CrowdStrike Racing by APR is in fine fettle after successfully completing its comprehensive run-plan in the Roar Before the Rolex 24 (19-21 January), before George Kurtz rounded-out the weekend’s programme by qualifying third for the 62nd Rolex 24 at Daytona (27-28 January).
The Algarve Pro Racing-run squad focused entirely on high-fuel running during the five multi-class test sessions and is satisfied with its relative performance to this point.
Qualifying, though, highlighted the strides Kurtz has taken since his LMP2 debut 12 months ago; the American was some 1.5s off the pace in 2023 but was significantly closer to the most experienced Am drivers in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, his 1m39.252s good enough for a spot on the second row of the LMP2 grid.
George Kurtz (#04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2): “We had a great 2023 season and built on that success in the Roar Before the Rolex 24. We certainly had high hopes going into Qualifying and knew we had improved, being more comfortable with the car. There’s always a little bit of nervousness when you start the first Qualifying session of a new season but, overall, we checked out in P3.
“The depth of this year’s LMP2 field in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is outstanding. It’s incredibly competitive and I think any team could win the Rolex 24 at Daytona. From CrowdStrike Racing by APR’s perspective, we just have to focus on keeping our nose clean and staying in the fight until the end of the race. We’re happy with where we have qualified, but it’s a long race and a lot can happen in 24 hours.”
Colin Braun (#04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2): “The CrowdStrike Racing by APR team had a great Roar. We accomplished a lot and checked off our to-do list. George (Kurtz) did a great job in Qualifying to put us P3 on the grid. Forecasts suggest the weather will be very different to what we’ve experienced so far, so we spent a lot of time focusing on things to prepare for the coming week, rather than worrying about tuning the car for the cool conditions. We can’t wait to get going when it really counts!”
Malthe Jakobsen (#04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2): “It’s great to start the 2024 season with CrowdStrike Racing by APR in the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona. George (Kurtz) did a good job in Qualifying and we’ll now keep on pushing to find as much speed as possible, and I know we’ll be ready to start the Rolex 24 at Daytona from P3 on Saturday.”
Toby Sowery (#04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2): “So far, everything has gone very smoothly. We had our goals for the Roar Before the Rolex 24 and we certainly met them, learning things along the way. George (Kurtz) did a fantastic job to put us in P3 for the start of the Rolex 24 at Daytona and we all feel positive coming away from Qualifying. We have a small break for further analysis and to put things together for the race, but I’m already feeling confident that we will be strong.”
Algarve Pro Racing Team Principal, Stewart Cox, said: “We’re all pleased with George’s (Kurtz) performance in Qualifying, because he is relatively inexperienced at Daytona International Speedway, especially compared to LMP2 poleman Ben Keating, who has raced at the circuit several times before and is a bit of a master. For George to qualify third and only seven tenths back from Keating, having been 1.5 seconds off his pace in 2023, is indicative of the progress he has made over the past 12 months and is something he can be proud of.
“It’s particularly impressive because there are always a lot of cars and it’s difficult to get traffic-free laps in testing, and that’s what you need to find a rhythm on a track with a high-speed, flowing nature. The same was true in Qualifying; because of where we finished in the 2023 championship, George was second-to-last out of the pits and, while his first three laps were pretty clear, we felt the car would be quickest on lap five, which was a little compromised by traffic.”
Cox continued: “Looking at the Roar as a whole, we did what we had to do, setup work is complete and the conditions meant making the car fast in every session was interesting. Conditions are set to change this week but we have an understanding of where the car wants to be in hot weather and, having focused entirely on full-tank running to this point, we’re fine entering race week.”