Scott Dixon will start this weekend’s Daytona 24 Hour from seventh after a bold strategy call failed to pay dividends in the Motul Pole Award 100 qualifying race.
The 100-minute race would determine the starting order for the hallowed twice-around-the-clock endurance event.
The Kiwi will be racing with Chip Ganassi Racing in the premier DPi class. After promising practice results, Dixon’s teammates Kevin Magnussen and Renger van der Zande were tasked with tackling the qualifying race.
An electric start in damp conditions by Magnussen promoted him into the race lead. But when a full-course caution came out in the race’s early stages, Chip Ganassi Racing opted to keep the Dane out with wet tyres.
Meanwhile, the rest of the DPi field pitted for slicks. The result was that Magnuessen would pit several laps later for slicks, dropping himself and the team out of race-winning contention.
Van der Zande would bring the car home over a minute behind race winners, and Daytona polesitters Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani for the Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac.
The other Kiwi in the field, Earl Bamber, did get to contest the qualifying race.
Sporting the first look of the new EBM Team Hardpoint GTD Porsche, Bamber and co-driver Christina Nielsen came home 14th in class and will start 40th overall.
The two were on for a solid result until Nielsen was shoved into the tyre barrier at the bus stop chicane with over an hour left on the clock.
Still, a handy recovery drive by Bamber in the race’s latter stages ensured the team are within a competitive shot for the weekend.
The 2021 Rolex 24 at Daytona will be broadcast live on Sky Sport 5 from 9 am Sunday January 21.