Acura takes the first pillar of the LMDh/GTP era, Porsche crashes

Acura takes the first pillar of the LMDh/GTP era, Porsche crashes

( – Acura made history: Honda’s American offshoot secured the first ever LMDh/GTP era qualifying for the 2023 Daytona 24 Hours! The circumstances in which Tom Blomqvist grabbed the pole in the #60 Meyer-Shank Acura could not have been more exciting.

Tom Blomqvist earned Acura’s first pole in the LMDh era


The Brit got help from teammate Nick Tandy, who pushed the #6 Penske-Porsche into the tire barriers at the Daytona chicane. There was an error and for a long time it looked like a good place for another Acura, the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing. But two minutes before the end, the race control gave another session.

A very exciting shootout followed, where one final round was crucial. Blomqvist kept his composure and settled for a time of 1:34.031 minutes. Behind him, Felipe Nasr beat the #7 Penske Porsche to second place at the very last second.

Tom Blomqvist ‘had to win a bit’

Ricky Taylor, who made it without a final shot, was “only” third at the end ahead of Sebastien Bourdais in the #01 Ganassi Cadillac, Alex Lynn in the #02 Ganassi Cadillac and Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani in the Action Express Cadillac #. 31. The two RLL-BMWs had to settle for seventh and eighth place.

“It was a bit wild,” Blomqvist recalls. “I didn’t have the lead to be honest. I had to overcome that a little bit. I had a good car and I was able to do the job. Great job from HPD-Acura, my MSR team, Oreca. They have built a really good car. That’s very promising for the weekend next, but we have 24 hours before we think about going back.”

In the LMP2 class, the session ended prematurely due to a crash involving the #8 Tower Oreca and the #55 Proton Oreca, Ben Keating won in the PR1 Oreca #52. The Brit completed the lap in 1:40.541 minutes. Best time in the LMP3 class went to Nico Pino in Creech-Ligier #33 with a time of 1:43.197 minutes.

Four Mercedes-AMG Poles in the GT classes

“All Mercedes-AMGs, or what?!” is the motto in GTD classes. The qualifying for the GT3 cars became a spectacle for the people from Affalterbach. Maro Engel in WeatherTech-Mercedes #79 won the GTD Pro class with a time of 1:46.784. In the general GT classification, however, that was enough for fourth place!

Because three other AMG drivers from the “regular” GTD class were faster: Philip Ellis in the #57 Winward-Mercedes came out on top with 1:46.093 minutes. Behind them were Fabian Schiller in SunEnergy1-Mercedes #75 and Mikael Grenier in Korthoff-Mercedes #32. Ross Gunn completes the top five in the #23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin.

“Definitely a good start,” says Engel. “It’s good to put the car on pole. Hopefully we can stay in that position for 24 hours. It’s impossible, but hopefully we’ll be there again at the end. I pushed hard and I wanted to get the best out of him. To be honest. I’m not really satisfied.”

Phillip Ellis

Philip Ellis and Mercedes-AMG were in a class of their own in GTD qualifying zoom

“You’ve seen the times. Several guys in the same material have done a better job. But we still have a little time to do better. In any case, it’s a good starting point and good work from everyone.”

Crash test: Acura becomes favorite

Even before qualifying for the 2023 24 Hours of Daytona, a total of five sessions were held as part of Roar testing, giving the 61 participants nearly eight hours of driving time. The new LMDh cars were admired for their reliability. Acura, BMW, Cadillac and Porsche only struggled with minor ailments.

The two American-based Hondas emerged as the best in the grueling test, leading four of the five dry spells. #60 Meyer Shank Racing is tied in the standings ahead of #10 Wayne Taylor Racing but only in P2, as the Porsche had the best time of the week in the extra session before qualifying.

Colin Braun set a best Acura time of 1m35.038s, with Brendon Hartley 0.118s behind for WTR. But what do times mean in Roar test drives? The doubt is that no manufacturer has revealed their cards yet, especially since the LMDh prototypes are now BoP formula.

In the Acura camp, Meyer Shank Racing struggled in the second session with a throttle that wouldn’t come out and in the third session with brake problems. Another team, Wayne Taylor Racing, changed the fuel pump at the start of FT3. As a result, the team lost half of the trial period, i.e. about 45 minutes.

Porsche improves during Daytona testing

Porsche improved during the test and turned the fastest lap of the Roar test drives just before qualifying. Felipe Nasr was the only driver in the test who was able to break the 1:35 minute mark with his best time of 1:34.926 minutes. In addition, Nick Tandy placed the sister car #6 in fourth place.

In the second half, the #6 Porsche was only able to complete nine laps. Dane Cameron did not want to give further details in an interview with ‘IMSA Radio’. However, ‘Sportscar365’ noticed that there were problems with the front left wheel bearing.

The third fastest manufacturer in Roar test drives was BMW. The RLL team fielded two M Hybrid V8s in fifth and seventh, missing the lead by nearly half a second. The LMDh models from BMW survived without any problems, apart from Philipp Eng’s lathe.

Philip Nasr

Felipe Nasr misses the Daytona pole for Porsche zoom

The Cadillac was the slowest. The three roaring V8 racers finished sixth, eighth and ninth with an average gap of nearly sixteen. The start of testing did not go according to plan, at least for the #31 Action Express car. The car driven by “Pipo” Derani, Alexander Sims and Jack Aitken was only able to complete four laps of the installation. ‘Sportscar365’ cites shifting problems as the reason for this.

Ben Hanley set the fastest time in the LMP2 class in APR-Oreca #4, Dakota Dickerson in Andretti-Ligier #36 was undefeated in the LMP3 category. Ben Barnicoat in the #14 Vasser-Sullivan Lexus set the bar in GTD Pro. However, GTD driver Frederik Scharndorff was a tenth faster than Barnicoat in the Inception McLaren #70.

Roar before 24 – Joint Order after six free sessions:

1. Porsche #7 (Nasr/Christensen/Campbell) 1:34.926 minutes (127 laps)
2. Acura #60 (Castroneves/Pagenaud/Blomqvist/Brown) +0.112 seconds (113 laps)
3. Acura #10 (Hartley/Albuquerque/Taylor/Deletraz) +0.230 seconds (123 laps)
4. Porsche #6 (Tandy/Jaminet/Cameron) +0.302 seconds (132 laps)
5. BMW #24 (Farfus/Eng/Wittmann/Herta) +0.446 seconds (132 laps)
6. Cadillac #31 (Derani/Sims/Aitken) +0.516 seconds (129 laps)
7. BMW #25 (de Phillippi/Yelloly/van der Linde/Herta) +0.532 seconds (138 laps)
8. Cadillac #01 (Bourdais/van der Zande/Dixon) +0.659 seconds (109 laps)
9. Cadillac #02 (Bamber/Lynn/Westbrook) +0.730 seconds (128 laps)