The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, a new sports-car endurance racing series resulting from the merger of the American Le Mans Series with GRAND-AM, opened Thursday at the famed Daytona International Speedway with practice and qualifying in preparation for Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Honda Performance Development, the two-time LMP2 defending manufacturer and engine champion in American Le Mans Series competition, is represented in the new championship by Extreme Speed Motorsports, fielding a pair of HPD ARX-03b chassis and production-based Honda V6 twin-turbocharged engines. The Extreme Speed HPDs are two of six LMP2 entries in the new “Prototype” [P] division, which at Daytona also includes the unique Delta Wing design, and 11 Daytona Prototype cars from the former GRAND-AM series.
Unfortunately, separate minor mechanical issues prevented both HPDs from achieving top speed during the brief, 15-minute qualifying session that set the starting field for the 24-hour contest, leaving qualifying drivers Johannes von Overbeek and David Brabham 14th and 15th, respectively, on the prototype grid.
Both problems were resolved in time for the cars to take part in the 90-minute night practice that closedout activities Thursday at Daytona, with Simon Pagenaud posting the 6th fastest timein the #2 HPD and Brabham running 8th fastest in the #1 Extreme Speed entry.
The “twice around the clock” Rolex 24 at Daytona starts Saturday at 2 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage of the opening two hours on the Fox Network, and additional coverage throughout the race on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2.
Allen Miller (Project Leader, Honda Performance Development) on Daytona qualifying: “Certainly it was extremely disappointing for two very minor issues to have affected our qualifying runs today. Both Extreme Speed Motorsports cars suffered minor sensor issues that kept them from reaching top speed. The problems were quickly rectified, but in the short, 15-minute qualifying session, it wasn’t possible to show the true potential of our cars today. Almost anything can happen in a 24-hour race, but we’re confident we have a strong package for the weekend, and we’re looking forward to the start of the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship.”