Previewing the 2011 Daytona 24 Hours

Jorg Bergmeister secured a surprise pole at Daytona. ©

For many in the world of motor racing, January represents something of a lull period.

With the silence that follows post-season testing comes an almost endless period of rolling rumours and stories. Virtually anything to keep motorsport somewhere in the news stream counts.
Christmas and the New Year become yet another distant memory – blurred in some cases – leaving January to feel like a month more akin to car unveiling’s, rather than a period that presents any kind of competitive allure. It is a month that also brings three of the finest motor racing events to the fore. Two of these have already run their particular (the Monte Carlo and Dakar Rallies) and this weekend brings the final event of the month – the 24 Hours of Daytona.

This is to be the 49th running of the sportscar endurance special, which will also open the 2011 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Sixteen Daytona Prototypes are to run on the famed Floridian circuit come Saturday evening, as well as a large field of GT entries. Utilising the Daytona’s twelve-turn road course, the Rolex-sponsored race has become a staple event in the early part of the year and has in the past boasted a number of illustrious victors – including the likes of Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, Mario Andretti, Jacky Ickx, AJ Foyt, Al Unser (Senior and Junior), Juan-Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti amongst a whole host of others.
The race is one of the few events in the motor racing world that brings together competitors from multiple series’.

2011 sees multiple cars in the Daytona Prototype category from Chip Ganassi, Michael Shank Racing, Action Express Racing and Starworks Motorsport – all of whom are powered by a variety of Porsche, Chevrolet, BMW or Ford engines. Several other teams will be running single car entries.

Over the years, Porsche have reigned supreme at Daytona with 22 victories, but it was still quite a surprise when Jorg Bergmeister claimed the pole for the German manufacturer. The (mainly GT) team is making its Daytona Prototype début this year and with Patrick Long, Seth Neimann and Johannes van Overbeek also riding in the cockpit, it will be interesting if they can maintain their unexpected advantage over a full 24 hours. In claiming the top spot, Bergmeister broke the lap record for the Daytona road course.
Bergmeister was still able to qualify his Flying Lizard’s prepared car just 0.34 of-a-second quicker than the Chevrolet-powered Dallara piloted by SunTrust Racing’s Max Angelelli. The Italian driver was a winner of this event in 2005 and with Ryan Briscoe, Rick and Wayne Taylor alongside, he will be looking to challenge once again. Angelelli took pole in 2010; however that turned into only a 6th place finish.
Ganassi Racing’s secondary team consisting of Scott Pruett, Graham Rahal, Joey Hand and Memo Rojas will line up 3rd in their BMW-Riley, while the Ford-powered Starworks Motorsport Riley machine is next up in 4th. The primary Ganassi team (with Scott Dixon, Jamie McMurray, Montoya and Franchitti) will start 5th.
Daytona débutantes United Autosport placed their Ford-Riley in 9th place with ex-Formula 1 racer Martin Brundle at the wheel, while last year’s winning entry – the Action Express Racing Porsche driven by João Barbosa could do no better than 12th on the grid.
Andy Lally also broke the qualifying record in the GT class, claiming pole for the TRG Porsche GT3 squad. Lally took the spot by some 0.3 of-a-second ahead of the next TRG Porsche GT3 machine piloted by Dominik Farnbacher.

Green flag for the 24 Hours of Daytona is at 8.30pm (GMT) and will – of course – finish twenty-four hours later.

Pos Class Driver Team Car Time
1. DP Jorg Bergmeister Flying Lizards Motorsports Porsche Riley 1:40.099
2. DP Max Angelelli SunTrust Racing Chevrolet Dallara 1:40.133
3. DP Scott Pruett Chip Ganassi Racing w/F.Sabates BMW Riley 1:40.245
4. DP Ryan Dalziel Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley 1:40.250
5. DP Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing w/F.Sabates BMW Riley 1:40.302
6. DP Antonio Garcia Spirit of Daytona Racing Chevrolet Coyote 1:40.396
7. DP Brian Frisselle Doran Racing Ford Dallara 1:40.468
8. DP AJ Allmendinger Michael Shank Racing w/Curb,Agajania Ford Dallara 1:40.469
9. DP Martin Brundle United Autosports w/MSR Ford Riley 1:40.784
10. DP Alex Gurney Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley 1:40.828
11. DP Oswaldo Negri Jr Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley 1:40.847
12. DP Joao Barbosa Action Express Racing Porsche Riley 1:41.128
13. DP Darren Law Action Express Racing Porsche Riley 1:41.240
14. DP Jan Heylen Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley 1:41.288
15. DP Ricardo Zonta Krohn Racing Ford Lola 1:41.695
16. DP Enzo Potoliccio Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley 1:44.111
17. GT Andy Lally TRG Porsche GT3 Cup 1:48.487
18. GT Dominik Farnbacher TRG Porsche GT3 Cup 1:48.781
19. GT Jordan Taylor Autohaus Motorsports Camaro GT.R 1:48.821
20. GT Craig Stanton Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 Cup 1:49.011
21. GT Nick Tandy Burtin Racing Porsche GT3 Cup 1:49.134
22. GT Shane Lewis Chris Smith Racing Porsche GT3 Cup 1:49.297
23. GT Ryan Eversley TRG Porsche GT3 Cup 1:49.451
24. GT Robin Liddell Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R 1:49.472
25. GT Boris Said Turner Motorsport BMW M3 1:49.503
26. GT Andrew Davis Brumos Racing Porsche GT3 Cup 1:49.540
27. GT Jeroen Bleekemolen TRG/Black Swan Racing/GMG Racing Porsche GT3 Cup 1:49.554
28. GT Darryl O’Young Bullet Racing Porsche GT3 Cup 1:49.707
29. GT Bryce Miller Paul Miller Racing Porsche GT3 Cup 1:49.916
30. GT Wayne Nonnamaker Team Sahlen Mazda RX-8 1:49.961
31. GT Charles Espenlaub Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 1:49.974
32. GT Sylvain Tremblay SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 1:50.020
33. GT Jeff Segal SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 1:50.064
34. GT Ryan Lewis PR1 Motorsports BMW M6 1:50.135
35. GT James Gue Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 1:50.178
36. GT Oliver Gavin Banner Racing Camaro GT.R 1:50.300
37. GT Randy Pobst Mitchum Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup 1:51.139
38. GT Peter Ludwig Muehlner Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup 1:51.305
39. GT David Empringham TPN Racing/Blackforest Ford Mustang 1:51.528
40. GT Justin Marks Yellow Dragon Motorsports Mazda RX-8 1:51.847
41. GT Ken Dobson TRG/Nadeau Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup 1:51.983
42. GT JF Dumoulin Bennett Racing Ferrari F430 CH 1:51.996
43. GT Cort Wagner DragonSpeed Ferrari F430 CH 1:53.639
44. GT Rich Grupp Team Spencer Motorsports Mazda RX-8 1:54.184
45. GT Joe Sahlen Team Sahlen Mazda RX-8 1:55.203
46. GT Maurice Hull Rick Ware Racing Porsche GT3 Cup 1:57.478

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