WEC: Porsche storms to 1-2-3 in 6 Hours of Spa qualifying

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Porsche sent out a strong statement of intent in qualifying for the second round of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday by securing the top three positions on the grid ahead of tomorrow’s six hour race.

The German marque displayed a good pace throughout pre-season testing at Paul Ricard in France, and put its superior, straight-line speed to good use through the Ardennes forest in qualifying.

After a wet Thursday practice, conditions were dry and cool on Friday, allowing the drivers to smash the WEC lap record at Spa-Francorchamps by four seconds.

Porsche remained in control for the entire session, and it was the No. 17 car of Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley which secured pole position. Mark Webber will join the duo for the race on Sunday.

Joining the No. 17 on the front row is Porsche’s third car entry for Spa, the No. 19, piloted by Nick Tandy and Force India F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg. The German will start his first ever WEC race from second place on the grid ahead of the no. 18 of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb.

Audi was unable to answer the pace shown by Porsche on Friday, finishing seven tenths of a second adrift of pole position. The No. 7 of Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer will start fourth on Saturday ahead of the No. 8 of Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis.

Toyota’s miserable weekend continued in qualifying as the No. 1 car of Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson – reduced to a two-man effort after Kazuki Nakajima’s crash in practice – finished sixth ahead of the sister No. 2 car in seventh place. Audi’s third car, the No. 9, will start eighth.

G-Drive resumed normal service in LMP2 by claiming class pole with the No. 26 of Roman Rusinov, Julien Canal and Sam Bird. KCMG will start from second in class with the No. 47 ahead of Team SARD Morand’s no. 43 and the second G-Drive car in fourth place.

Aston Martin Racing’s strong showing in GTE Pro at Spa continued in qualifying as the No. 99 of Fernando Rees, Alex MacDowell and Richie Stanaway edged out Ferrari’s AF Corse team for pole position by just 0.070 seconds. Defending WEC champions Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander will start from second place on the grid ahead of the No. 97 AMR car of Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and Rob Bell.

In GTE Am, there was yet more delight for AMR as Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda claimed the class pole position, beating the Larbre Competition Chevrolet by 1.1 seconds at the top of the timesheets.

For the complete results from qualifying, click here.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.