After two days of rain, fog and gloomy weather, Friday morning dawned sunny and the track surface was dry. Normally, the final practice session for the Rolex 24 is the culmination of the better part of five hours of practice. However, given the recent weather, it represents the only real chance that the teams would get to see what they what they have in the dry prior to the race.
On Thursday, Panoz DeltaWing Racing‘s Katherine Legge stated to Frontstretch that she believed that the car had a lot of speed and just needed to be able to show it as the previous conditions prohibited it. She was definitely able to do that and more.
Legge turned a lap of 1:38.590 (129.993 mph) to top the overall speed charts in what turned out to be a great session for non-Daytona Prototypes. To put that in perspective, Legge’s lap was over six-tenths of a second faster than Pipo Derani‘s fastest overall lap during the Roar Before the 24 open test. It was also more than a second faster than Panoz DeltaWing Racing was a couple of weeks ago. It was also a half-second faster than the pole time for last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona
Legge’s lap was three-tenths of a second quicker than Olivier Pla in the No. 60 Tire Kingdom-sponsored Ligier JS P2-HPD for Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian. Johannes van Overbeek was third fastest for Tequila Patron ESM.
Max Angelelli was the fastest of the drivers in Daytona Protoypes, but his best lap in the Wayne Taylor Racing Chevrolet Corvette DP was only good enough for fifth quickest, nearly two seconds off of Legge’s pace. We’ll have to see if that pace is all the Corvette DP’s have, or if they’re keeping more pace under wraps.
Tom Kimber-Smith was fastest in PC (12th overall) with a lap of 1:43.283 in the PSC-sponsored No. 52 for PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports. That lap was four and a half tenths faster than Kenton Koch in the No. 85 for JDC/Miller MotorSports. Martin Plowman, driving the No. 54 for core Autosport, was third quickest.
The dry weather Friday saw the GT-Le Mans contenders brought back down to earth after topping the speed charts for much of Thursday in the wet. Regardless, speeds were still quite high.
BMW Team RLL had a 1-2 in practice with veteran Bill Auberlen putting the No. 25 M6 on top right at the end of the session with a lap of 1:44.966 (122.097 mph). Teammate Lucas Luhr put the No. 100 second on the chart, nearly a quarter of a second off the pace. Alessandro Pier Guidi put Scuderia Corsa‘s new Ferrari F488 GTE third on the charts.
In GT-Daytona, Park Place Motorsports showed that they are still the team to beat, regardless of the conditions. Porsche factory driver Jörg Bergmeister turned in a lap at 1:47.594 (119.114 mph) to lead the speed charts once again.
Paul Miller Racing‘s Mirko Bortolotti was second fastest in his Lamborghini Huracan GT3, three-tenths off of Bergmeister’s pace. A second Huracan, the O’Gara Motorsport entry driven by Townsend Bell, was third fastest.
There were no major incidents in the one hour practice session. However, there were a couple of instances of note. There were two red flags during the session. One was for Michael Marsal stalling his Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 on the backstretch. The other was for Kirill Ladygin spinning the overall pole sitting SMP Racing BR01-Nissan in turn 6. In addition, Riley Motorsports‘ No. 33 was the only team that did not go out on track. The team spent the practice session changing the gearbox on the Gas Monkey Garage-sponsored Dodge Viper GT3-R.
The Rolex 24 is scheduled to start at 2:40 p.m. Saturday afternoon. A full schedule of TV coverage for the race can be found in the TV Schedule tab at the top of your screen. Note the channel changes.