DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2020) – WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Toni Vilander (Kankaanpää, Finland), Alessandro Balzan (Italy), and Jeff Westphal (San Mateo, Calif.) will start from the front row in the GTD class in the 58th running of the IMSA WeatherTech Rolex 24 At Daytona January 23-26 at Daytona International Speedway.
Westphal piloted the brand-new No. 63 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo during Thursday’s 15-minute qualifying session and he immediately shot straight to the top of the GTD leaderboard early. As usual, the highly competitive GTD class is known for producing some very fast lap times. Today was no different. Just as soon as Westphal set a P1 qualifying time, the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3R turned a new GTD track record qualifying time of 1:45.237 – knocking Westphal down one spot to P2. Westphal fought to regain the top spot but finished with the second quickest lap of 1:45.713.
“The team’s been working hard on the car,” Westphal said after qualifying. “The co-drivers all tried to cohesively get the same package underneath us. We know it’s a long race. We know we’ve got to have a car that’s comfortable in multiple conditions. This was the best the car has felt. So, we’re working the right way. The run felt really good. I was happy about it. I didn’t quite get the draft I was looking for from the Porsche ahead of me. But, sometimes that’s just how it goes. I’m happy none-the-less. Starting P2, for the first race of the year, is a great place to be. But, it’s a long race.”
The new Ferrari 488 Evo debuted at the Roar test and, so far, the car has performed well according to Westphal.
“To put the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo on the front row for its first race is definitely something,” Westphal said. “It’s a testament to the engineering that goes behind the car, the team operating all of that, and the support that goes with it. It’s a unit. We have help from all sides. Everyone is here for a common goal. Clearly, it’s a good car. I like it. I was very happy with the balance I had. I was very happy with the tire wear. Again, it’s a long race, but I’m confident that we’ve got a good weapon.”
The 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona gets underway at 1:35 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Jan. 25. NBC will carry live network coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. (ET) and provide race coverage throughout the race finishing at 1:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday, Jan. 26. This is part of the NBC Sports’ complete coverage of the event that includes windows on NBCSN, the NBC Sports App, and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
IMSA Radio will have live coverage throughout the weekend on RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.
MacNeil will start from the pole tonight for the first of two Ferrari Challenge races this weekend. Race 2 will take place Friday at 6:45 p.m. Streaming of both races is available at races.ferrari.com.
For more information on WeatherTech Racing, including race recaps, photos and team gear, please visit the team site at www.WeatherTechRacing.com.
WeatherTech, headquartered in Bolingbrook, Illinois, has long been recognized by the discerning automotive enthusiast as a supplier of accessories of unparalleled quality. Best known for its WeatherTech FloorLiners™ and commitment to all-American manufacturing, the company supplies products to many automobile manufacturers as an original equipment supplier. More information can be viewed at www.weathertech.com.