The second day of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Roar Before the Rolex 24 test is underway, and will be the busiest on-track session of three days this weekend.
There are two practice sessions during the day, at 10:50 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. ET, with a third session held at night, starting at 6:30 p.m. ET and local time. The night session is particularly important as it provides the closest replication to cold night conditions, in advance of the race week later this month.
Within the GT Le Mans class, the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT led the opening session at 1:44.095 and the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR led the second session at 1:44.065.
In both sessions, the top seven cars within the GT Le Mans class, from four manufacturers, were covered by nine tenths of a second or less.
Overall and in the Prototype class, the No. 5 Cadillac topped the timesheets.
There were also a number of press conferences in the media center, to help set the scene for the Rolex 24 at Daytona race.
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso’s appearance in this race is one of the event’s bigger story lines. Alonso has been keen to explore other forms of motorsport outside F1, and this race marks his sports car race debut with the United Autosports Prototype team. He may be in line to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans later this year and as such, wanted to have at least one sports car race under his belt.
“I know it is a very unique event in terms of 24-hour races, and Daytona is one of the most iconic races in the world,” Alonso said. “I was willing to participate once, and this time arrived this year. Hopefully this is not the last time I come here.”
One of the most iconic teams in motorsport, Team Penske, also makes its return to sports car racing after nearly a decade-long hiatus with a new Acura prototype. The team achieved a wealth of success with Porsche in its last factory program, run from 2006 through 2008. The Acura Team Penske outfit boasts a mix of sports car veterans in Dane Cameron and Ricky Taylor, who join from other teams, two recent IndyCar veterans in Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves, and two current IndyCar stars in Simon Pagenaud and Graham Rahal who are the team’s third drivers.
While these two entrants are among those that say hello to Daytona, one legend of the sport will be saying goodbye after this year’s race. Scott Pruett, who will begin his 50th year of racing competition, announced his retirement from the sport following the 2018 Rolex 24. He drives for the Lexus team in the GT Daytona class. The 57-year-old has won five Rolex 24 races overall, tied for the most all-time with Hurley Haywood.
“As an athlete, if you’re fortunate enough to have a long and successful career, and lucky enough to come to the end on your terms, then you’re truly blessed, and I am,” he said.
— Scott Pruett (@scottpruett01) January 5, 2018
— IMSA (@IMSA) January 5, 2018
Friday Times at Daytona