IMSA announced Thursday (Dec. 3) that a new event will be added to the ROAR Before the 24 weekend. The starting grid for the Rolex 24 at Daytona will be determined by a new 100-minute race, the Motul Pole Award 100, on Sunday, Jan. 24.
“The Rolex 24 At Daytona is a special event that is worthy of a unique qualifying format,” said IMSA president John Doonan. “Not unlike the Daytona 500, which has set its field through the Duel At Daytona qualifying races for decades, introducing the Motul Pole Award 100 qualifying race for the Rolex 24 brings a new and exciting dynamic to the Roar.”
The race will be conducted under normal IMSA sprint rules. There will be two drivers per car and minimum drive-time requirements will be in effect. The LMP2, LMP3 and GT Daytona teams will be restricted in their driver selection to include at least one amateur driver in their lineup that will start the race.
In accordance to the new points system announced in September, the Motul Pole Award 100 will have points on the line. The winning team in each class will earn 35 points, second gets 32, third 30, fourth 28, fifth 26, sixth 25 and so on.
In recent years, a qualifying session was held on Sunday afternoon the past couple of years to set pit road and garage assignments for the Rolex 24 at Daytona weekend. That session has been moved to Saturday, Jan. 23 at 3 p.m. It will now set the starting lineup for the Motul Pole Award 100 using the regular 15-minute format. All GT cars will now be qualifying together, while the LMP3 class gets their own session. The DPi and LMP2 teams will continue to qualify together.
The Motul Pole Award 100 will be the first qualifying race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship since the Grand-Am/American Le Mans Series merger. However, qualifying races are not completely foreign to sports car racing.
In the early days of Grand-Am in 2000, there were qualifying races held at a number of venues. Here’s an example of qualifying races being held at Watkins Glen.
The Motul Pole Award 100 is scheduled to begin at 2:05 p.m. on Jan. 24. Information about coverage of the race has not been announced as of yet.