One legendary team and one surprising team captured the poles for the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona. Starworks Motorsport went from not running a lap before Thursday to pole overall and in Daytona Prototypes with Scotsman Ryan Dalziel aboard the team's new third-generation Riley-Ford, while Andrew Davis captured a stunning pole in GT, outpacing many of the world's top GT pilots in his Brumos Racing Porsche GT3 Cup.
Max Angelelli (SunTrust Racing Corvette, DP) and Jeff Segal (AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458, GT) completed the front rows for the two classes.
Dalziel, who won the race in 2010, lapped in 1m41.119s to knock Max Angelelli off the top spot and give the Riley-Ford he is sharing with fellow Scotsman Allan McNish, Lucas Luhr, Alex Popow and Enzo Potolicchio pole for the race.
"I don't think its surprising on one hand, but on the other, we had ran our car for the first time in the second practice," Dalziel said. "We had a really unusual motor failure on startup, so second practice we did only 45 minutes. But we felt confident coming out of it.
"I was a bit surprised, I thought the Chevys would be, and they are the cars to beat. But massive amounts of credit go to the team, and our new engineer is Steve Challis. We were the last Riley to be delivered to a team. To get the pole is very rewarding. The pole doesn't mean too much, but it proves we have a fast car. I told Allan we'd be fast, so I don't have to give him any money which is good."
McNish, twice a front-row starter in 1999 and 2000, admitted additional surprise – and like his co-drivers, he has not turned a wheel until Thursday night's practice session.
"This is a funny one because we didn't expect to finish qualifying up at the front, especially after losing the first one this morning," McNish said. "It was a good run all the way through by Ryan. Max was trying all the way through."
Angelelli tried to reclaim pole in the SunTrust Corvette he is sharing with Ricky Taylor and IndyCar star Ryan Briscoe, and got to within 0.121sec of Dalziel's mark almost immediately after the pole time had been set. Angelelli was frustrated, but not defeated, over losing the top spot.
"I cannot hide my disappointment, to be leading all the practices and now be P2," Angelelli said. "I wasn't expecting P2. I still feel our car is really good, and really fast. For the 24 hours, we'll be the car to beat."
Scott Dixon put the best of the Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-BMWs in third spot, while the Corvette DPs of Alex Gurney (Bob Stallings Motorsport) and Antonio Garcia (Spirit of Daytona) were next up. Ozz Negri completed the top six in his Michael Shank Racing Riley-Ford in a time less than 0.7sec off the pole time.
Last year's winning car, the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley BMW of Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Joey Hand and Graham Rahal, suffered a blown engine in practice. With the team unable to change the unit in time for qualifying, the car did not take part in the session and will start the race from the back of the DP pack. The No. 5 Action Express Corvette suffered a similar fate and will start alongside.
Pole in the GT class went to Brumos Porsche driver Andrew Davis, who shares his car with Marc Lieb, Leh Keen and veteran Hurley Haywood.
Jeff Segal produced a sensational late effort to put the AIM Autosport Ferrari second, ahead of Andy Lally's Magnus Porsche. The trio were split by less than four hundredths of a second.
"We struggled this morning and the first couple sessions thereafter," Davis said. "It shows the same thing as last year, that we never stopped fighting. There was silence for a while on the radio. I surprised we could stick it up on there. Normally I've lost these back-and-forths. But I had some drafting help on the quick lap, and I don't think I could have done the lap without it."
Segal, for his part, was thrilled to put the AIM entry fastest of the five Ferraris in the field. He co-drives with Emil Assentato, Nick Longhi and Anthony Lazzaro.
"It was a real nail-biter," Segal said. "We've known the GT field is unbelievable for this race."
Usual American Le Mans Series entrants Flying Lizard Motorsports and Risi Competizione completed the top five in class with their Porsche GT3 Cup and Ferrari 458, respectively. Team Sahlen led the Mazda contingent in sixth, ahead of the Alex Job Porsche, Autohaus Camaro, FOAMETIX/Burtin Porsche and Paul Miller Porsche in the top 10. Two Porsches – one of which is expected to withdraw – did not post a time.
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time
1. DP Dalziel/McNish/Luhr/Popow/Potolicchio Riley-Ford 1m41.119s
2. DP Angelelli/Taylor/Briscoe Corvette DP 1m41.240s
3. DP Dixon/Franchitti/McMurray/Montoya Riley-BMW 1m41.463s
4. DP Gurney/Fogarty/Gidley Corvette DP 1m41.519s
5. DP Garcia/Gavin/Westbrook/Magnussen Corvette DP 1m41.611s
6. DP Negri/Pew/Wilson/Allmendinger Riley-Ford 1m41.662s
7. DP Barbosa/Borcheller/Papis/France Corvette DP 1m42.074s
8. DP McDowell/Nasr/Yacaman/Gonzalez Riley-Ford 1m42.414s
9. DP Hunter-Reay/Luhr/Mayer/Potolicchio/Scala Riley-Ford 1m42.657s
10. DP Frisselle/Frisselle/Lowe/Tracy Dallara-Ford 1m42.773s