Daytona Beach, Fla. – WeatherTech Racing will start from the pole position in GTD Pro for next weekend’s running of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 28-29.
Maro Engel (Germany) had the controls of the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Mercedes-Benz of Billings, Montana support for the 15-minute qualifying session on Sunday afternoon. The Mercedes factory driver posted a time of 1:46.784, good for the pole position.
The weekend was not without some struggle by the WeatherTech Racing/Proton Competition team. The brand-new Mercedes-AMG GT3 car had some teething issues, causing the team to miss some practice time over the weekend. The crew was able to overcome that to be fastest in Saturday night’s practice and run for the pole on Sunday. The pole is particularly important for the championship, as it comes with 35 points.
“Putting the car on pole is definitely a good start to the Rolex 24,” said Engel. “We missed some practice time with the WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, but we showed well in practice last night and had a good run in qualifying. The car was really good in the session. I was able to get a little faster each lap. As you can see, the GTD Pro field is very close, so we are looking forward to a good race next weekend.”
Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.) is ready for his only, to date, scheduled start for the season.
“Great job by Maro to put the WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 on pole,” said MacNeil. “We wanted to show what the car could do and Maro went fast. The WeatherTech Racing/Proton Competition crew has not had it easy the last two days but were able to get everything adjusted, so the pole is a nice reward for them too. Not a bad way to start the 24-hour race. Now we look to race strategy to have a nice clean and fast run in the race. We led laps last year until an issue put us out, so we are looking to finish the job.”
Jules Gounon (France) likes the effort of the team and the qualifying result.
“Amazing. We were able to fix our issues,” said Gounon. “We had a fuel leak that we were able to fix, or we may have lost our baby. Being on pole is great. We have some early points that always helps. The WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 on pole is great and a great way to start the season.”
Daniel Juncadella (Spain) likes the way the Rolex 24 week is starting.
“Maro did amazing,” said Juncadella. “Perfect starting position for the race, with our WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 upfront. It really shows that we were pushing hard to be upfront. I am sure many things will change by next weekend but starting on the pole is always great. I have had some good laps in the car. I love being back in the USA and racing. We have a very good baseline for the race.”
The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 At Daytona will take the green on January 28 at 1:30 p.m ET.
For more information on WeatherTech Racing, including race recaps, photos and team gear, please visit the team site at www.WeatherTechRacing.com.
- By Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing