Both drivers sampled their first competitive taste of the famed Daytona banking two weeks ago during the traditional ‘Roar’ test, and continued their preparations for this weekend’s prize drives by completing practice and qualifying sessions.
British GT racer Morris was back behind the wheel of the #31 Whelen-sponsored, Action Express-run Cadillac DPi-V.R he’ll share with Toyota LMP1 star Mike Conway and reigning IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champions Dane Cameron and Eric Curran. The quartet split driving duties before the afternoon’s qualifying session in which Cameron sensationally snatched second on the grid for this Saturday’s 55th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Just 0.070s separated the American from his pole-winning Action Express team-mate Joao Barbosa.
With the front row lockout secured, Morris duly completed the mandatory night laps required by all Rolex 24 At Daytona rookies during the evening’s final practice session.
Bladon, meanwhile, spent much of the day familiarising himself with the #09 Racers Edge Motorsports Aston Martin V8 Vantage ahead of Friday’s four-hour (240-minute) Continental Challenge support race. The 20-year-old Mini Challenge Cooper class champion, who will share the Aston with Chris Beaufait and Ramin Abdolvahabi, had driven a different car during the event’s pre-test and was still finding his feet when qualifying began.
Nevertheless, Bladon steadily improved before breaking below the two-minute barrier for the first time en route to 15th overall, an impressive effort given the car’s performance deficit.
Seb Morris: “We couldn’t have asked for much more, really. The team did a brilliant job to execute a perfect qualifying session and end up with both cars on the front row. Both Dane [Cameron] and Joao [Barbosa] rung their cars’ necks. I’ve had a bit of time in the car today but the focus was initially on Dane getting comfortable before qualifying. Then it was just a case of me completing the mandatory night laps ahead of Saturday’s race. You don’t realise just how much of a golden ticket this prize is until you get here and work with the championship-winning team and drivers.”
Max Bladon: “It’s been a nice long day and we’ve probably completed more running than during the entire Roar test a couple of weeks ago. But it’s also been in a different car with a different gearbox, so it’s been a lot of fun getting to grips with unfamiliar surroundings. It’s a totally different way of driving. I’m not sure where we’d have been with the sequential ‘box but it’s very satisfying to have broken the two-minute barrier right at the end of qualifying. I can hold my head up high after this one. And, after all, whatever happens I’m racing at Daytona!”
Bladon has another chance to make further improvements tomorrow when he starts the Continental Challenge’s four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona support race. Morris’ programme is much shorter; he and Action Express will have just a single one-hour practice session to fettle their Cadillac ahead of Saturday’s main event.
Source. Anglo American Oil Company