Brazilian driver Pipo Derani stole the headlines and the thunder in the final session of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test, capping off an impressive debut weekend with his team and at Daytona International Speedway.
Derani set a 1:39.249 during the final session in the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier JS P2 Honda, which was almost two tenths clear of Ozz Negri to stand as the best lap of the weekend at the 3.56-mile circuit.
It’s Derani’s first time at Daytona, ahead of his WeatherTech Championship debut later this month in the Rolex 24 at Daytona itself.
Negri’s best lap of the weekend was a 1:39.438 in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda, while teammate Olivier Pla ended both Friday and Saturday quickest overall. Shank’s car still ended fastest in four of the seven sessions.
Most of the weekend’s fastest times came on Sunday, with several other teams dipping into the 1:39 range.
Six cars did so in Sunday morning’s sixth session, including the SMP Racing BR Engineering BR01 Nissan, both Mazda Prototypes, and the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing and No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DPs.
The DeltaWing DWC13 coupe joined them in the 1:39 bracket Sunday afternoon, with Andy Meyrick posting a 1:39.975 near the end of the final session.
Overall, the top eight cars ended in the 1:39 range for the weekend, and the top five cars were LMP2-spec cars. After the two Ligier JS P2 Hondas, the two Mazdas and the BR01 Nissan completed the top five.
Cars that will look to improve from this Roar test are the pair of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Fords and the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP. Ganassi’s No. 01 and No. 02 car had an incident apiece during the weekend, while the Visit Florida entry fought through engine and gearbox issues.
Jack Hawksworth ended fastest in Prototype Challenge for the weekend, with a best time of 1:42.118 in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Oreca FLM09 coming in the final session of the weekend.
Starworks led three of the seven sessions with Hawksworth’s time best in the car he will share for the race with Renger van der Zande, Alex Popow and Chris Cumming. CORE autosport also led three sessions, and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports led one.
GT Le Mans saw a good amount of variety at the top of the leaderboard throughout the weekend.
Corvette Racing led three sessions, BMW Team RLL three and Scuderia Corsa one, while Ford Chip Ganassi Racing was within one or two tenths of the leaders in nearly all sessions.
Ultimately, Lucas Luhr’s 1:45.088 in the No. 100 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM stood as the fastest time of the weekend in class. Best times ran between 1:45.088 and 1:45.266 in six of the seven sessions; only in the Saturday evening session was the best time outside of that two-tenth window.
The pair of Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSRs slotted in further back, albeit rarely more than three to five tenths off the leaders in any session.
Four different manufacturers led GT Daytona during the weekend, with Leh Keen setting the fastest time of the weekend in the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R Sunday morning at 1:47.852.
Damien Faulkner impressed in the Sunday afternoon session with 1:47.960 in the No. 93 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R, which was the only other session-leading time in the 1:47 range.
Stevenson Motorsports snuck up to second in the final session with its No. 6 Audi R8 LMS, being driven by all four of its full-season drivers, with a best time of 1:48.018.
Other class-leading entries during the weekend included the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, No. 51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, No. 28 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 and No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
After a chaotic opening day of practice that saw several marquee entries encounter issues, the test calmed during Saturday’s and Sunday’s sessions, with fewer incidents.
The only incident of note on Sunday occurred during the morning session, with Dirk Mueller going off and sustaining minor nose damage to the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT. The car returned to the track in the afternoon with a new nose assembly.