Rebellion Racing topped the time sheets in the opening day of testing at the Roar Before the 24, with Neel Jani leading the way in both sessions for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The reigning FIA World Endurance Champion, in his return to the Anglo-Swiss squad, laid down a 1:39.160 lap time in the No. 13 Oreca 07 Gibson in the two-hour and 30-minute afternoon session.
Jani edged out the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca Gibson of Mathias Beche by 0.274 seconds.
It marked the Swiss driver’s debut at the 3.56-mile oval/road course, and handling driving duties solo on Friday, as Jani’s Rolex 24 co-drivers are taking part in a Formula E event in Las Vegas.
“I did the track walk yesterday and I saw the steep, oval banking of the corners and I thought, ‘Whoa, that looks quite steep! How do you drive next to each other on those?'” Jani said.
“But once you get on to it, the first few laps it was a bit strange but then you learn it. It was very special to be here the first time and P1 is always a good thing.”
The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R was third quickest on the overall time sheets, thanks to a 1:39.496 lap time set by Ricky Taylor in the morning.
Jani’s pace-setting time on Friday was nearly two seconds slower than the quickest lap set in last month’s test at Daytona, by Eric Curran in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac.
The No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson and the No. 81 DragonSpeed Oreca Gibson were fourth and fifth quickest, respectively, putting all three Oreca LMP2 cars in the top-five overall.
Joao Barbosa put the No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac sixth quickest, ahead of the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P, which reeled off a 1:40.830 lap in the hands of Jonathan Bomarito.
Tequila Patron ESM’s Scott Sharp was eighth on the time sheets, with a 1:40.973 lap in his No. 2 Nissan Onroak DPi.
Corvette Racing ended the day quickest in GT Le Mans, with Jan Magnussen’s 1:44.760 lap in the morning session standing as quickest of the day.
Magnussen edged out a trio of Ford GTs for the quickest time, with the No. 66 Ford of Dirk Mueller ending the day second quickest.
The No. 26 BAR1 Motorsports Oreca FLM09 paced Prototype Challenge, with a late flyer from Andrew Davis putting the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS on top in GT Daytona.
The only significant incident on the day came in the morning when Clark Toppe crashed the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca FLM09.
While the 2016 IMSA Prototype Lites champion was uninjured, the car sustained gearbox damage and is not expected to return until tomorrow evening as it waits on a spare unit.
A number of cars, including both Mazdas, stopped on track to also bring out red flags but later rejoined.
Saturday’s action will see a total of three test sessions for WeatherTech Championship competitors, including a night session, although rain is in the forecast for tomorrow.