Image: Mazda

The Soul Red Mazda team has backed up its unofficial lap record at Daytona during The Roar Before The 24 test session with an official lap record at Daytona during qualifying Thursday. Driver Oliver Jarvis took the #77 Mazda RT24-P DPi to the top of the time sheets during qualifying, setting a pole position time for the race, and netting a new track record in the process with a 1 minute 33.685 second lap.

This time is 0.19 seconds quicker than the prior lap record set in 1993 by Toyota AAR’s Eagle Mk III. Mazda’s current prototype doesn’t come even close to the power levels of the 26-year-old Toyota GTP car, but with massive advancements in lightweight chassis production, crazy aerodynamic advancements in airflow efficiency and downforce, and massive leaps forward in tire development, the new car managed to finally take down the high-power bruiser.

Jarvis set a quicker time during the early January test session—a 1 minute 33.398 second time—but that time wasn’t considered an official lap record, as the test session didn’t require teams to run to in-race specifications.

Setting a pole position time in qualifying for a twenty-four hour race amounts to little more than bragging rights. Being in clean air at the start of the race accounts for little, what with the race being so long. Ultimately, Mazda will need to keep that speedy pace up for the full race, and not suffer any failures, to win. That’s no easy task, and that’s why they run the race.

John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports

“Everyone at Mazda is appreciative of IMSA to give us the chance to showcase our brand here in this championship. It’s been a good month. The Roar was good and today was good, but this weekend is what it’s all about and we hope that it can be a great end to what has been a good month. Everyone involved with Mazda Team Joest – Multimatic, AER, and these drivers – have been absolutely non-stop and we are very, very proud of the results we are seeing from their effort. All that effort has resulted in Mazda’s first pole position at this race. We have been in touch with the Gurney family since we unofficially went under the track record at the Roar Before the 24, and we are really pleased to honor them with this track record.”

Oliver Jarvis

“The most important thing for us was to get the pole. Since the Roar, I’ve gotten a better understanding of what it means to have the course record. For that record to stand for 26 years is incredible, and I wasn’t sure that we could beat it today because of the rain that we had this morning. I think for us and for Mazda Team Joest, it’s the icing on the cake, because we worked so hard. There’s been no off-season, and this is the result of all the hard work that’s gone in back at the workshop. For me, it’s very special to achieve my first pole with Mazda, but also to beat such a longstanding, impressive record is something special.”

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Considering the massive deficit the Mazda-Joest-Multimatic-AER team has had to overcome in the last few seasons, this does seem to point to a huge step in the right direction for them. There are a lot of really talented teams in the DPi class, so Mazda will really have to bring the A-game for this race.