The final two practice sessions for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in Daytona had their fair share of minor incidents, but nothing serious. Action Express Racing’s Filipe Albuquerque was fastest in these sessions with a lap at 135.027 miles per hour.
Practice No. 3
The night practice session Thursday night (Jan. 23) turned out to be the cleanest session of the whole weekend. There were no red flags and only minor nuisances. For instance, Kyle Busch had a brief spin in his Lexus, but he did not hit anything and was able to continue.
Despite the temperatures falling during the session, Albuquerque set his fastest laps at the very beginning of the session. The quick lap of the evening occurred on only his third lap at speed.
Albuquerque’s lap was one-third of a second faster than Wayne Taylor Racing’s Renger van der Zande in a a similar Cadillac DPi-V.R. JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Joao Barbosa was third in his Cadillac, while Acura Team Penske’s Dane Cameron was fourth. Matheus Leist was fifth in his Cadillac.
Interestingly, three teams did not set times. Acura Team Penske’s No. 7 that Ricky Taylor crashed in qualifying Thursday actually did get out on track for a short shakedown at the end of the session after substantial repairs. He did not complete a full lap at speed before the session ended, though.
The two Mazdas also chose to sit the session out, but for different reasons. The idea of saving the engines has been broached since reliability has been an issue in the past for the AER-built engine.
LMP2 was led by PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Gabriel Aubry with a lap at 132.009 mph, good for sixth overall. That lap was one-third of a second faster than DragonSpeed’s Colin Braun. Tower Motorsport by Starworks’ Ryan Dalziel was third, followed by Performance Tech Motorsports’ Kyle Masson.
Porsche continued their chart dominance by being fastest once again in night practice. This time, it was Mathieu Jaminet who put the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR-19 on top with a lap at 124.064 mph. The lap was three-tenths of a second faster than BMW Team RLL’s Augusto Farfus. Frederic Makowiecki was third in the No. 911 Porsche with Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor close behind. Risi Competizione’s James Calado was fifth.
GT Daytona saw Wright Motorsports’ Klaus Bachler top the class with a lap at 120.760 mph in his Porsche 911 GT3 R. Despite that, they had trouble right at the end of the session when Patrick Long slowed on the banking. The car appeared to simply be out of fuel as Long shook the car in order to get some power before pulling off.
Bachler’s lap was seven-hundredths of a second faster than PFAFF Motorsports’ Dennis Olsen in a similar Porsche. Paul Miller Racing’s Andrea Caldarelli and GRT Magnus’ Marco Mapelli were third and fourth in their Lamborghinis, while Scuderia Corsa’s Alessandro Balzan, who will make his first IMSA start Saturday since Mid-Ohio in 2018, was fifth.
Practice No. 4
In the final practice session Friday (Jan. 24), the session was cut short by about 11 minutes due to a big crash for Performance Tech Motorsports’ Don Yount. No replays were immediately available, but Yount spun under braking for turn 6 (the exit of the infield) and mounted the tire barrier, nearly ending up on his side. Yount was able to exit his ORECA 07-Gibson with a little bit of help from the safety crew due to the angle that his car was on, but otherwise walked away.
Much like Thursday night, the quickest times were set very early in the session. Wayne Taylor Racing’s Kamui Kobayashi was quick early and often. On his sixth lap at speed, Kobayashi turned in a lap at 134.424 mph. That held up to be the fastest lap of the session.
Kobayashi’s lap was four-tenths of a second faster than the fully repaired No. 7 Acura with Helio Castroneves at the wheel. JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Sebastien Bourdais was third fastest, followed by Mike Conway in the No. 31 Cadillac. Chris Miller was fifth in the second JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac.
Tower Motorsport by Starworks’ Nicolas Lapierre was fastest in LMP2 with a lap at 131.811 mph, good for eighth overall. Lapierre’s lap was only two-hundredths of a second faster than Aubry. DragonSpeed’s Ben Hanley was third, while Yount was fourth quickest before his crash.
Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia topped the GT Le Mans class in his new Chevrolet Corvette C8.R with a lap at 124.473 mph, breaking the Porsche stranglehold. Garcia’s lap was two-thirds of a second faster than Porsche GT Team’s Nick Tandy. Laurens Vanthoor was third in the second Porsche, followed by BMW Team RLL’s Bruno Spengler and Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner.
Finally, GRT Grasser Racing Team’s Franck Perera was fastest in GT Daytona. Perera, who is going for his second class victory in three years, turned in a lap at 120.555 mph to lead the pack. Perera’s lap was one-eighth of a second faster than the Ferrari of Scuderia Corsa’s Toni Vilander.
Black Swan Racing’s Jeroen Bleekemolen was third fastest in his Porsche, but the fact that he was out there at all was quite the accomplishment.
All hands on deck. This stellar crew pulled an all-nighter to get the No. 54 #Porsche911GT3R track ready!
— Black Swan Racing (@BlkSwnRcng) January 24, 2020
The team required a backup car after Trenton Estep‘s crash in the opening practice session on Thursday. Estep was okay, but the car was not.
Coverage of the Rolex 24 at Daytona will start Saturday afternoon (Jan. 25) at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC. The green is scheduled to fly at 1:40 p.m. ET. From there, the race will switch between NBC, NBCSN and NBCSports.com. Subscribers to NBC Sports’ TrackPass will also have access to a stream for the full race.