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Cadillac DPi-V.Rs Sweep Front Row for Rolex 24 As Barbosa Takes Pole
Posted by: ASkyler on Jan 27, 2017 - 03:41 AM
Feature Articles
Cadillac DPi-V.Rs Sweep Front Row for Rolex 24 As Barbosa Takes Pole

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Steven Cole Smith, IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Despite a test in December followed by the Roar Before the Rolex 24 after the New Year, it wasn’t clear who would be fastest in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s premier class, Prototype (P), when they hit the track this weekend.

Sometimes teams and drivers are reluctant to show their hand too early, a game of motorsports poker that is especially telling in this case. For the first time in WeatherTech Championship history, the P-class cars are all-new for 2017. And they finally showed what they are capable of Thursday afternoon in qualifying for the 2017 Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance race that will be broadcast on FOX at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday.


In those pre-season practice days, the No. 13 Rebellion ORECA was consistently the quickest, but in qualifying, driver Neel Jani was only able to run the third-quickest lap.

The quickest two cars? The two-car team formerly known as Action Express Racing, which won the WeatherTech Championship Prototype title all three years since the series was formed, gave the new Cadillac V-8 engine the front row in its first time out. On the pole was the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPI-V.R driven by Joao Barbosa with a blistering lap of 1:36.903.

Right behind Barbosa was Dane Cameron, driver of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac, just 0.070 seconds back. And third was the Rebellion car, thanks to Jani’s best lap of 1:37.123. Fourth was the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac of Ricky Taylor, who had the fastest car for most of the qualifying session before pitting before time ran out. NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon will serve as a co-driver on the No. 10.

Barbosa, who hasn’t qualified on a WeatherTech Championship pole since 2014, was a bit surprised. “We generally race better than we qualify,” he said, which could be a cautionary warning to the rest of the field. “This is going to be a tremendous race with the new Prototypes.”

There are 12 cars in the Prototype field – there were 11 qualifiers, as the very fast No. 81 DragonSpeed ORECA uncharacteristically crashed in practice earlier in the day with Loic Duval behind the wheel, and couldn’t be fixed by qualifying.

The Prototype Challenge (PC) class is making its final appearance at the Rolex 24 before it is discontinued at the end of the season.

James French was fastest in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09, with a lap of 1:42.559. Second was veteran Johnny Mowlem in the No. 26 BAR1 entry with a best lap of 1:43.396, snapping Mowlem’s Rolex 24 pole-winning streak at two consecutive races. Third was 1994 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice with a lap of 1:43.515 in the second BAR1 car.

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