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Daytona Sunday Notebook

John Dagys’ final notebook from Roar Before Rolex 24 at Daytona…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***The No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca 07 Gibson was not allowed to take part in Session 6 this morning after IMSA found the car to have also exhibited “performance management” in Saturday’s night session. IMSA parked both the No. 71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 and No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 cars for the same infraction last night, on evidence of sandbagging.

***Team owner/driver Jon Bennett, a Silver-rated driver, completed qualifying duties in the CORE entry, ending up more than four seconds slower than the quickest Prototype of Felipe Nasr. The Brazilian unofficially shattered the modern era track qualifying record, with a 1:35.806 lap in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.

***Cadillacs dominated the first-ever Roar qualifying session, to determine pit lane and garage locations, having swept the top four positions and more than one-second clear of the No. 6 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 of Dane Cameron, who was best of the rest in fifth.

***Nasr, who is set for his first full-season in sports car racing, said he pushed “100 percent” on his lap. “There was nothing to hide,” he said. “We ran the most laps over the three days. We put everybody in the car and they were getting used to it again. We made use of the time, completely.”

***It’s understood all four Cadillacs took a unified approach to not withhold any performance in the session, although the same could not be said for the competition, with at least two constructors/manufacturers believed to have controlled its pace, to some degree.

***GT Le Mans class pace-setter Joey Hand admitted that a lot of variables were at play during qualifying. “You never know what’s going on,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with temperature and how the track takes rubber. There’s a lot more prototypes and the difference in tire rubbers between the GTLM Michelins and the Continentals.”

***Oliver Gavin ended up with the second quickest time in GTLM, courtesy of the two Corvette C7.Rs drafting on the oval portion. “Antonio [Garcia] and I had discussed with one another how we were going to do that session, and our engineering team talked it through with us,” Gavin said. “We had a strategy and plan, and it worked and paid off.”

***The top 18 cars in GTD, all but one of the 19 to participate in qualifying, were covered by less than 1 second. The No. 48 Paul Miller Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and No. 59 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R did not set times, with the Lamborghini having reported mechanical issues.

***The No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, meanwhile, had technical issues and also did not set a time.

***Only 43 of the 50 cars turned laps in the seventh and final test session on Sunday afternoon, with a number of teams packing up early after qualifying.

***Adjustments to the pit lane and garage allocation procedure were made on Saturday, per an IMSA bulletin, stating that multi-car entries in the same class would be placed in adjacent pix boxes determined by the fastest lap time out of both cars.

***The pit lane location for Risi Competizione, the only example of a team running cars in multiple classes,  meanwhile, has been determined by the lap time of the team’s GTD entry.

***A final list of pit lane and garage allocations have yet to be released by IMSA.

***Fernando Alonso, who turned his first laps of Daytona International Speedway this weekend in United Autosports’ Ligier JS P217 Gibson, said he didn’t find it difficult to adapt to driving at night, citing previous experience in Formula 1 grands prix in Bahrain, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi.

***Alonso said his biggest surprise from his Daytona experience was how little time he actually spent behind the wheel. “The sessions were not very long and you share the car, so you lose a little bit of time in the driver change and setup changes and I ended up doing very few laps,” he said.

***After dealing with some discomfort related to his seat belt earlier in the weekend, Alonso said that that particular problem was resolved. “The seat belts now are good. We are all happy, so that’s good,” he said.

***Montaplast by Land Motorsport has yet to determine its driver lineup for the season, according to team director Christian Land. The German squad faces three date clashes with ADAC GT Masters races, with a decision yet to be taken on how it will handle the weekends.

***The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac turned a quicker lap time than the best time set in last year’s Riley Mk. 30 Gibson within three laps on Friday. New recruit Tristan Vautier set the second quickest time in Roar qualifying on Sunday afternoon.

***Grasser Racing Team and Manthey Racing have a busy month ahead, as both teams are set to take part in next weekend’s Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai, before returning to Daytona later in the month for the Rolex 24.

***GRT’s Mirko Bortolotti, who set the quickest time in GT Daytona on Sunday, said: “We have separate crews but a lot of people will do both races. Some guys are already preparing in Dubai and some of the guys here will go there, and we’ll all together come back for Daytona.”

***Bortolitti is among the dozen-plus drivers that are set to pull double duty. Fellow Blancpain GT Series champion Christian Engelhart, co-drivers Rik Breukers, Rolf Ineichen, as well as Jeroen Bleekemolen, Markus Winkelhock, Sven Mueller, Mathieu Jaminet, Come Ledogar and Christopher Mies are others set for the 24-hour double.

***Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge competitor Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport is also making the trip to the Middle East, with a Mercedes-AMG GT4 featuring Winward drivers Bryce and Russel Ward. Indy Dontje, who is part of the team’s Continental Tire Challenge lineup, meanwhile, will be at the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Dubai.

***While GRT, Manthey and Winward/HTP head east, members of Jackie Chan DCR JOTA will make the trip west to Buriram, Thailand for next weekend’s Asian Le Mans Series race, with several Rolex 24 drivers off to Marrakesh for the next FIA Formula E Championship race, which is set for Saturday.

Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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