So far in the Roar Before the 24, it is a little difficult to figure out who has the speed in the Prototype class. In the first session, the LMP2-spec ORECA 07-Gibson of REBELLION Racing’s Neel Jani was quickest overall. In the second session, it was more of the same.
Jani once again topped the charts in the second test session with a lap of 99.160 seconds (129.246 mph), set with 18 minutes remaining in the 2.5 hour session. The lap was more than a quarter of a second faster than JDC/Miller MotorSports’ Misha Goikhberg in another ORECA 07-Gibson. Wayne Taylor Racing’s Ricky Taylor in third had the fastest lap in a DPi prototype, seven-eighths of a second slower than Jani.
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Jose Gutierrez was fourth quickest in the No. 52 Ligier JS P217-Gibson, while Nicolas Lapierre was fifth in the No. 81 ORECA 07-Gibson for DragonSpeed. Even if everyone wasn’t necessarily showing what they had, four LMP2’s in the top 5 is still saying something.
In Prototype Challenge, BAR1 Motorsports’ Johnny Mowlem put himself at the top of the class early on and only continued to improve his times. Towards the middle of the session, Mowlem set a time of 102.701 seconds (124.789 mph) to top the charts in the No. 26. Mowlem may have come out of retirement to race the No. 26, but he hasn’t lost anything in his brief time out of the car. Teammate Gustavo Yacaman was second fastest in the No. 20, but he was over one second off of Mowlem’s pace.
Performance Tech Motorsports’ No. 38 was the only one of the 55 cars in Daytona to not venture out on track. The team is still repairing their ORECA FLM09-Chevrolet after Clark Toppe‘s crash in the first session.
In GT Le Mans, it was Ford Chip Ganassi Racing on top of the charts. However, the difference between the teams is infinitesimal.
Dirk Müller was quickest in the No. 66 Ford GT with a lap of 104.773 seconds (122.322 mph), just seven-hundredths of a second faster than Andy Priaulx in the No. 69. Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin was third fastest, a tenth of a second slower than Müller. The Fords of Richard Westbrook (No. 67) and Billy Johnson (No. 68) rounded out the top 5. Just more than a quarter of a second separated the top 5 and less than six-tenths of a second separated the top 10.
In GT Daytona, the Audis once again were fastest, but everyone is stacked right up against each other. Stevenson Motorsports’ Robin Liddell was fastest with a lap of 107.553 seconds (119.160 mph). That lap was a tenth and a half faster than Shane van Gisbergen in the WeatherTech Racing No. 50 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Just three-hundredths of a second slower than van Gisbergen was 54-year old Boris Said in the SunEnergy1 Racing No. 75 Merecedes. CORE autosport’s Colin Braun was fourth in a Porsche 911 GT3 R, while Jules Gounon was fifth in the Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi.
18 of the 27 GT Daytona cars in Daytona turned laps within a second of Liddell’s fastest lap. Despite that, the best laps in this session were still nearly two seconds slower than the fastest GT Daytona lap set in last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. Richard Antinucci turned a lap of 105.873 seconds (121.051 mph) in the No. 11 O’Gara Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3. However, the Lamborghinis were found to be out of homologation four weeks after the race. That resulted in “sandbagging” penalties of the equilvalent of a stop and five-minute hold being given to all the Huracans in the race.
Unlike the first session, there was only one very brief interruption in the action. Change Racing’s No. 16 Lamborghini stalled on-track early on in the session. After the Huracan GT3 was retrieved, the action resumed.
On-track action in Daytona resumes Saturday morning at 9 a.m. with a 105-minute open session for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. There is a very high likelihood of rain tonight and early Saturday morning, so a large chunk of the rubber laid down on-track will be washed away.
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