Nasr on pole as K-Mag begins new era at Daytona

Date published: January 30 2021 - Jon Wilde

Kevin Magnussen

Kevin Magnussen will start the next phase of his racing career, in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, from seventh position on the grid.

The Dane was released by the Haas Formula 1 team at the end of last season for financial reasons, with he and Romain Grosjean replaced by rookie duo Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin who bring more commercial value.

Sportscar racing is the new focus for Magnussen, who has joined up with the Chip Ganassi Racing team in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship.

That begins with the Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona, which the 28-year-old has described as “always a massive bucket list race for me to do”.

And it will be ticked off the list this weekend as Magnussen partners Renger van de Zande in a Cadillac DPi, competing in the category enabling him to challenge for overall victory.

However, starting P7 will not make life easy for Magnussen and his Dutch fellow driver – who is bidding for a third consecutive victory in the event – with pole position having been captured by another ex-F1 racer in Felipe Nasr.

The 28-year-old Brazilian, who drove for Sauber in 2015-16, is starting his fourth year with the Whelen Engineering Racing team, having won the IMSA title in 2018. Nasr was runner-up at Daytona in 2018 and 2019.

Felipe Nasr, on pole at Daytona

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In claiming pole position, Nasr, who will be partnered by Pipo Derani, Britain’s Mike Conway and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott, had to overcome a setback before the 100-minute qualifying race that determined the grid placings.

Their Cadillac DPi was deemed to be underweight upon a technical inspection before the qualifying race, earning a penalty, but on a drying track Nasr finished 3.664sec ahead of Britain’s Harry Tincknell.

“Rules are rules, but we didn’t let the frustration get to us,” said Nasr.

“It was all about getting our head down. When we saw the weather was changing (before the race) we knew an opportunity was coming. That’s racing. We took whatever came and worked our way up through the field. It was awesome.”

A selection of other former F1 drivers will also be in this year’s Daytona line-up, including Kamui Kobayashi who, like Van de Zande, is aiming to win for the third year in a row, albeit now in a separate team.

Those in different categories, therefore less likely to competing for the outright win, include Juan Pablo Montoya, Robert Kubica, Timo Glock, Sebastien Bourdais and Giedo van der Garde.

The race begins at 8.40pm UK time on Saturday and finishes 24 hours later.

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