***Joao Barbosa’s pole-winning time for the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona shattered the previous quickest time set by a new-generation DPi/LMP2 car by nearly one-second. A 1:37.797 set by Eric Curran in December’s test in the sister No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R was the best time at Daytona prior to Barbosa’s record-shattering 1:36.903.
***IMSA made a revision to the Balance of Performance table for the Prototype class on Thursday morning, prior to practice, with a change to the minimum angle for the rear wing main pain of the Cadillac DPi-V.R. The sanctioning body stated the original BoP table, released last week, contained a typo.
***DragonSpeed has a long night ahead, as the team rebuilds its Oreca 07 Gibson around a spare tub, following Loic Duval’s accident in Practice 2. Team principal Elton Julian told Sportscar365 they’ve yet to fully determine the cause of the accident. “I don’t care whose fault it was. The fact is that the car is broken and we’re going to try and fix it,” he said.
***The DragonSpeed Oreca, like a number of other Prototype teams, had been battling electrical issues this weekend. All P class cars, except the pair of Mazda RT24-Ps are utilizing Cosworth electronics, which have been the trouble spot, particularly with non-functional steering wheels.
***Mazda’s Riley-Multimatic-built DPi utilizes electronics from Life Racing Systems and Motec. “I guess we’re considered an outlier because no one else is on that system. But in the end, we’ve really focused on running our game and our program,” Mazda Motorsports Director John Doonan told Sportscar365.
***The No. 13 Rebellion Racing Oreca 07 Gibson battled a fly-by-wire issue in opening practice that saw the car get a late start in Practice 2. Neel Jani, however, rebounded to qualify third, the best of the LMP2-spec cars.
***Michael Shank Racing’s Andy Lally described himself as “content” after qualifying seventh in GTD, the highest of the new Acura NSX GT3 cars, but explained that they would pursue a different setup for the race after the car “handled horribly” on the infield.
***Lally added that it was Ferrari’s race to lose, although pole-sitter Alessandro Pier Guidi said that the other manufacturers had more speed in hand, citing that the Park Place Porsche lapped 0.036 seconds off the pole time in second practice.
“We have not improved so much compared to second practice, so I don’t know what the others are doing,” Pier Guidi told Sportscar365. “Maybe they are sandbagging a bit, but we did our job and we used the performance of our car. In qualifying you have to push, if the others don’t do that, it’s not a problem of mine.”
***Bruno Spengler said BMW was surprised to be 1.2 seconds off the pace in qualifying, having pursued an optimal setup. “We have the night session now to work a little bit and try to improve ourselves, but the fact is we will not find one second in the night session,” he said.
***A total of 59 drivers will be required to log laps in night practice. The list, which comprises of Bronze and Silver-rated drivers with no recent night-time experience at Daytona, can be found here.
***Memo Gidley, who returned to Daytona for the first time since his serious accident in 2014, has targeted a return to racing, having been cleared by doctors to get back behind the wheel. “I haven’t renewed my FIA license, that’s been expired for the past three years. It’s in the process of being renewed. I’ve passed all tests, and everything’s good. I’m ready to get back out there,” he said.
***The No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi took to the track Thursday after an accident during a car-to-car video shoot that damaged the left sidepod and radiator. “It was a small problem, a stupid problem, quite honestly,” Onroak Automotive team principal Philippe Dumas told Sportscar365. “Spares may be an issue so we’re trying to figure out if we have more spares.”
***Brendon Hartley is listed in both the Nos. 2 and 22 ESM entries, although the Kiwi is expected to be focused on the No. 22 car in the race. “We haven’t had the run-plan yet but I’m driving the No. 22 today,” the Kiwi told Sportscar365.
***Mark Simo has been appointed the new team manager for SunEnergy1 Racing, replacing Matt Chambers. Simo, the CEO of lifestyle brand No Fear, is also an occasional NASCAR driver.
***Maro Engel, who is part of the five-driver lineup at SunEnergy1, meanwhile, was confirmed Thursday as one of Mercedes-Benz’s DTM drivers. The German driver competed in the championship from 2008-11, having since forced his efforts on GT racing, and more recently, Formula E.
***Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Mike Conway is making his Daytona debut in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. It is the Briton’s first non-WEC appearance in U.S. sports car racing since the 2013 ALMS race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, where he finished third in LMP2 with Level 5 Motorsports.
***PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports has still yet to finalize its driver lineup for three of the ten Prototype races, with Jose Gutierrez currently not scheduled to drive at Long Beach, Detroit and CTMP. Team principal Bobby Oergel told Sportscar365 that RC Enerson, who makes his sports car debut this weekend in the team’s Ligier JS P217 Gibson, could be an option but is dependent on budget.
***While not yet made official, Nicky Catsburg and Kuno Wittmer are expected to rejoin BMW Team RLL for the Twelve Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans. Both drivers are in the No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM this weekend, as third and fourth drivers, with DTM aces Bruno Spengler and Augusto Farfus completing the lineup in the No. 19 art car.
***Chip Ganassi was honored by the Road Racing Drivers Club on Wednesday evening as the recipient of the 2017 Phil Hill Award. The award is presented annually to to a driver, entrant or outstanding member of a sanctioning body that has contributed to road racing.
***Seven people, meanwhile, were announced Thursday as inductees to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, including Scott Pruett (Sports Cars) and Brock Yates (At Large). Other lumanries included Steve Kinser (Open Wheel) and Terry Labonte (Stock Cars).
James Newbold and Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report