For 26 years, a Toyota Eagle held the track record around Daytona's road course with a time of 1:33.875. That record finally fell in 2019, when a DPi-class Mazda dipped down to 1:33.685. In the second year of hybrid racing at Daytona, the track record has been obliterated.
Cadillac's Pipo Derani won pole in Sunday's qualifying for the 2024 24 Hours of Daytona with a time of 1:32.656, a full second up on the fastest lap in DPi history. It was part of a front-row lockout for Cadillac, the program that won the IMSA title last year but has its eyes set on a bigger prize this year. That time is also 1.4 seconds up on last year's pole, indicating major development for the only naturally aspirated car in the class.
All nine GTP cars that took part in qualifying beat the old track record. All of Porsche, BMW, and Acura placed a car in the top five, all within half a second of Derani's pole time. The No. 7 Penske Porsche that rolls off third was two-10ths behind the Cadillacs, while the leading BMW and both Acuras were around 4/10ths back.
While the fourth-place start may not look all that exciting, BMW will be happy to see its M Hybrid V8 within reach of the leaders. After struggling to keep up with the leader's pace last year, the leading BMW has cut half its gap to the pole in this year's qualifying session. More importantly, the fastest Rahal Letterman Lanigan BMW entry in this year's session is 1.7 seconds faster than the leading entry in last year's qualifying. BMW is planning on going to Le Mans this year, so new speed in the car is a welcome sight ahead of its European debut in March.
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