DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A strange day of qualifying produced four surprise class polesitters, an abnormal order of qualifying times and a jumbled grid for Saturday’s 54th Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The GT Le Mans class produced the fastest lap times during qualifying and thus Nick Tandy, who came off a barnstorming 2015 international sports car racing season, wound up setting the fastest time of the afternoon on a wet track of 2:01.408 in his No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR.
However, owing to a rule in the 2016 IMSA Rulebook – Rule 40.1.4 – the wet track and the declaration of variable conditions by Race Director Beaux Barfield meant the grid order would be in this class order: P, PC, GTLM and GTD.
It means Russian driver Mikhail Aleshin in the No. 37 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR01 Nissan has the top starting position for Saturday’s race, despite only setting the ninth fastest time overall of 2:05.793.
Even quirkier is the fact Aleshin was not the fastest prototype driver although he was the fastest driver in the Prototype class.
That honor went to Johnny Mowlem of BAR1 Motorsports, who claimed his second straight Rolex 24 pole position in the Prototype Challenge class, and set a slightly faster lap time of 2:05.708.
GT Daytona was the only somewhat straightforward class and saw Norbert Siedler secure the top spot, in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, at 2:05.798.
However, the grid order will be done by class, P, PC, GTLM and GTD, from the produced laptimes.