Ready for the ultimate Rolex battle

January 27, 2017

Ready for the ultimate Rolex battle

January 27, 2017

Practice and qualifying is run and done and now the stars and cars in the GTLM class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship are going through their final preparations for tomorrow’ Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Last year’s amazing Corvette Racing 1-2 finish proved while qualifying may be important for generating headlines, it doesn’t necessarily have a major impact on the result.

The two Corvettes last year only qualified seventh and eighth but 24 hours later battled out an incredible fight with the No.4 car of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler winning by a matter of inches.


“This race is long and tough with many hurdles that will be thrown in front of us,” Gavin said.

“No, we aren’t exactly where we want to be. But we know there are many things that we can do to change our position. We will be pushing just as hard as we always do to try and get that Corvette win like we did last year.”

Ferrari squad Risi Competizione finished 2016 in the best possible way with victory at Petit Le Mans. They were strong yesterday in qualifying as the “best of the rest” in fourth behind a trio of Ford’s at the front of the pack.


“We did some testing prior to the race, the mid-December test, and we did the Roar (Test),” said Risi’s Toni Vilander.

“I spent quite a lot of time in the car. But it’s difficult here, the track condition changes a little bit each time. The session before qualifying I felt a little bit more confidence in the car.

“In qualifying the balance changed a little bit so we will do a little setup work, with the engineer, as it is all part of preparing for the race. We are quite happy with P4. We will keep analysing the data.”

Like Le Mans last year, Ford have arrived at the Rolex 24 this year with its full four-car line-up – two IMSA championship entries plus their two FIA World Endurance Championship machines.

They were incredibly strong all day yesterday – leading every session, taking pole with Joey Hand and then again leading the times in final practice today.


“Racing is a lot about momentum,” Hand said.

“You can say what you want about luck or whatever, but momentum is a big thing. We had good momentum coming out of last year.

“Dirk and I didn’t have all the results we wanted in the IMSA season, but we had that big win at Le Mans.

“I’m still riding that wave pretty good and I wanted to try to keep that going here. It worked out. We’re on the pole here at Rolex 24 and I think I definitely have the right team and right partners.”

This year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona will feature the debut of the new Porsche 911 RSR. After years of competition with their traditional rear engine lay-out – the 2017 GTLM machine has the engine moved forward in front of the rear axle.


“Qualifying wasn’t easy. We didn’t have the time we needed to find the best setup for this racetrack,” Porsche’s Patrick Pilet said.

“We’re focussing on the race. And the race setup that we developed during testing back in early January feels good.”

BMW will be looking for a better result in race conditions after a disappointing day in qualifying yesterday. The two BMW M6 GTLM only qualified 10th and 11th.


“It’s not ideal, because what we’ve got now we’ve got for 24 hours,” BMW’s Bill Auberlen said.

“This pace isn’t showing the quality of this team. The driver line-up around me is amazing. Even if the odds aren’t in our favor, we’ll do everything we can to get a good result.”

Tomorrow’s Rolex 24 at Daytona will greet the green flat at 2:30pm.

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