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Last January 5 was a momentous day at Daytona International Speedway. During the qualifying session for DPI and LMP2 teams, Mazda Team Joest's Olivier Pla set the fastest qualifying time at 137.328 mph driving the Mazda RT24-P.
“We were anticipating that we would be a little bit quicker this year than last year, and the direction from the team was very clear – drive as hard as you can. The team has spent quite a bit of time developing the car for the endurance races, and we were working on our race setup all weekend, but we were always pushing as much as possible. It is a great thing to have set the unofficial record and to be fastest today, it’s great for Mazda, for our new sponsor Idemitsu and everybody on the team, but our focus is on the 24 Hours at the end of the month,” said Pla.
Pla now sets the standard for the qualifying session at the Roar Before the 24, the annual preseason test held at Daytona International Speedway for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. His Arctic White No.77 Mazda RT24-P was seen carousing the tracks to a time of 1:33.324, which is considered an all-time but unofficial course record.
His time was faster was faster than his teammate Oliver Jarvis' official Daytona International Speedway course record of 1:33.865. He drove the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P in qualifying for the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Meanwhile, his teammate, Jonathan Bomarito, qualified the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P in fifth position with a time of 1:33.660.
Overall, the two Mazda RT24-Ps combined to lead six of the eight sessions of the weekend.
When asked about their plans and goals for the race, Director of Mazda Motorsports Nelson Cosgrove commented:
“Our focus this weekend was to work on our cars for the race to give our two cars the best chance for success when we return at the end of the month. Our plan was to show our true pace and work through the items we needed to work through and give each of the drivers plenty of opportunity to improve the cars. But it has been great to have both Mazda RT24-Ps lead sessions and be fast throughout all three days. Olivier put together an amazing lap and the team is confident in the car that we have for the race. One of our primary goals this season is to be successful in the endurance races, and even though today’s results will mean very little on race day, it’s great to know that we are on the right path.”