Filipe Albuquerque and Action Express ran fastest on the opening day of on-track action at the Daytona International Speedway in the Roar Before The Rolex 24 Test.
The Portuguese driver’s best lap in the Mustang-Sampling backed DPi V.R from the first two practice sessions was a 1:37.196 set in Session 2.
The second best time of the day was set by Colin Braun, in CORE Autosport’s (stickered up) ORECA 07 Gibson, just over a tenth off Albuquerque’s time in the second session.
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Completing the top three was Wayne Taylor Racing’s Cadillac, its best time also coming in the second session; a 1:37.396 set by team newcomer Renger Van Der Zande.
The top five was rounded out by the Spirit of Daytona, which had a fine first day of running with its brand new Cadillac, making it three DPi V.Rs in the top four, ahead of the #78 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07 Gibson. The two cars were still within a second of the fastest tour of the circuit.
Elsewhere in the prototype class, there were various happenings to note.
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JDC Miller’s ORECA ran for the first time in Gainsco ‘Red Dragon’ colours (above), and ended up eighth with a time of 1:38.832 in the afternoon running, set by Gustavo Menezes.
Ninth in the combined running order meanwhile, was the United Autosports #23 Ligier JS P217 of Phil Hanson, Lando Norris and of course, Fernando Alonso, all three making their Daytona on-track debuts. The trio’s best time came in the morning session; a respectable 1:38.170 from Norris. Alonso’s best lap was a 1:38.602.
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Crucially, United’s Ligier – on the public debut of the P217’s ‘Joker’ package – ran faster than the ESM Nissans, Penske Acura’s and Joest Mazdas, as well as a slew of other privateer teams running LMP2 cars.
ESM’s top Nissan the #22, ended up 10th, the best Penske Acura, the #6 ended up 12th and the fastest Joest Mazda, the #55 managed 16th in the combined running order.
While all the heavy hitters had their line-ups set heading into Roar-week, there was one late addition, Ryan Cullen joining BAR1 Motorsports.
Its Riley Mk.30 had a tougher time than most, managing just 19 laps across the two sessions, missing out completely on the opening practice. Its best time was a 1:44.792, putting the team 26th overall, and behind six of the GTLM runners.
However, it was an even worse time for the #77 Mazda Team Joest RT24P, wbich failed to make it out in Session 1, and made it out on track, but didn’t set a flying lap in Session 2. The #77 was the the only car in the 50-car field which failed to set a competitive time all day.
And so our 2018 season begins… pic.twitter.com/0KvE6i8d2G
— Mazda Motorsports (@MazdaRacing) January 5, 2018
The sister car (in video above), also didn’t set a lap in the opening session, due to the team being forced to wait for parts to be delivered.
Topping the extremely tight GTLM class was the #912 Porsche GT Team 911 GTE, Laurent Vanthoor setting the benchmark time; a 1:44.065 in Session 2.
The first of the Chip Ganassi Ford’s (the #67) slotted in second, with the #911 Porsche third, 0.030 and 0.046 off the best lap respectively.
GTD meanwhile, was led by the Grasser Racing Team on Day 1, with its #11 Lamborghini Huracan GTD of Rolf Ineichen, Mirko Bortolotti and newly signed drivers Franck Perera and Rik Breakers setting the pace.
The fastest lap from the quartet was set by Ineichen, a 1:47.104 in the opening session. His lap was just over a tenth quicker than both the Manthey racing Porsche which ended the day second, and the sister #11 GRT Lambo which book-ended the top three for the team.
The Roar Before The Rolex 24 continues tomorrow with the Day 2 action for the WeatherTech teams starting at 10:50am local time. You can listen to all the action live on IMSA Radio’s dedicated online feed for free HERE.
Porsche image courtesy of Porsche GT Team