Mid-morning on Friday, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams ventured out onto Daytona International Speedway’s road course for their first session of 2017. Unlike the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge session earlier, this one had some problems.
Before those problems reared their head, REBELLION Racing’s Neel Jani set the fastest lap of the session (Note: REBELLION’s WEC entry from last year is pictured above). Jani’s lap of 99.164 seconds (129.240 mph) was three-tenths of a second faster than Wayne Taylor Racing’s Ricky Taylor in the fastest of the DPi cars. Dane Cameron was third fastest for Action Express Racing, followed by PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Jose Gutierrez in the sole LMP2-spec Ligier JS P217-Gibson. Visit Florida Racing’s Marc Goossens rounded out the top 5.
The 105 minute session was red flagged twice. First, a drainage issue resulted in water running across the track at the start-finish line resulted in a stoppage while that was addressed.
In Prototype Challenge, all five cars took to the track as soon as it opened. Trent Hindman was immediately on pace and set the best time in class early on in BAR1 Motorsports’ No. 26. The rest of the drivers took shots at it.
Meanwhile, in BAR1 Motorsports’ No. 20, Buddy Rice took a while to get to grips with the ORECA FLM09-Chevrolet. Once he did, he showed that he hadn’t lost anything due to his layoff.
Rice turned in a lap of 104.025 seconds (123.201 mph) to top the charts in the session. That lap was six-hundredths of a second faster than Sebastian Saavedra, who is driving the No. 88 entry for Starworks Motorsport. Hindman’s lap of 104.233 seconds held on for third quickest, less than a quarter of a second back. 2016 Pro Mazda Championship runner-up Patricio “Pato” O’Ward was fourth quickest in the No. 38 for Performance Tech Motorsports.
However, Performance Tech ran into problems later on when Clark Toppe crashed the No. 38 on-track. Toppe walked away from the wreck, but it has put Performance Tech behind.
A bit of damage done. We'll be taking some time to put her back in working order. #Rolex24
— Performance Tech (@Perf_Tech) January 6, 2017
Ben Keating rounded out the pack in the No. 8 entry from Starworks Motorsport. He is splitting time between the No. 8 and the Riley Motorsports No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the GT Daytona class
If the first session showed anything in GT Le Mans, it is that the class will continue to be close. Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen was fastest with a lap of 104.760 seconds (122.337 mph). That lap was three-tenths of a second faster than the No. 67 Ford GT of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ryan Briscoe in second. Dirk Müller in the No. 66 Ford GT was third quickest, followed by Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. Olivier Pla in the No. 68 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK was fifth.
GT Daytona saw more of the same pace that was seen during the December test. Connor de Phillippi was fastest in the Montaplast by Land-Motorsport No. 29 Audi R8 LMS GT3 with a lap of 107.629 seconds (119.076 mph). That lap was only seven-hundredths of a second faster than Tristan Vautier in the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. Stevenson Motorsports’ Robin Liddell was third in another Audi, followed by Scuderia Corsa’s Alessandro Balzan. GRT Grasser Racing Team’s Mirko Bortolotti was fifth in a Lamborghini.
Amongst the new factory GT Daytona teams, Scott Pruett in tenth was fastest of the bunch in the new No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3. Teammate Jack Hawksworth was 11th in the No. 15 Lexus. Jeff Segal was 13th in the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 for Michael Shank Racing, while Andy Lally was 16th in the No. 93.
The second session of the day will run for 150 minutes starting at 3 p.m.