Lando Norris and Paul di Resta took the first step on their preparations for the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January by testing with United Autosports at Paul Ricard in France this week.
McLaren Formula 1 youngster Norris and ex-Force India racer di Resta will form part of United Autosports’ two-car line-up for the 24-hour classic at Daytona, with the race acting as a sports car debut for both drivers.
As part of their preparations, Norris and di Resta took part in a private test with United Autosports in the team’s Ligier JS P217 at Paul Ricard this week, completing laps alongside existing team members Filipe Albuquerque and Philip Hanson.
The Rolex 24 will act as the first event in a busy year for Norris, with his expanded role as McLaren’s reserve and test driver confirmed and a full-season campaign in Formula 2 planned.
Di Resta is still to determine his racing plans, but is in the running for a return to F1 full-time with Williams after an impressive stand-in appearance in Hungary when Felipe Massa became unwell.
Norris and di Resta will be joined at Daytona by two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso, who will make his sports car debut in the Rolex 24 ahead of a possibe shot at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Joel Eriksson snatched pole position for Saturday’s qualifying race ahead of the Macau Grand Prix after a thrilling fight with McLaren youngster Lando Norris and Ferrari junior Callum Ilott.
Norris headed into the second stage of qualifying on provisional pole after lapping almost a second faster than any other driver in Thursday’s first opening session, and remained in contention early in Q2.
Norris was the first driver to dip into the 2:10s with a time of 2:10.744, only for Eriksson to go 0.024 seconds faster minutes later and snatch pole away.
Despite a later effort to try and reclaim pole, Norris was unable to improve his time, and opted to remain in the pits for the final five minutes of the session after using up his allocated tires.
Ilott was the final driver to put in a serious bid for pole position, falling 0.09 seconds short with his final qualifying lap to sit third on the grid for the qualifying race.
Maximilian Gunther claimed fourth place for Prema Powerteam ahead of Ferdinand Habsburg and Dan Ticktum, with Mick Schumacher taking P7.
Yuhi Sekiguchi wound up eighth despite a late crash that brought out a red flag, while Sergio Sette Camara and Guanyu Zhou completed the top 10 positions in qualifying.
Saturday’s qualifying race will help form the grid for Sunday’s main event, the 64th Macau Grand Prix.