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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 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. Kyle

    January 7, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    CORE, of all teams, getting parked for bagging seems a little odd. No way no one else in that class was “managing performance”.

    • Kyle

      January 7, 2018 at 5:40 pm


    • Kurt

      January 7, 2018 at 7:26 pm

      Oreca car teams were supposedly asked by Oreca to manage performance this weekend. This is two fold; Oreca likely wants the ligier pegged back for WEC and it could potentially help slow the caddies. Also, did GM tell the author they all agreed not to sandbag?! Ha! It would be a first at Roar in the last 5yrs, that’s for sure. Either way the quali was very entertaining and a good idea.

      • Dan

        January 7, 2018 at 7:54 pm

        There is zero chance GM wasn’t sandbagging in some way shape or form. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing at that. How many times have GM teams managed to “find” several seconds between the ROAR and the Rolex?

        Everyone was sandbagging the question is will IMSA do something about it?

      • Jack

        January 7, 2018 at 8:57 pm

        There are zero ligier’s currently planned for WEC

        • Kurt

          January 8, 2018 at 11:49 am

          False. The chance that zero ligiers attend Le Mans when their factory is on site is absolutely zero.

          • Justin Porter

            January 9, 2018 at 11:09 am

            The 24 Hours of Le Mans isn’t the WEC.

            As of right now, the WEC is an Oreca show, while the ELMS hosts three of four LMP2 chassis and IMSA hosts three of four LMP2 chassis.

  2. Jake

    January 7, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    So if we know that at least two of the other DPi manufacturers are managing performance, why hasnt IMSA called them out yet, or will they even? Its going to be ridiculous if they slow down Cadillac for showing true pace, and then during actuall qualifying suddenly Mazda, Acura and Nissan are capable of 35’s.

    IMSA needs to start legitimately penalizing sandbagging. Stop and hold plus 10-15 minutes during normal races 30 min in an enduro(24 hour races should get harsher penalties as laps are easily made up under yellows in IMSA) Losing practice sessions isnt that much of a penalty.

    • Barber

      January 7, 2018 at 5:53 pm

      I agree, but I’m afraid that that’s probably going to happen.

    • G Man

      January 7, 2018 at 8:40 pm

      Agree! Sandbagging is nothing more than another form of cheating, if the “true” times start showing up for qualifying or during the race,IMSA needs to be ready to hand out penalties immediately.

    • Steven

      January 7, 2018 at 9:05 pm

      Acura for sure was sandbagging, but IMSA is never gonna punish their babies of the DPi.

  3. Dan

    January 7, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    Oh give me a break, everybody in P and GTLM was sandbagging to a certain degree. No way that GM whom has long been known to sandbag particularly at the roar was the only one to not sandbag.

    • DEJ

      January 8, 2018 at 10:15 am

      Come on.. Corvette said in the article that they were drafting each other.. was that no managing performance ?

      • Cosmo DeLuca

        January 8, 2018 at 5:50 pm

        Drafting makes the car go faster than it should.

  4. G Man

    January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    So Mr Bennett and Mr Brady, is this part of the restructuring plans that you detailed in an earlier article?
    If so you left it out…

    • Ted

      January 8, 2018 at 8:35 am

      Or will he fire everyone now since he was so slow? Not his fault right?

      • G Man

        January 11, 2018 at 6:48 am

        Never is his fault when his ego is bigger than his talent to drive a car

  5. Jorden

    January 7, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    We have too great of a field to have this race hampered by sneaky manufacturers. I hope IMSA have enough data to still make an informed decision on BOP adjustments for all three class.

  6. Mike S.

    January 7, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Who cares at this point to sandbagging. It’s a long race and it has always gone on and always will in every format of racing. Its a long season and BoP will be a factor if not now for Daytona at the next adjustment. One will whine and the other will be happy and repeat and switch. Same thing get over the BoP thing we hate it but it isn’t going away either.

  7. CM-16

    January 7, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    WinckelRock doing double duty? No problem. Who else can break him?

  8. Pierre

    January 7, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    I thought there was a check in place to compare times during the Rolex24 weekend vs the Roar weekend. And if a team or car is significantly quicker, then penalties will be handed out.

  9. fernando martins

    January 8, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Maybe IMSA should determine a minimum lap time that all DPI’s and P2 must achieve in order to qualify for the race? That way teams would have to go all out or risk being left out…

  10. Kirk

    January 8, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    All I know is if I was a team showing up to the first race of the year looking to debug a new car for a 24 hour grind, the LAST thing I’d be trying to do is go flat out.

    If IMSA wants a true test of the capabilities of the cars they should make the Roar a points paying race. It could be a 90 minute race on Sunday.

    • David Chaste

      January 9, 2018 at 12:50 am

      this would be a good idea. Points towards the championship will bring everybody’s true form. Especially the championship contending teams.

  11. fourloko

    January 8, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    bmw sandbagging. their trying to say their car at 1250kg is too slow. i think ford is .1 away from their quauly time last year

    • MikeT66

      January 10, 2018 at 2:07 am

      Yes – Scott Dixon got pole in GTLM last year for Ford with 1:44.558 – this year Joey Hand managed 01:43.610.

      BMW are definitely looking some way off the pace at the moment in GTLM.

  12. Pierre

    January 8, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    I guess IMSA isn’t going to hit capacity grid like we initially thought? 50 cars will participate?

  13. David Chaste

    January 9, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    It’s a quality 50.

  14. David Chaste

    January 9, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Robert Alon was heavily criticized for the traffic jam he caused at long beach last year.

    But he got his own top line prototype car now. No shame in the game. Just go big.

    You can see the banana boat with his daddy’s company logos (PSC) adorning the car. They even have their sponsorship on the red dragon too.

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