Day One (of three) at the Roar before the Rolex 24 Hours saw reigning FIA WEC World Drivers Champion Neel Jani top both track sessions in the #13 Oreca 07 Gibson of Rebellion Racing with his fastest times in the sessions showing remarkable consistency (1:39.164 seconds in FP1, 1:39.160 in FP2).
Remarkably, despite the strength of competition and experience on tap in the 13 car Prototype class grid the test marks Jani’s debut at Daytona International Speedway:
“This is my first time at Daytona ever,” Jani said. “I saw the track today, the banking and how steep it is. You wonder … how can you drive on that? But, you get used to it quite quickly.”
The second fastest time of the day came in FP2, and it was another Swiss driver, and another Rebellion Racing driver, Mathias Beche, delivering the time, 0.274 off Jani’s mark Beche a full season nominee for the Rebellion team’s FIA WEC campaign but here driving the identical #85 Oreca 07 Gibson of JDC Miller Motorsports.
Fastest of the DPis was the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac engined Dallara, 0.336 seconds off, his time set in FP1 with the PR1/ Mathiasen Ligier JS P217 Gibson the only other car within a second of the fastest time of the day.
The #70 Mazda meanwhile needs repairs after a suspension failure saw the car towed back to the garage, the team suggesting the car would be back into action tomorrow.
The #38 Performance Tech Oreca was the one major casualty of the first day after an impact with the wall reduced much of the car to its component parts, not all of which sadly survived the impact – the team waiting for key parts before they can make it back to the track.
Meanwhile Johnny Mowlem took the #26 BAR1 car to fastest time of the day in class with a 1:42.701.
Corvette and Ford took a turn at session leading form with the day’s fastest time going to Jan Magnussen in the #3 C7.R in FP1 – 1:44.760.
Dirk Muller came close to that mark in FP2 in the #66 Ford GT but fell 0.013 secs short with Andy Priaulx third fastest of the day in the sister #69 Ford 0.071 seconds off, again in FP2.
Audi’s topped both session in GTD with the #29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport R8 fastest in FP1, that time though was bettered in FP2 by Andrew Davis in the #57 Stevenson car in FP2, 1:47.553 the fastest of the day in class (the #29’s 1:47.629 in FP1 would prove to be the second fastest of the day.)
Also at the sharp end of the times were the #75 SunEnergy1 AMG GT3, 3rd fastest of the day (from FP1).