For much of Thursday (Jan. 24), Compass Racing has had an edge on the field in Daytona. In qualifying, Paul Holton did the absolute bare minimum and eviscerated the field to win the pole for Friday’s BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona, the season opener for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. For Holton, he credited his swift pace to familiarity with the car.
“I’ve got a lot of seat time in the 570[S GT4],” Holton said during his post-qualifying press conference. “I’ve got a pretty good idea of where [the car] needs to be immediately when we go on track. The ability to turn it on is my advantage.”
Holton turned in exactly one lap at speed during the session. That lap was at an average of 114.283 mph, nearly three seconds faster than the pole for last year’s race. In the pits, a large cheer erupted from the Compass Racing team when Holton’s time came up on the timing screen.
Holton ended up eight-tenths of a second ahead of Motorsport in Action’s Corey Fergus in another McLaren. Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport’s Christian Hohenadel will start third in the first non-McLaren, more than a full second off of Holton. Multimatic Motorsports’ Ty Majeski, who was fastest in the pre-qualifying warm-up session, will start fourth in his Ford Mustang GT4. CarBahn Motorsports’ Tyler McQuarrie will start fifth in his Audi.
Park Place Motorsports’ Trent Hindman qualified best of the Porsches in sixth. Indy Dontje, who was fastest in the rain-affected Practice No. 1, will start seventh, followed by Bodymotion Racing’s Marc Miller. The Racers Group’s Spencer Pumpelly was ninth, while BimmerWorld Racing’s James Clay was 10th.
In TCR, it was smiles all around at JDC-Miller MotorSports as Michael Johnson earned his first career Michelin Pilot Challenge pole in his Audi RS3 LMS Club Sport. Johnson, who is paralyzed below the waist as the result of a motorcycle crash, turned in a lap at 108.213 mph, good for 35th overall. It is a new track record for the class at Daytona.
Johnson’s lap was nearly seven-eighths of a second faster than eEuroparts.com ROWE Racing’s Lee Carpentier in the No. 10 Audi. Atlanta Speedwerks’ Brian Henderson will start third in class, followed by KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering’s Alex Popow in the best of the Alfa Romeos. LA Honda World Racing’s Shelby Blackstock will start fifth in class.