The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team established the benchmark in pace for the GT Le Mans class at this weekend’s Roar before the 24 test, with its pair of Ford GTs entrenched at the top of the charts.
Sunday witnessed the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship introduce a new element to the Roar weekend, with a morning qualifying session established for teams to run for the best pit and garage position for the Rolex 24 at Daytona itself.
The No. 66 Ford GT, driven by Joey Hand, led the GTLM class field in the qualifying session with the best class time of the weekend at 1:43.610. Hand co-drove with Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais to victory in last year’s Rolex 24, and the same trio will look to repeat that performance to kick off the 2018 season.
Hand edged Oliver Gavin in the first of two Corvette C7.Rs, with a best time of 1:43.640 only three one-hundredths of a second back. Gavin will share his No. 4 car with Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler.
With the second Ford in third, the “Blue Oval brigade” will have the best picks for position within the field.
The top six cars in class, which included four different manufacturers, were separated by just over four tenths of a second.
It bodes well for a competitive race week itself, although the potential exists for IMSA to implement some Balance of Performance adjustments following a parsing of the data from the Roar test.
— Ford Performance (@FordPerformance) January 7, 2018
For the week, Ford led five of the six practice sessions it participated in, plus qualifying.
Porsche led both the second session on Friday and the seventh and final session on Sunday afternoon, by which point Ford had packed up early after a successful test session.
— Porsche GT Team IMSA (@PorscheNAracing) January 7, 2018
— Michelin Alley (@MichelinAlley) January 7, 2018
The series returns to Daytona in 17 days with the beginning of the Rolex 24 at Daytona race week sessions itself.
Sunday qualifying session