Second session, more of the same up front…
Again it was Oz Negri to the front, making the most of Michael Shank’s new Ligier. And again, he was the only driver to get into the 1:39s.
Keeping things even more in frame with what we saw last session, it was again diversity at the top. Behind the Shank Ligier was Joao Barbosa in the Action Express Corvette, followed by Olivier Pla in the Krohn Ligier. The Krohn team is making the most of the experience that both Pla and Alex Brundle have and are ramping up the progress at a tremendous pace.
Missing from the prototype ranks in this session was both Mazda entries, this was by plan, as the team is quite content with where they are with the cars. Also missing the session was the Deltawing, which apparently is still suffering from gearbox issues and also the Starworks Prototype (engine change).
Continuing their troubled debut was Extreme Speed. In this session the No. 1 did not make it out on track at all. In a bit of a brain numbing act, the team has cruelly numbered their first car, chassis 1 as car number 2. And of course numbered chassis 2 as car number 1. Car number 2 (chassis 1) arrived at ESM headquarters in mid-December and is the car that the team used at the Roar test.
Car number 1 (chassis 2) arrived at the Roar test and the team set about getting the car ready to run. It was shook down just this last Monday at Sebring and makes its first appearance at Daytona today. Yes, it is very early in the game for ESM.
Heading into the fading minutes of the 30-minute session, it was looking like it might be a Corvette 1-2 in GTLM. It wasn’t to be, as Gianmaria Bruni vaulted the AF Corse Ferrari to the top spot on his final lap. As in the morning session, the Porsche entries are down in the later half of the class. No cause to worry, this is pretty much usual for them here and we saw what Porsche was able to do here last season.
In PC, CORE courtesy of Colin Braun was quickest, with Johnny Mowlem coming through 2nd fastest for BAR1 Motorsports. Continuing a really lousy afternoon for Peter Baron, the Starworks PC entry did not get out as it was suffering from starting issues.
Jeroen Bleekemolen pushed the Riley Viper to the front of the GTD class, in front of a herd of Porsches, led by the Wright Motorsports entry.
Notes: Wayne Taylor indicated that Le Mans is in the future for the team. In a press conference from the team, Wayne said, “we basically have everything in hand to send the final entry in on Monday. I have to wait for tomorrow because there is one part of the program that has to work. Tomorrow afternoon I should have a better understanding of where things stand.” In another snippet on the WTR Le Mans front it seems that the entry, if it happens, is very likely to feature a Nissan engine.
Head scratching question of the day. In that same WTR press conference, a journalist (quite obviously local) asked the team the following:
Jeff Gordon announced his retirement effective at the end of the season. What does he mean to you and the sport of auto racing?
After an awkward silence and some mumbling attempts at starting an answer, Wayne come through with some comments. It may not be a NASCAR race here this week, but the presence of that series is definitely felt here.
Someone give him a drive please – In qualifying for ST class of the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge, Justin Piscitell took pole for the ST class in the Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman. Nothing out of the ordinary here, except that he isn’t their regular driver. He is only in the car because one of his co-drivers was forced to miss the race due to the imminent birth of his child.
Justin, who hadn’t driven a car around Daytona until the recent Roar test found it to be quite an experience, but obviously one in which he excels. When asked why he wasn’t racing regularly, he stated, “I’m a driver coach. I don’t have the funds to get a drive. I’m around the team, because I coach some of the drivers, so whenever they are in a bind, I get the call. They’re starting to call me super-sub now.” I think they’d be better off to call him a regular driver…