DragonSpeed Ends Roar Before 24 on Top

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

DragonSpeed has opened the new era of IMSA Prototype racing on top, with Ben Hanley setting the quickest time at the Roar Before the 24, the final pre-season test prior to the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The former GP2 driver reeled off a fast lap of 1:38.343 in the team’s Oreca 07 Gibson to go quickest in the three-day test, eclipsing Jonathan Bomarito’s quick time in the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P by just 0.020 seconds.

Both of the two pace-setting times were set on Sunday’s chilly morning session.

“We’ve had a great three days and just had about every weather condition, so it’s good preparation for the race,” Hanley said. “The first day it was nice and warm and then we had some rain and then it turned cold for the night session.

“It’s been a great experience for myself and the team. This is our first time here, so it was just about getting experience, learning the passing places and how busy the track is going to be in the race. It’s going to be challenging.”

Hanley will share driving duties in the race with reigning FIA WEC LMP2 champion Nicolas Lapierre, Audi factory driver Loic Duval and Florida-based Swede Henrik Hedman.

The No. 13 Rebellion Racing Oreca Gibson ended the test third quickest overall, after topping the time charts in four of the seven sessions.

Sebastien Buemi’s 1:38.408 lap set in the final session ended up as quickest for the team, just marginally ahead of teammate Stephane Sarrazin.

Sarrazin, Buemi and Nick Heidfeld all arrived for Sunday’s final day of testing after taking part in the Formula E-sponsored Las Vegas eRace.

Three Gibson-powered LMP2 cars took the top four quickest places, with the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 in fourth, ahead of the No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, which completed the top-five.

The Cadillacs, which paced last month’s test at Daytona, were virtually nowhere all weekend, until showing improved form in the final session, with Joao Barbosa getting within four-tenths of the Oreca Gibson.

The entire 12-car P class field was separated by just 1.3 seconds, including the Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi, which made its public debut.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, meanwhile, led the way in GT Le Mans with a 1-2 in class.

Ryan Briscoe was quickest, having taken his No. 67 Ford GT to a 1:44.380 lap in the penultimate session, 0.178 seconds quicker than co-driver Scott Dixon, who topped the time charts on Saturday in the same car.

The No. 69 Ford was second quickest, thanks to Tony Kanaan’s 1:44.645 lap, in the Brazilian IndyCar star’s first laps in the mid-engined supercar.

Performance Tech rebounded from an accident on Friday to go quickest in Prototype Challenge, with James French at the wheel. The spec prototype class featured only five cars at the test.

GT Daytona, meanwhile, was led by the No. 59 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, in the legendary German squad’s return to Daytona for the first time in nearly two decades.

Porsche factory driver Sven Mueller reeled off a 1:46.810 in Sunday morning’s session to go to the top of the time charts, ahead of the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Team AMG Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Jeroen Bleekemolen.

The biggest incident of the test came on Sunday morning when Marcel Fassler’s No. 4 Corvette C7.R caught fire, due to a fuel leak. The Swiss driver escaped injury but the incident sent Corvette Racing packing up early.

RESULTS: Roar Before 24 (Combined)

19 Comments

  1. Speedy

    January 8, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Cadillac’s are saving for these race.

    • guest

      January 8, 2017 at 4:48 pm

      The GM teams always are.

  2. Michael Sørensen

    January 8, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Hanley should never have been a silver

    • Avery

      January 8, 2017 at 5:54 pm

      Yeah, but because of his time out of racing.

    • David Chaste

      January 8, 2017 at 6:01 pm

      Hanley was out of racing for a while. No money no ride. Anyone out of racing for over a year who comes back is automatically a silver.

      John Edwards from BMW RLL who could have been an F1 prospect had stopped racing for years until Rahal called him for the BMW team. And he was a silver when he first came back.

      It helps drivers find employment, like it did Hanley.

      • GT3 Racer

        January 8, 2017 at 6:14 pm

        Same for DragonSpeed’s Elton Julian, went up the ladder F3, F3000 and F1 Test/reserve driver in the 90’s, then out of racing for years and when he came back in sports cars he was a silver.

  3. Not Nick

    January 8, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    I don’t think the Cadillac’s are sandbagging, this is going to be a race of who can survive 24 hours.

  4. Mike S.

    January 8, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Yeah the cars were still dyno’ed by IMSA so they have some idea of performance. Fastest car again rarely wins these endurance races.

  5. WBrowning

    January 8, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    As far as sandbagging Cadillacs, and others, only the sector times and IMSA data can tell. I figure we will find out when they announce the final BoP adjustments for the Rolex 24.

    GTLM looks like they got it pretty good on BoP with all but one car running 1:44 with the total spread arond 0.8 second, and if you throw out the slowest Porsche they were all within half a second. Should be a fun race.

    To bad about the Vette burning, but better now than in qualifying.

    • Olly

      January 8, 2017 at 8:06 pm

      Hopefully it’ll give them good luck to win it again, seeing as it happened to them at last years roar. Bad joke.

    • Steven

      January 8, 2017 at 8:16 pm

      Yeah, Le Mans test day was like that too and all of a sudden Ford and Ferrari were 3-4 seconds a lap faster than everyone.

  6. Helmuth

    January 9, 2017 at 12:45 am

    No need for BOP adjudgements in P class they close enough

  7. David Chaste

    January 9, 2017 at 5:46 am

    The Cadillacs have had aero adjutments to them since the last test day. They were going over 200 MPH and IMSA did not want cars going that fast. The Cadillacs have been given a gurney on their wings that is creating enough drag to slow them down.

    Rebellion DragonSeed and Oak Racing/ESM have the most experience with P2 cars, so they could have a clear advantage in the race, if the Cadillacs are not given some speed back.

    • Andres

      January 11, 2017 at 7:57 pm

      They want European teams racing in America, as a “revenge” for not allowing DPIs in Le Mans, and the DPIs, specially Cadillac, is able to destroy in terms of performance the new P2, that speed is not from an LMP2 car, is a top speed from an LMP1 car, that is speaking of the Cadillacs without restriction, remember the reduction in 1 mm in their air restrictors, IMSA wanted lap times around 1.35-1.37 like the Cadillacs did, but they do not want the DPIs to do that lap times, they want the P2s do that, so they boosted up the P2s

  8. Evan

    January 9, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    0ooooooooooooooh who can blow the race organizers to get the most favorable BOP?

  9. Chris Daniels

    January 9, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    GM is sandbagging. They are pacing themselves. The P cars are within 1.3 seconds. Leave BOP alone.

    • gerd frankfort

      January 10, 2017 at 10:02 pm

      FORD is sandbagging, They are pacing themselves. The P cars are within 1.3 seconds.

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