The Roar Before the Rolex 24 test isn’t so much a pace-setting exercise for teams in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as it is a chance to practice a combination of factors in advance of the Rolex 24 at Daytona itself.
Sure, the headlines will always focus on lap times because that is the easiest and most assured measure to calculate. However, it ignores the process of the test: a chance to shake off the rust that may have accumulated over the winter months, an opportunity to mesh as a collective unit, run through a gamut of media responsibilities, practice pit stops and driver changes and get back to running in consistent traffic.
“You just need to learn as much as you can,” explained Antonio Garcia, co-driver of the No. 3 Corvette C7.R, and who won last year’s GT Le Mans class championship co-driving with Jan Magnussen at Corvette Racing.
“There might be points in the middle of the night where it’s as cold as it can be. You need to interpret all the data you have and convert it to the conditions for the weekend.
“This is more of a first test to get everyone up to speed. You have to get on pace, basically, and then for whatever happens, you have to be prepared.”
Neither Garcia nor Magnussen completed the most laps in the GTLM field this test, but they performed their usual checks and aided their teammates in their first sign of team effort for the season on Sunday: being used as a lead car in a draft to help the sister No. 4 Corvette C7.R set a better lap time in the qualifying session.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what the five GTLM teams did during the test:
The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team led five of the six practice sessions they participated in.
Joey Hand the posted fastest lap of weekend in GTLM, at a 1:43.610 in qualifying in the No. 66 Ford GT.
Between the two cars, there were 300 laps completed (150 for No. 66 Ford GT with Hand 66 laps, Sebastien Bourdais 44 and Dirk Mueller 40 and 150 for No. 67 Ford GT, Ryan Briscoe 82 laps, Scott Dixon 42, Richard Westbrook 26).
Its best result was second in the qualifying session, with Oliver Gavin clocking in at 1:43.640 in his No. 4 Corvette C7.R.
All six of its drivers completed at least 50 laps or more during weekend, and with 396 laps total, this was the most among GTLM manufacturers at the test.
Here’s the list of the near 400 laps completed (199 for No. 4 Corvette C7.R with Marcel Fassler 72 laps, Tommy Milner 65, Gavin 62 and 197 for No. 3 Corvette C7.R, Jan Magnussen 74, Antonio Garcia 69 and Mike Rockenfeller 54).
Porsche was the only manufacturer other than Ford to lead a session. Porsche led the second and seventh sessions, both times with its No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR.
For the week, Earl Bamber posted the team’s fastest lap at 1:43.888, fourth in qualifying.
There were 373 laps completed between the two cars (204 for No. 912 Porsche with Laurens Vanthoor 89, Bamber 67, Gianmaria Bruni 48, 169 for No. 911 Porsche with Patrick Pilet 65, Nick Tandy 59, Fred Makowiecki 45).
Alessandro Pier Guidi was Risi Competizione’s lone driver on site in GTLM with Toni Vilander and James Calado both unavailable. Vilander’s wife had a baby, which was good reason for him to miss!
He completed 146 laps, which was 57 laps more than any other GTLM driver during the week.
Pier Guidi is last year’s GT Daytona polesitter at Rolex 24, and he finished on the podium in his Risi debut last fall at Motul Petit Le Mans.
There was limited running between the team’s two new M8 GTEs, but a lot of learning accomplished.
The team integrated new full-season drivers Connor De Phillippi and Jesse Krohn into its lineup, along with its returnees and additional endurance drivers.
IMSA listed 215 laps completed for the two BMWs (161 for No. 25 BMW M8 GTE, Alexander Sims 52, Bill Auberlen 44, De Phillippi 33, Philipp Eng 32 and 54 for No. 24 BMW M8 GTE, Augusto Farfus 20, John Edwards 12, Nicky Catsburg 11, Krohn 11)
LAP TIMES BY DRIVER