Roar Before the 24: Cadillac Takes the First Row for the Race in Sunday Qualifying

David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Now that this past weekend’s Roar Before the 24 is in the books, the three-day practice session for cars and drivers entering next weekend’s Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona has given the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship staff a better idea of who’s fast—and who isn’t.

That’s important in case the IMSA technical crew makes changes to the Balance of Performance before the race. The Balance of Performance, or BoP, is IMSA’s way of assuring that the variety of cars in each class are approximately running the same speed. Mandated changes in the BoP, which could be applied to engine power, rpm limits, aerodynamics, weight, the amount of fuel the cars can carry, or other adjustments, are designed to maintain parity and create a level playing field.

IMSA has now added Rolex 24 qualifying to the Roar. Prior to that, when it was just practice, many teams declined to show their full hand during the test, for fear that going as fast as they possibly can might result in getting BoP performance limitations for the race itself. Adding qualifying to the Roar likely limits that; granted, where you start may not be that critical for a 24-hour race, but it’s a feather in the cap of the teams and the manufacturers that qualify up front.

So who did? In the top class, GTP, it’s an all-Cadillac front row. Driver Pipo Derani, in the Whelen Cadillac V-LMDh, turned a lap of 1 minute, 32.656 seconds (138.318 mph) on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course, laying waste to the existing track record set in 2019 by a Mazda DPi. Second was Sebastien Bourdais in another Cadillac, this one from Chip Ganassi Racing, who was just 0.071 seconds behind Derani. In third was a Penske Porsche 963 driven by Felipe Nasr, with a lap of 1:32.816. Acura, looking for its fourth straight overall victory, qualified fifth and sixth.

“Obviously, the Cadillac was flying out there today,” Derani said after earning his 10th career pole position in IMSA competition. “It was just a privilege and a pleasure to drive such a car—really well balanced. There was great teamwork to improve what was needed for qualifying. The car felt on rails, and it was nice to enjoy and feel the full potential of GTP.”

In LMP2, Ben Keating was again the fast qualifier in his new ride, the United Autosports USA Oreca, with a lap of 1:38.501. In GTD Pro, Seb Priaulx put his AO Porsche 911 GT3 on the class pole with a time of 1:44.382. And in GTD, Parker Thompson won the class pole in his Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3, with a lap of 1:44.494.

In other news:

—Cars and drivers from Friday’s four-hour Michelin Pilot Challenge race, called the BMW M Endurance Challenge, also participated in the Roar Before the 24. Twenty-seven cars from the GS class were on the entry list, plus 12 cars from the TCR class. Notable are the drivers of the Smooge Racing Toyota Supra: NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace, John Hunter Nemechek, and Corey Heim.

—LMP2-class cars are all powered by a V-8 from British manufacturer Gibson, and of the 11 entries, 10 use the Oreca chassis. The outlier is Sean Creech Motorsports, which is running a Ligier chassis. Said veteran driver Joao Barbosa, who has won the Rolex 24 outright: “It’s been super interesting, working with this car and this team to bring the Ligier back to life,” said Barbosa. “We knew it was going to be a big challenge and we took it head on, and it’s paying off. Looking at all the hard work the crew has put in behind the scenes, to catch up on all these years of non-development, it has been really rewarding to watch the car go. The week has been very successful, and the team is very motivated to continue that progress.”

—The GTD Pro battle between Chevrolet and Ford looks to favor the Corvette GT3 over the Mustang GT3, judging from qualifying. A red flag allowed for just eight minutes of green-flag running, though, so that may not be definitive. The fastest Corvette, from Pratt Miller Motorsports, was driven by Antonio Garcia, qualifying third in GTD Pro. The fastest Mustang was driven by Dirk Mueller and qualified ninth. 

—The Iron Lynx Lamborghini Huracan GT3 caught fire while traveling down pit lane on Saturday, with driver Romain Grosjean quickly exiting the car. It had to be a scary moment of déjà vu for Grosjean, who was injured in a fiery crash while driving in Formula 1 in 2020, but he emerged unscathed at Daytona. The team replaced the engine and continued practicing in the Roar.




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    Cadillac has generally done well in Daytona. The power to weight rules are what decide if they win or not. THe real prize this this is Le Mans. THey go third last year and want more this year.

    The GTD Corvettes should do well. They not only have good cars but their team is the best at 24 hour strategy. Many on the web post stories like Pratt Miller are new to this. They are the same team just now they own the team not GM. They took over the ownership and are still the same team working with GM on building these cars.

    It is cool that the chassis still come off the Bowling Green line that my chassis came off of. I think the cars going to the new formula will be a benefit as they will not be stock but they will be closer to stock than before.

    Though the Mustang I feel got some real extra breaks. But in the end the Balance of Power keeps it all close no matter what.

    Nice to see Cadillac have success. I wish this translated into some new fun Cadillacs.

    Nice to see the no longer new Lexus RC F GT3 is also doing well.

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