Scott Dixon will start tomorrow’s Sebring 12 Hour from the second row after co-driver Renger van der Zande set the third-fastest time in an accident-marred qualifying session.
A heavy crash by seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson brought an early end to proceedings, with Pipo Derani in the No.31 Cadillac claiming pole position.
Derani and co-drivers Mike Conway and Felipe Nasr have fronted each of Friday’s practice sessions and comfortably look like the trio to chase tomorrow.
The 1.43.354 posted by Derani re-sets a new lap record and ended up being over a tenth quicker than Ricky Taylor in the Konica Minolta Acura, who will start second.
Van der Zande was tasked with the duty of qualifying for Dixon and fellow co-driver Kevin Magnussen. Yet, the Dutch driver encountered traffic on what was setting up to be his best lap of the session.
Still, the No.01 Daytona Prototype will start on the second row.
Johnson’s crash occurred at turn 117 when he lost control of the rear of his Cadillac, and the car collected the barrier side-on. Johnson appeared uninjured, and the damage seemed to be repairable.
“I’m certainly disappointed that I tore up the car for the team, putting them in a difficult position,” Johnson said.
“I was trying to get up and going to catch another flying lap before the session ended. Sadly, I had some debris on my tires as I entered 17 and tagged the outside wall. I learned a couple of lessons there – call them rookie lessons.”
Earl Bamber is the other New Zealander in the field. Co-driver Rob Ferriol steered the No.99 Hardpoint EBM to 34th overall and tenth in the GT Daytona class.
Bamber won the Sebring 12 Hour classic for his first-time last year in his final race for the Porsche factory GT Le Mans team.
Meanwhile, Scott Dixon is yet to make his way to victory lane. Last year the six-time IndyCar champion was in race-winning contention before being tipped into a spin by a rival, damaging the car and hurting the rest of his day.
Kiwi viewers can catch coverage of the full race on Sky Sport pop-up channel 600, with the flag set to drop at 3.30 am NZT.