Photo: Courtesy of IMSA

Oliver Jarvis Wins Pole for Mazda at Daytona

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

DAYTONA — Different year, same result for Oliver Jarvis and Mazda Team Joest as the British racer captured pole position for the second year in a row for Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Jarvis turned a fastest lap of 1 minute, 33.711 seconds around the 3.56 mile road course to average 136.760 mph. Jarvis’s lap was .026 seconds slower than his track record lap set last year.

“This year feels different, this year feels business like,” said Jarvis. “Last year, huge amount [of] emotion, it was a first time. This year it feels like we came in to do a job and this is just a small part of what we want to achieve this weekend. A lot of work has gone into the car to improve things in terms of reliability. We’re really optimistic ahead of the race.”

In LMP2, Ben Keating won pole position in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA with a lap of 1 minute, 37.446 seconds, averaging 131.519 mph. Keating will be pulling double duty in the race, also driving the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3.

“The only time I’ve won this race was from the very last place,” said Keating. “I don’t feel like qualifying is a huge deal in a 24 hour race like this, but for the LMP2 class, it does give a big advantage.”

In GTLM, Nick Tandy won his fourth pole position at Daytona, tying a record set by Scott Pruett for class poles. Tandy drove the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19 to a class-record lap of 1 minute, 42.207 seconds to average 125.392 mph. Tandy’s lap came behind the wheel of a new Porsche for 2020 which is an evolution over the GTLM title-winning car from 2019.

“Everything is slightly different, it’s still a racing car,” said Tandy. “It’s still a Porsche. It still has it’s Porsche DNA. You press the pedals, you turn the steering wheel and you feel what the tires are doing underneath you. But all the magic is done back at the factory and back in the garage. It’s all the stuff you don’t see. You see the car on the track, but it’s all the stuff going on underneath that all the hard work goes into. It’s nice to be able to justify everybody’s effort. So congratulations to Porsche and Porsche North America for starting off like this.”

Zacharie Robichon brought the Canadian PFAFF Motorsports into pole position with the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R turning a lap of 1 minute, 45.237 seconds, averaging 121.782 mph. That lap is a GTD class track record.

“We’ve made a lot of improvements, and obviously it’s a 24 hour race, so if there is one race where qualifying isn’t as important, it’s this one,” said Robichon. “But there’s nothing taking away from being P1. We’ll take it, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.