Penske Racing

Porsche tackles Daytona 24 Hours from third on the grid

January 21, 2024

  • Porsche Penske Motorsport secures a strong grid position
  • Porsche 963 customers unlucky in qualifying
  • Porsche 911 GT3 R on pole position in GTD-Pro class
  • Klaus Bachler plants MDK Motorsports’ 911 on P2 in the GTD class
  • IMSA season opener starts next Saturday at 1:40 pm local time

The best Porsche 963 of the Porsche Penske Motorsport factory squad heads into the 24 Hours of Daytona from the second grid row. In qualifying for the opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Felipe Nasr from Brazil set the third-quickest lap time at the wheel of the No. 7 car. In the No. 6 sister car, his Porsche colleague Nick Tandy from Britain wrapped up the qualifying session in the US state of Florida on P7. In the GT classes, the Porsche 911 GT3 R put in a strong drive to score pole position and second place.

Stuttgart. Under cloudy skies and in cool temperatures, the conditions at the Daytona International Speedway were ideal for a nail-biting qualifying day. The 15-minute qualifying session for the top GTP class concluded without incident. As tyre temperatures rose, the 500+ kW (680 PS) LMDh cars picked up the pace and broke the previous Daytona lap record for prototypes. During his eight laps out on the track, works driver Felipe Nasr continued to improve. Clocking 1:32.876 minutes in the No. 7 Porsche 963, the Brazilian secured the third grid spot. Le Mans winner Nick Tandy was unable to improve in the decisive final lap and had to settle for seventh place at the wheel of the No. 6 car.

"We would’ve loved to have secured pole position, but unfortunately that didn’t quite work out. Congratulations to Cadillac. Their crew simply did it better," comments Urs Kuratle, Director of Factory Racing LMDh. "We didn’t make any mistakes. All teams were very close together. I think we have a decent grid position for the race. After all, the event runs over 24 hours, so anything is possible. The forecast for the race weekend is for warmer temperatures. We’re ready for this and so we’re feeling optimistic for the season opener."

"The drivers in our two Porsche 963 did a great job, and so did the entire crew. Felipe turned the third quickest time," summarises Jonathan Diuguid. The Managing Director Porsche Penske Motorsport adds: "Even though the sister car is only seventh on the grid, I’m confident that we managed to achieve a good starting position. The drivers are very happy with the car’s handling in race trim. So I’m feeling positive about the 24-hour event."

Proton Competition and JDC-Miller MotorSports achieve a solid result
Heading into the new IMSA season, luck eluded the Porsche 963 customer teams on Sunday. Dutchman Tijmen van der Helm concluded the qualifying session in ninth place at the wheel of the JDC-Miller MotorSports car. The identical Proton Competition car remained in the garage during the session: Swiss driver Neel Jani was involved in an accident during a brief test session before qualifying. The repairs needed prevented him from taking part in the qualifying session.

GT classes: Pole position and P2 for the Porsche 911 GT3 R
In the two GT categories, the ca. 415 kW (565 PS) 911 GT3 R put in impressive qualifying performances. UK driver Sebastian Priaulx set the fastest lap time in the GTD Pro class with a time of 1:44.382 minutes. AO Racing’s 911, dubbed "Rexy" due to its bright green dinosaur livery, tackles the 24-hour race from pole position. In the GTD category, Klaus Bachler lines up on the grid in second place in the Porsche fielded by the customer team MDK Motorsports. The Austrian was just 0.043 seconds off pole position. The identical 911 GT3 R fielded by Andretti Motorsports and Wright Motorsports wrapped up the qualifying session in twelfth and 19th respectively. American David Brule had an accident at the wheel of Kellymoss with Riley's No. 92 car on the warm-up lap. As a result, the American team has to start the race from the back of the field.

Four more practice sessions before the endurance classic kicks off
Next Thursday and Friday (25/26 January), four more practice sessions are scheduled for the teams and their 59 cars. The 62nd running of the 24 Hours of Daytona starts on Saturday (27 January) at 1:40 pm local time (7:40 pm CET). The opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is part of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, which also includes the endurance races at Sebring, Watkins Glen, Indianapolis and the “Petit Le Mans” at Road Atlanta.

Drivers’ comments after the qualifying
Nick Tandy (Porsche 963 #6): "Cadillac was incredibly strong, which surprised me a little. Still, we want to win the race – not the qualifying. In Daytona, it’s all about being the fastest in the final and decisive phase next Sunday. We’re contesting an endurance race here, and the focus is always on reaching the finish. Our cars are running flawlessly. We’ve worked hard over the winter and we’re seeing the results. I’m heading into the upcoming race week feeling good."

Felipe Nasr (Porsche 963 #7): "Third place is okay. I got everything I could out of our car today. The crew did a great job. I’m totally convinced that we’re contesting the race with a strong package. We’ll continue to focus on working on consistency over long distances in the upcoming practice sessions starting on Thursday. We need to be perfectly prepared to be in the fight for victory next weekend."

Qualifying result:
GTP class:
1. Derani/Aitken/Blomqvist (BR/UK/UK), Cadillac #31, 1:32.656 minutes
2. Van der Zande/Bourdais/Dixon/Palou (NL/F/NZ/E), Cadillac #01, 1:32.727 minutes
3. Cameron/Nasr/Campbell/Newgarden (USA/BR/AUS/USA), Porsche 963 #7, 1:32.876 minutes
7. Tandy/Jaminet/Estre/Vanthoor (UK/F/F/B), Porsche 963 #6, 1:33.381 minutes
9. Van der Helm/Westbrook/Hanson/Keating (NL/UK/UK/USA), Porsche 963 #85, 1:33.506 minutes
10. Bruni/Jani/Picariello/Dumas (I/CH/B/F), Porsche 963 #5, no lap time

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