Tom Blomqvist captured the pole position for the 61st Rolex 24 in dramatic fashion on Sunday, with an all-or-nothing final lap of 1:34.031 seconds in the No. 60 MSR Acura ARX-06 LMDh.
Tom Blomqvist and his Meyer Shank Racing team opened a new era of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition by dominating the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, running at the top of the GTP leader charts for much of the three-day test in the new hybrid-powered Acura LMDh driven by Tom Blomqvist, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.
The team took advantage of new qualifying rules that extended the session to 20 minutes and allowed teams to change tires. Running second on scuffed tires after two laps, MSR elected to pit to change to slick Michelin tires. That move nearly backfired, though, when a red flag stopped the action with only 8:36 remaining as Blomqvist slipped to seventh in the running order as none of the other teams pitted.
The track was cleared with just enough time for one flying lap. Blomqvist rose to the occasion, capturing the Motul Pole Award for the Rolex 24 at Daytona and his fourth career pole in IMSA’s top class.
Meyer Shank Racing set the tone for qualifying by leading the opening four sessions. They Roared right out of the box, with new addition and Tom's full-time teammate, Colin Braun, leading Friday’s opening session with a lap of 1:35.635-seconds. Later in the day, Castroneves improved to 1:35.210-seconds to lead all competitors in the test opener. On Saturday, Blomqvist led morning practice (1:35.942-seconds), before Braun set the fastest practice lap of the day in the afternoon (1:35.038-seconds).
The next practice session for the WeatherTech Championship competitors will be Thursday at 11:05 a.m. (all times ET). The 61st Rolex 24 At Daytona is set to take the green flag at 1:40 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28.
“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. If it was under me 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. MSR, Honda Acura, 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.”
- Tom Blomqvist