By a margin of just .007 seconds, Renger Van Der Zande drove the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R to the pole position with a time of 1:36.083. As the time ticked away on the 15-minute qualifying session, the Cadillac four-some were all running in the top five. Filipe Albuquerque posted a fast time early in the Mustang Sampling Cadillac that eventually landed him in third. Van Der Zande was working his way up the time sheet, and in thrilling fashion, he posted his fastest qualifying lap on his last circuit around the 3.56-mile modified oval just as time expired, eclipsing Penske drive Helio Castroneves for the pole for Saturday’s 2:40 p.m. start time.
The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac will start third with a time of 1:36.194. The 90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac, qualified by Tristan Vautier, will start fifth with a time of 1:36.472 and the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac, qualified by Felipe Nasr, will start seventh on a time of 1:36.508. The top nine prototype cars are within a half-second of each other.
The pole is the second for Cadillac at Daytona in the new IMSA DPi prototype era. Joao Barbosa took the pole last year at the Rolex 24 in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac.
Konica Minolta driver Van Der Zande is the newcomer to the championship winning team and will partner co-driver Jordan Taylor for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech season.
“I am super thrilled to be in the Konica Minolta Cadillac,” Van Der Zande said. “I didn’t expect to get the pole. When the team told me on the radio I got pole, I was excited. On the final lap, I over shot Turn 5 and I floored it and the Cadillac stuck. Every lap I was taking time out and pushing. At some of the points, it is seven or eight meters later at the braking markers. The wind was pushing me up toward the wall. I had some traffic in the session. I actually let Helio pass. I was all in on the last lap and it turned out to be fast. It is very, very tight. The most competitive field in a long time. The Konica Minolta team has high expectations. They know how to win a championship.”
“It was pretty good,” Albuquerque said. “I needed just one more tenth or one-and-a-half seconds. I am happy with P3, the Mustang Sampling Cadillac feels good. I think we have a good car for the race. One tenth for the 24 hours is really nothing. We will now fine-tune the car for the night time.”
“The balance in general of the car is very good,” Nasr said. “Since the Roar I thought we have had a good car. Everything was coming better until the end. The track was getting cooler. It is too bad I was going faster, then we had an electrical issue that stopped the car on the track. It is too bad, I think I could have gone a little faster and battled for the pole. It is a long race and we have a good Whelen Cadillac.”
“Considering we started with the car January 2 it is a good effort today,” Vautier said. “Starting fifth is good. We struggled a little in second practice. In qualifying, the feeling just wasn’t there, but we know what is wrong and we can fix it for the race. A top five with a new car and a new team is a good result. It is very close out there with the competition. We are worried about maximizing our effort. It is a positive result of the team. We now need to find a few fixes to make the car good for the 24 hours. We have a good driver line-up and the Spirit of Daytona guys will get the car right. This is the team’s home race, so that helps to motivate us. I want to have a good safe start and not risk the car.”
Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing