On a day when Michael Shank Racing formally confirmed its 24 Hours of Le Mans program as well as the possibility of an extra FIA WEC race, it picked up from where it did last year at Daytona in terms of leading sessions.
Shank’s No. 60 Ligier JS P2 Honda, which topped all pre-Rolex 24 at Daytona practice sessions in 2015, led both of Friday’s two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice sessions at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test.
Ozz Negri set a 1:39.655 in the first session with Olivier Pla lowering the mark to 1:39.445 in the second, afternoon session for the fastest lap of the day.
Most of the faster times were set in the afternoon. Tequila Patron ESM slotted into second with its own Ligier JS P2 Honda, with team newcomer Pipo Derani setting the car’s fastest time on his first day at 1:40.328. Sean Rayhall, a newcomer to DeltaWing, ended third at 1:40.420.
Jordan Taylor turned in the fastest lap among Daytona Prototype-spec cars at 1:40.474 in the afternoon session.
The No. 37 SMP Racing BR01 Nissan impressed in the morning with a best time of 1:40.808, which was good for third fastest.
Both Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and Action Express Racing had incidents, with the No. 01 Riley-Ford of Lance Stroll’s accident in the morning session taking that car out the rest of the day. After a minor and rare incident from Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP in the Bus Stop, that car returned to action.
CORE autosport led both sessions in Prototype Challenge. Colin Braun’s 1:42.423 from the morning led the day in the No. 54 Oreca FLM09.
In GT Le Mans, BMW Team RLL led both sessions in the 1:45 range. Lucas Luhr took the No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM to the top in the morning at 1:45.088 with Augusto Farfus fastest in the afternoon, but slightly slower than Luhr for the day at 1:45.120 in the team’s No. 25 car.
The Corvette Racing Corvette C7.Rs and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs gave chase, and weren’t far off. The No. 4 Corvette was second in the morning with the No. 66 Ford third, and their respective sister cars (No. 3 Corvette and No. 67 Ford) were third and fourth in the afternoon, behind the two BMWs.
Ferrari wasn’t far off either, with Gianmaria Bruni setting the best time of the day for a new 488 GTE at 1:45.438, good enough for fifth in the afternoon in the No. 72 SMP Racing entry.
Porsche ended just under a second off of BMW, with a 1:45.971 the best time of the day for a Porsche 911 RSR and set by Fred Makowiecki.
Corvette’s No. 4 car failed to return in the afternoon; the team reported in the morning that fuel escaped the check valve, got hot, and ignited, which caused a brief fire.
A pair of tried-and-true endurance GT3 cars led the way in the new-look GT Daytona class.
Raffaele Giammaria took the No. 51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 to the top of the class near the end of the second session at 1:48.358, ahead of Jeroen Bleekemolen’s No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R at 1:48.612.
Of the new FIA GT3 cars, the No. 28 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 was third at 1:48.700, with the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS and No. 16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 rounding out the top five.
Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge
Multimatic Motorsports’ single Ford Shelby GT350R-C led Friday’s two test sessions at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
Scott Maxwell, who will share the No. 15 car with Billy Johnson, set the fastest lap of the day in second practice at 1:57.765.
The fastest of the new Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsports, Kyle Marcelli in the No. 21 Muehlner Motorsports America entry, clocked in third overall at 1:58.715.
DeMan Motorsport, which also has a new Cayman GT4, led the way for the day in ST at 2:05.850. Philip Bloom and Ethan Low are sharing the No. 11 Porsche Cayman at this test, with Low setting the day’s fastest lap.
A total of 24 cars took time on Friday, with Rennsport One not turning laps with its two newly entered Porsche Caymans in ST. In all, there are 15 Porsches (four Cayman GT4 Clubsports, one Porsche 997 and 10 ST-spec Caymans) of the 26 cars now entered this week.