- Tom Blomqvist’s final-lap effort secures the Rolex 24 pole for the hybrid-powered Acura ARX-06 in first event of new GTP era
- Ricky Taylor qualifies third in the Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura
- Acura seeking its third consecutive Rolex 24 win next weekend in Daytona Beach
Defending Rolex 24 at Daytona and series champions – Acura and Meyer Shank Racing – got their 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season off to a strong start Sunday, with driver Tom Blomqvist putting together a last-lap “flyer” in qualifying aboard his electrified Acura ARX-06 to claim the pole for next weekend’s 61st running of the 24-hour endurance race at Daytona International Speedway.
The qualifying session capped a weekend of full-field IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship testing, known as “The Roar Before the 24” and set the grid for the 61-car field that will be running next weekend’s twice-around-the-clock endurance contest.
In a session marked by a brief stoppage to clear debris from another competitor’s crash, Blomqvist took advantage of a fresh set of Michelin tires to vault to pole as the checkered flag fell to end the 15-minute qualifying. The pole position is the first for any manufacturer in the new hybrid-powered GTP era of IMSA competition, and the second consecutive pole at Daytona for Acura.
Last year’s pole qualifier, Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport, will start third. Driver Ricky Taylor led the opening half of qualifying, but his team elected to use only one set of tires for qualifying, and Taylor remained in pit lane with the qualifying resumed, dropping from first to third in the final minutes of the session.
Acura NSX GT3 Evo22
In the production-based GTD category, Racers Edge Motorsports and Gradient Racing will start fourth and fifth in the strong, 25-car field. Kyle Marcelli piloted the #93 Racers Edge Acura to fourth, with Mario Farnbacher just behind in his Gradient Racing NSX.
Rolex 24 Qualifying Results
- Pole Qualifier - #60 Tom Blomqvist, Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06. Co-drivers for the Rolex 24 are Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud.
- 3rd overall - #10 Ricky Taylor, Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06. Co-drivers will be Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz and Brendon Hartley.
- 4th GTD - #93 Kyle Marcelli, Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR Acura NSX GT3 Evo22. Co-drivers include Ashton Harrison, Danny Formal and Ryan Briscoe.
- 5th GTD - #66 Mario Farnbacher, Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo22. Co-drivers will be Katherine Legge, Sheena Monk and Marc Miller.
- Acura returns to Daytona International Speedway and the IMSA season-opening Rolex 24 as two-time defending race winners. [Meyer Shank Racing won last year’s final race of the Daytona Prototype Interntional (DPi) era with the Acura ARX-05 driven by Tom Blomqvist, Oliver Jarvis, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud.]
- The Wayne Taylor Racing lineup of Filipe Albuquerque, Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi claimed the win in 2021’s twice-around-the-clock contest, 20 years after Acura’s first Daytona class win in 1991.
- This will be Acura’s ninth Rolex 24 as a prototype manufacturer (1991-93, 2018-23). In addition to the overall wins in 2021 and 2022 – and in 2016 under the HPD/Honda banner – Acura won the Camel Lights class at Daytona in 1991 and again in 1992.
Tom Blomqvist (#60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-05): POLE QUALIFIER, Acura records first pole in new IMSA GTP era. Blomqvist’s fourth pole in IMSA competition: “That was a bit wild. I knew I had a good car, but I had no point of reference and had to wing it a bit [with time for just one flying lap after a mid-session red flag]. I knew I had the car to do it, but the tires weren’t even up to temperature. I just had to lick the stamp and send it. Meyer Shank Racing, Acura, HPD, Oreca, everyone built a fantastic car. It’s really promising for next weekend, but there’s 24 hours of racing before we can set our sights on being up here for another year. I had a lot of confidence here after last year, and the team put a lot of faith in me.”
Ricky Taylor (#10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport ARX-05) Qualified third for the Rolex 24: “The [qualifying] session all came down to tires. It was an intentional decision by us to take [only] one set, and the MSR Acura team took two. Based on the risk of red flags with everyone running new cars, I still think [one set of tires] was the right decision. If the session had stayed red for 30 more seconds, we were on pole. As it turned out, the No. 60 [MSR Acura] got to use that second set [of tires] properly. I thought the car was really, really good and if we couldn’t be on pole, it’s nice for the other Acura to finish first after all the work everyone has put in at Acura, HPD, Oreca, and WTR Andretti. We’ll see them in the race.”
Kyle Marcelli (#93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 Evo22) qualified fourth in GTD: "This really is our super bowl of sports car racing. I'm really pleased that our Acura NSX ended up fourth on the grid, it has been performing really, really well. All of us drivers: me, Aston [Harrison], Danny [Formal] and Ryan [Briscoe]; are really getting along well and looking for the same things out of the car and the team has just been fantastic. We have good prep behind us and now we just need to focus on the race."
Mario Farnbacher (#66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo22) qualified fifth in GTD: “I think in qualifying fifth we’re in good position for the race. Qualifying for a 24-hour race is not super-critical, but with 61 cars in the field, by starting near the front there’s certainly a lot less chance for getting caught up in any trouble in the opening hour of the race. The car was good in qualifying, and I think we had a good run. But there’s a long race in front of us next weekend and a lot to do to prepare in the coming days.”
David Salters (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s pole by Acura and Meyer Shank Racing for next weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona: “The team at Acura Motorsports just gave a very pure demonstration of ‘Precision Crafted Performance’. As always, there is a huge amount of effort that goes into any worthwhile achievement. And it was the outstanding, brilliant, dedicated, skillful, men and women of HPD, of ORECA, of our teams – MSR and WTR – and of course our heroic and supremely talented drivers that was on full display today. They all deserve an immense ‘thank you’. They’ve all given huge amount to this project over the last 18 months, and its lovely to see our men and women rewarded today with pole position. Our goal, as engineers and technicians, is always to make the fastest race car we can. We’ve taken that opportunity and today, we made the fastest race car. That is immensely satisfying, and it is just a privilege to work with the men and women of our organization. It’s quite a reward in itself. So, massive ‘thank you’ to everyone involved. Creating things is hard. And we’re in competition with world-class competitors. So it’s very nice to demonstrate our own world-class credentials on this stage. There’s still a lot of work to be done. We still have to go racing next weekend. But everyone’s efforts, toil, grind and skill came out today. Let’s see where we go from here.”
Where to Watch the Rolex 24 at Daytona
Television coverage of the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona starts Saturday, January 28, at 1:30 p.m. EST for the opening hour on NBC. Coverage moves to USA Network from 2:30-8 p.m.; 10 p.m.- 12 a.m.; and 6 a.m.-12 p.m. on Sunday. Coverage concludes with the final hours of the race on NBC from 12-2 p.m. Sunday. Live flag-to-flag race coverage also will be available on the NBC Peacock streaming service.
Fans can listen to audio commentary via IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and Sirius XM Radio; and follow the race live via in-car cameras, IMSA Radio and timing & scoring available worldwide on IMSA.com and the IMSA mobile device App.
Acura Motorsports social media content and video links from Daytona are available on Instagram (www.instagram.com/hondaracing_hpd), Twitter at (twitter.com/HondaRacing_HPD) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD).
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