DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – “Drivers, start your engines” may be the most famous words in motorsports, but “And … it’s a new track record,” is pretty close behind.
Sunday at Daytona Int’l Speedway, there was another – albeit unofficial – new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship track record.
In the 15-minute Daytona Prototype international qualifying session for Rolex 24 At Daytona garage and pit selections, Oliver Jarvis drove the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P to a lap of one minute, 33.398 seconds (137.212 mph).
Jarvis’ lap was more than half a second quicker than the 26-year-old track record of 1:33.875 (136.521 mph) set by PJ Jones in the No. 98 Toyota Eagle MKIII.
If he – or anybody else – does it again or goes even quicker in Rolex 24 qualifying on Thursday, Jan. 24, they’ll go into the record books officially.
“The car was an absolute joy to drive,” Jarvis said. “We ran it full qualy spec. I don’t think many of our competitors can say the same, but in that low-fuel configuration, it felt incredible. You could really push the car to the limits and it’s what us drivers live for, that feeling of getting everything out of the car.”
In LMP2 qualifying, Gabriel Aubry posted the fastest time in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA at 1:35.930 (133.591 mph).
The Roar was Aubry’s first exposure to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway and this weekend was just the Frenchman’s second visit to the United States.
For the second consecutive WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class qualifying session, Jan Magnussen led the way. The now two-time and defending GTLM co-champion led the 15-minute session with a best lap of 1:42.651 (124.844 mph) in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.
The Danish racer remarked, after Sunday’s session to set garage and pit selections for Rolex 24 race week, that the Corvette team employed the same strategy it used to put Magnussen and the No. 3 Corvette on the pole for the 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Sunday’s lap was a tenth of a second quicker than Magnussen’s pole-winning time of 1:42.779 from last January.
“We did exactly the same as we did last year where we agreed who was going to tow who,” Magnussen explained. “It was me again like in race qualifying last year. That gave us a good top-speed advantage in that session. Olly (Gavin) did a fantastic job placing himself at the right distance out of Turn 6 [in the No. 4 Corvette] so I could take full advantage of the tow down to the Bus Stop and then go by him at start/finish to get the fastest lap.
“We did the exact same thing at the Roar and the race last year, so I don’t really know why everyone else isn’t doing the exact same thing. But it seems we’re the only one doing it at the moment, and it’s working out really well for us.”