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)