The Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs didn’t leave pitlane until just before the halfway mark in the DPi class’s 15min session, by which time the Acuras were already in the 1min19sec zone, Wayne Taylor Racing’s Ricky Taylor a tenth quicker than Tom Blomqvist in the Meyer Shank Racing machine. Taylor had just had time to extend that margin to almost half a second, when Sebastien Bourdais delivered a 1min19.017 to put Cadillac on top.
Taylor’s first response drew him to within 0.033sec of the Ganassi car, but couldn’t knock it off the top, even when Bourdais struck the Turn 2 wall trying to improve his time. In fact, it was Blomqvist, a first-timer ont his track, who found the speed from the Acura ARX-05 to beat Bourdais and duck down under the 1min19sec barrier.
But Bourdais, having checked his car wasn’t damaged from the Turn 2 wall-brush, delivered a 1min18.818sec lap to shade Blomqvist by 0.110sec, and beat teammate Alex Lynn by half a second. Then as he tried to improve still further, Bourdais lost the rear end of his car, but somehow kept it off the wall, backed up, and then drove to the pits to celebrate.
A late improvement saw series returnee Olivier Pla in the Action Express Racing Cadillac pip Tristan Vautier’s JDC Miller MOtorSports car, but the pair were 1.5sec behind the polesitter
An equally thrilling battle for GT Daytona honors could have gone one of four ways, as the two Vasser Sullivan Racing Lexus RC Fs of Kyle Kirkwood and Frankie Montecalvo faced up to the challenge of Madison Snow in the BMW M4 of Paul Miller Racing, and Roman De Angelis in the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage.
All four were chipping away tenths and then hundredths right up until the checkered flag, when Kirkwood made a final improvement to 1min29.096sec that put him 0.118sec beyond the reach of the opposition. Kirkwood, who is pulling double-duty this weekend and who set fastest time in this afternoon’s IndyCar practice session, now has two IMSA GTD poles to his name.
De Angelis was next up, mere hundredths ahead of Snow, with Montecalvo fourth yet only 0.2sec behind his Lexus teammate.
Aidan Read in the Rick Ware Racing Acura NSX was best of the rest, ahead of Robert Megennis in the Carbahn with Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracan.
Russell Ward’s Winward Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 edged the similar car of Team Korthoff driven by Stevan McAleer, while Robby Foley was a disappointing ninth in the Turner Motorsports BMW after suffering a trip down the Turn 3 escape road. Ryan Hardwick was 10th in the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.