Graef/Spencer Pumpelly/Jason Hart.
Patrick Long, 4th position, Park Place Porsche 911 GT3 Cup:
“It’s tricky,” said Long, the American factory Porsche driver who scored a victory at the 2009 Rolex 24.
“The GT fields are so full these days that it’s really about getting that everything to fall into place at the optimum time – your tire pressures, the ability to get a good little slip stream or a tow and, at the same time, avoid getting blocked by guys who are trying to get situated or up to speed ahead of you. We almost got it all aligned, but the real positive emotion is that we had a really challenging day up until qualifying and our run got the train back on the track. To have a top-five starting position is a huge bonus, but we are mostly happy about getting things back situated where we were at the Roar Before the 24. We definitely have a positive outlook for Saturday and Sunday.
"They say you learn a lot about somebody when things aren’t going well, and it was great to see everybody kept their cool and we worked together and pulled things back together. John Horton, our engineer, was certainly digging deep on setup, and he got it all right where we wanted it to be. We even discussed throwing qualifying mentality out and just tuning on the car, and John said ‘No, no. I’ve got this. We’re gonna roll the dice and get what we need.’ And we did. So, we’re happy. I’m glad he took the initiative and said, ‘Let’s keep going.’”
Andrew Davis, qualifying for the #59 Brumos Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 14th position on the GT grid (last year’s pole-sitter) :
"Obviously disappointing not being able to backup our pole from last year with the Brumos Porsche 59. In practice earlier today we were struggling with grip and we made a bunch of changes for qualifying. The changes were good so I am glad we are moving the car in the right direction. It was a difficult qualifying session with traffic. We were mired back in the pack a bit. I was still able to get off some decent laps but not enough to find that time we needed. Super happy with the Brumos crew. They're working really hard. We'll just keep fighting to make the car better. While qualifying is always a nice little check to put in your box it's not the important thing. We're more focused on Sunday afternoon when the car has to be good. We have a stellar drive lineup and the Brumos 59 will be upfront in the end. Continued improvement is going to be what puts us there in the end."