Qualifying race ahead of Rolex 24

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season 2021 will start off with something brand new.

The traditional qualifying for the Rolex 24 at Daytona – the current official name of the Daytona 24 hours – will be replaced by a qualifying race, as they do for the Daytona 500 race.

That part will happen during the ROAR test, where a 100-minute race will determine the starting grid for the 24 hours race the following week. The race will consist of two drivers per car, and the LMP2, LMP3 and GTD categories will have to run at least one of their Silver or Bronze rated drivers.

There will be a qualifying prior to the race, which will determine the starting grid for the qualifying race itself. Each category will have 15 minutes of qualifying as we know from 2020. The GTD and GTLM cars will share the first qualifying, LMP3 will run alone, while LMP2 and DPi will finish off by sharing the track as well.

The qualifying for the qualifying race will run on Saturday 23 January, while the qualifying race will run on 24 January. The first points of the season will be awarded after the qualifying race, according to the new qualifying points scale – 35, 32, 30 etc.

Turner Motorsport BMW #96
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Michael L. Levitt

This new invention does two things for IMSA.

1- There will be more focus on the ROAR test, with some actual meaningful racing going on, instead of just practice sessions, and a potential qualifying for garage allocation, as it was done for the previous years.

2 – Since there are points on offer, no teams are likely to do any kind of BOP games i.e. sandbagging. Everybody will go for the maximum amount of points available.

Even though only two drivers will race the cars in this qualifying race, all drivers assigned to the car will score points, no matter if they are actually in the car or not.

There will be four practice sessions and a Warm-Up at the ROAR too. Two sessions will run on Friday, and two on Saturday, with the latter Saturday session being a 2-hour night practice.

The qualifying race will run on Sunday afternoon 24 January, Florida time.

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