Even though nearly ideal conditions contributed to records falling at Daytona International Speedway in qualifying for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, it was greater understanding of the LMDh cars that make up the Grand Touring Prototype class that led to the smashing of the five year old record by every GTP car, said polesitter Pipo Derani.

Derani set a best time of 1m32.656s in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac Racing V-Series.R. That 138.32mph lap was more than a second better than Oliver Jarvis’s 2019 1m33.685s lap in a Mazda DPi, and 1.645s better than Tom Blomqvist’s 2023 qualifying time in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06.

LMP2 polesitter Ben Keating described the low-50 degree F temperature, cloudless sky and brisk wind from the East as “perfect,” as well as saying the track was “unbelievably fast.” But Derani countered that it was more about the knowledge gained over a year of racing the GTP cars that has made them faster.

“I think a lot of it is just us understanding the car,” he explained. “I think obviously the conditions help – as usual, this time of the year is quite cold at Daytona, so more or less the perfect condition for qualifying – but I think everyone is just so much more integrated with their tools and how to extract lap time from from such a difficult car. I would say, at least on our side, we are a much better team with the electronics and with the complexity of the hybrid race car than we were 12 months back.”

Cadillacs led three of the five Roar Before the 24 sessions – Derani took two and Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 01 led another – and locked out the front row, with a Porsche and a BMW qualifying in the row behind. Ultimately, Derani noted it was working on the little things that allowed him to get the pole over the other Cadillac prepared by Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I think we’re working in the right direction, obviously,” he said. “Last year, we were close to pole position, but not quite there. I think in the end, everyone is really tight. I think Porsche was almost within a tenth from pole, so I think there’s details. In the end of the day, it’s finding those little details to find that little extra time, and we were able to do just that today.”