The headline of the day came in Qualifying for the prototype runners at Daytona, Mazda (unofficially) breaking the circuit record with its #77 RT-24P. Surrounding that frantic 15 minutes of muscle-flexing though, the DPi, LMP2 and GTLM runners all took part in two more test sessions, one in the morning before Qualifying, then one to finish off the event in the afternoon.
Predictably, Mazda topped the testing times on the final day, the best time coming in the morning, improving on Saturday’s pace before Oliver Jarvis climbed into the #77 and ran riot in the Qualifying session.
The #55 was the fastest car in Session 6 to open the day, with a 1:34.224, leading a 1-2, Jarvis taking second with a lap of 1:34.616 at the end of the session.
Behind it was the best of the Cadillacs which have proven to be the only real challengers to Mazda in pace terms this weekend. At this stage though, that means little, as Penske’s Acuras are still very much capable of producing strong times around the Speedway.
The fastest of the Cadillacs was the #31 Action Express example, Eric Curran producing a 1:34.821 to better Filipe Albuquerque in the sister #5 car.
Ben Hanley led the LMP2 competitors with what would prove to be the second-best P2 lap of the weekend, a 1:35.975 in the #81 DragonSpeed ORECA Gibson, the Briton just a tenth off the quickest time in the class during the Roar, set by Gabriel Aubry in Qualifying.
Richard Westbrook took the top spot in GTLM, with a rapid 1:43.083s in the #67 Ganassi Ford GT, the best GTLM time of the two test sessions on Sunday. It wasn’t the quickest GTLM time of the event though, that was Jan Magnussen’s 1:42.651 tour of the circuit in GTLM Quali.
The final session of the weekend came after Qualifying, and just 15 cars turned laps, with the pace not improving as the proceedings began to wind down. The session was topped by the #54 CORE Nissan DPi, Loic Duval setting a 1:35.176 late on in the session, an encouraging sign for the team which is still getting to grips with its new chassis.
Instead of gunning for times, the teams that took to the speedway used it as a chance to rack up another handful of laps before shifting their focus to the Rolex 24 itself in two weeks time.
So that wraps up the 2019 Roar, which has left us with lots of question marks and the prospect of a classic Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona at the end of the month, with record-breaking pace now expected, an entry list packed with talent and a huge crowd set to rock up for the week.
Strap yourselves in race fans, this year’s Rolex could well be one to remember!