Brits gunning for Daytona glory
Team UK graduate Tom Blomqvist will start this weekend’s 62nd Daytona 24 Hours from pole position. The 30-year-old son of 1984 WRC champion Stig Blomqvist, is aiming for a famous hat-trick of victories after back-to-back successes in 2022 and 2023.
Having won the race twice with Meyer Shank Racing when sharing an Acura ARX with IndyCar champs Hélio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud, Blomqvist has now joined Action Express Racing and Cadillac in his quest to become the fourth British driver to win the American endurance classic three times – the others being Derek Bell, Andy Wallace and Brian Redman.
He shares the red #31 V-Series.R with fellow countryman Jack Aitken and defending GTP champion Pipo Derani. It was the hard-charging Brazilian who smashed the five-year-old qualifying record for the 3.56-mile Daytona road course when annexing pole in last Sunday’s ‘Roar Before the 24’ shootout for grid positions.
Although Blomqvist’s main focus in 2024 will be his first full-time Dallara-Honda ride in the NTT IndyCar Series, he is far from ready to give up on sportscar racing and thus is contesting the long-distance rounds of the fiercely competitive IMSA championship.
“It is an honour to be joining Action Express Racing and Cadillac for the endurance rounds of the 2024 campaign,” said the man who, with team-mate Oliver Jarvis, won the IMSA title in 2022. “I love being a part of this series, and I’m delighted to be returning once again. To be able to come back and to try to defend my title at Daytona is a huge motivation.’
Seeing his team-mate Derani top the time sheets in qualifying – as he himself had in 2023 – has further fuelled his excitement. “New year, new colours, same starting position,” he enthused. “Well done Pipo on pole! Awesome job by the team. Let’s get after it this weekend. Winning the Rolex 24 Hours once is special. Three straight wins would be fantastic.”
With Acura, BMW and Porsche also contesting the premier GTP class, the pace-setting Cadillac crew faces stiff opposition when the lights go out at 1:40pm (6:40pm in the UK) on Saturday evening. British drivers, as ever, are out in force, too – 30 in total including Le Mans winners Nick Tandy, Mike Conway and James Calado.
Nick Yelloly lines up fourth in the fastest of the BMW M Hybrid V8s, one place ahead of Jenson Button in the leading Acura ARX-06. Further back, it was the Yorkshire-based United Autosports team that set the pace among the LMP2 runners with Ben Hanley in the team’s leading entry.
Adding further to British success in qualifying, Seb Priaulx took top spot among the GTD Pro runners in the intimidating Tyrannosaurus green liveried Porsche 911 GT3 R, nicknamed ‘Rexy’ by the fans.
Along with Blomqvist – who first made history when winning the 2010 Formula Renault UK title aged just 16 years old – both Yelloly and Priaulx are also alumni of Team UK, the bespoke programme run by Motorsport UK to help the best young talents to unlock their full potential and thus represent the UK on the global stage.
Sportscar fans can watch the entire Daytona 24 Hours live via steaming on IMSA.tv commencing at 6:35pm on Saturday.