DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Oliver Jarvis made sure the Mazda Prototype team will start from the pole for the season opening Rolex 24 and he did so in record fashion.
Jarvis, behind the wheel of the No. 77 Castrol Mazda Prototype, earned the pole for the twice around the clock classic with a record lap of 1:33.685 at 136.792 mph around Daytona Int’l Speedway’s 3.56-mile road course.
The previous record was set by P.J. Jones in 1993 when he ran a best lap of 1:33.875 in a Toyota Eagle MKIII fielded by Dan Gurney.
Jarvis’ time led both the overall field and the headlining DPi class. He’ll share the No. 77 entry with Tristan Nunez, Timo Bernhard and Rene Rast.
Starting alongside Jarvis on the front row will be the No. 7 Team Penske Acura DPi. Ricky Taylor qualified the car at 1:33.873/136.518. He’ll share the No. 7 with Indianapolis 500 winners Alexander Rossi and Helio Castroneves.
Jarvis’ efforts on Thursday were not surprising. Mazda dominated the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test session earlier this month, with Jarvis posting the fastest time of the three-day gathering.
“This has been a serious effort … to put it all together,” Jarvis said. “To put it on pole, I think it represents what we’re here to do. We’re here to show that we’re capable of winning races.
“We’re very happy, there’s a great cohesion in the team, we’ve got some fantastic partners and we’re just working more together. We’re enjoying our racing. … But Daytona is about staying out of trouble. We’re going to try and do that and then the last four hours we want to put ourselves in a position to win it. That’s the goal for sure.”
The No. 6 Team Penske Acura DPi driven by Juan Pablo Montoya will start the 24-hour race from third, followed by the second Mazda Prototype driven by Jonathan Bomarito in fourth. The fastest of the Cadillac entries was Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. entry in fifth.
In the LMP2 class, James Allen put the No. 81 ORECA LMP2 on the pole with a best lap of 1:35.904 lap at 133.627 mph. He shares the No. 81 with Nicolas Lapierre, Ben Hanley and Henrik Hedman.
“That was really good, quite the ride,” said Allen. “I trust the team to build the car up to last the 24 hours. It should be good, its good, year.”
In GT Le Mans, Nick Tandy broke the GT Le Mans track record in the No. 911 Porsche 911 with his best lap of 1:42.257 at 125.325 mph. Former track record holder Jan Magnussen qualified second for Corvette Racing.
“We knew the Vettes were going to be together, so it creates a double kind of draft,” Tandy said. “Then I got the perfect tow, the perfect slipstream down the front straight, obviously with the pair of them in front. I was watching the lap time in the car and thought this was going to be a good one. It was probably worth a half second or so.”
Finally, in GT Daytona, Marcos Gomes raced to the pole in the No. 13 Ferrari 488 GT3 he’ll co-drive with Chico Longo, Victor Franzoni and Andrea Bertolini.
“It’s my third time driving at Daytona, I’m getting better all of the times I’ve got in the track,” Gomes said. “The GTD class is the most difficult because we have the most cars, and it’s the most competitive, too, and to fight for the win on Saturday and Sunday will be very difficult for all the drivers and all the teams in the class.”