Sports Car – Mazda roars loudest at the Roar Before the 24

Sports Car – Mazda roars loudest at the Roar Before the 24


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Compiled by Gary Becker, Photographs by Blake Blakely
The Roar Before the Rolex 24 was held over the weekend. The annual three-day test, affording IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams prime preparation for the 57th anniversary running of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA on Jan. 26-27, opened on Friday at Daytona International Speedway. Forty-seven cars and a small army of drivers were on scene for the kickoff for IMSA’s 50th anniversary season.

British driver Harry Tincknell posted the fastest practice lap of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Sunday, underscoring Mazda’s dominance of the three-day test at Daytona International Speedway as teams prepared for the 57th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA on Jan. 26-27, the season-opening race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Mazda entries in the WeatherTech Championship’s headlining DPi class posted the fastest laps in four of the seven practices over the weekend. Mazdas also finished 1-2 in a special qualifying session held to determine pit stall selection for the Rolex 24. Tincknell rang up a lap clocked at 1:34.224 seconds on the 3.56-mile road course in the sixth practice, in the No.55 Mazda DPi of Mazda Team Joest.

The Roar Before the 24 started with two practices on Friday for the four WeatherTech Championship classes: DPi, LMP2, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona. Oliver Jarvis led the first Rolex 24 practice in a Mazda DPi, with a fast lap of 1:35.989. Second fastest overall was Jordan Taylor No.10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. with a lap of 1:36.407 followed by the second No.55 Mazda driven by Harry Tincknell lapping at 1:35.449. The No.52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA with Gabriel Aubry at the wheel led LMP2 with a lap of 1:39.828 followed in class by the No.38 Performance Tech Motorsports car of Kris Wright at 1:41.380.

In GTLM it was all Porsche with the No.911 Porche 911 RSR of Patrick Pilet leading the class with a lap of 1:44.866. Porsche teammate Earl Bamber was second quick in class in the No.912 Porsche at 1:45.028 followed by No.66 Ford GT of Dirl Mueller at 1:45.153. In GTD the No.33 Riley Motorsports – Team AMG Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Jeroen Bleekemolen was class quickest at 1:47.188 followed by the No.51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 of Pedro Lamy lapping at 1:47.302 and the No.63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 of Toni Vilander at 1:47.729.

The second session on Friday was topped by Kamui Kobayash in the No.10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. at 1:36.596/132.670. Wayne Taylor Racing has brought another all-star lineup to Daytona International Speedway and now, it’s clear the organization has another Rolex 24 At DAYTONA championship contender. Fernando Alonso and his teammate from Toyota’s World Endurance Championship team, Kamui Kobayashi along with WTR regulars Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande for the Jan. 26-27 endurance classic that opens the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season have been quick all weekend long in the No.10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R.

“In Formula 1, it’s all about qualifying and the first lap and the first corner,” Alonso said. “Here, it’s all about consistency and traffic management and keeping the car safe. It’s challenging, but it’s part of the process. Last year here, it was about preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This year it’s about winning. And it’s definitely a possibility that I could race at different venues in IMSA in the future and maybe a championship one day.”

Alonso’s teammate Jordan Taylor says his “one-off” teammates are coming along at the perfect time.

“There’s a lot to learn and a lot to adjust to [for new 2019 rules],” Taylor said. “I think having Kamui and Fernando can help expedite that learning process a lot. They all have 24-hour experience and understand these races are won in the last couple of hours.”

Mazda kept up the heat on Friday afternoon with the No.55 Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi of Jonathan Bomarito second overall at 1:36.604 and the No.77 Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi of Timo Bernhard third fastest at 1:36.838. In LMP2 the No.52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA of Gabriel Aubry led the class with a lap of 1:39.575.

Friday’s afternoon GTLM session was led by the No.62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of Davide Rigon lapping at 1:44.718. Second in class was the No.67 Ford GT of Ryan Brisco with a circuit of 1:44.849. The No.3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia was third on the charts with a lap of 1:44.882. Once again GTD was led by the No.33 Riley Motorsports – Team AMG Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Jeroen Bleekemolen with a lap of 1:46.452. The No.51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 of Daniel Serra and the No.96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 of Jens Klingmann at 1:47.004.

Saturday morning saw the sun break through after a night of rain but the sunshine brought along with it cooler temps and windy conditions. As with the morning before it was a Mazda atop of the morning’s time sheets with the No.55 Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi of Harry Tincknell pacing the field with a lap of 1:34.925. the No.10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. Cadillac DPi of Fernando Alonso was second fastest overall at 1:35.052 followed by the second Mazda, the No.77 of Oliver Jarvis was third at 1:35.550. In LMP2 the No.52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA was again fastest in class this time with Matthew McMurry posting a lap of 1:38.107.

GTLM was led by the No.912 Porsche of Mathieu Jaminet at 1:43.862 followed by the No.3 Corvette of Antonio Garcia at 1:43.869 and the No.911 Porsche of Frederic Makowiecki at 1:43.991. In GTD the No.540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R of Matteo Cairoli set the class mark at 1:45.919 followed by the No.86 Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 of AJ Allmendinger at 1:45.945 and the No.51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 of Daniel Serra at 1:46.055.

On Saturday afternoon, van der Zande posted the fastest lap of the Roar to that point with a lap of 1:34.534 equating to 135.563 mph on the 3.56-mile road course. The No.7 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi of Ricky Taylor broke into the top three for the first time of the weekend with a lap of 1:35.017 followed by the No.5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi of Mike Conway at 1:35.304. In LMP2 the No.81 DragonSpeed ORECA of Nicolas Lapierre showed some muscle leading the class with a lap of 1:36.553.

In GTLM the No.67 Ford GT of Richard Westbrook was the class of the class with a lap of 1:43.148. The No.911 Porsche of Patrick Pilet was second at 1:43.223 followed by the No.66 Ford GT of Sebastien Bourdais with a lap of 1:43.431. In GTD the No.86 Acura of Trent Hindman led the class with a lap of 1:45.533 followed by the No.57 Acura of Katherine Legge at 1:46.328 and the No.11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Mirko Bortolotti with a lap of 1:46.433.

For the second-straight year during the Roar, IMSA has spiced up the schedule by having teams qualify for Rolex 24 pit-road selections. On Saturday, qualifying was held for the production car-based GT Daytona class. Bia Figueiredo, part of an all-female team from Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian topping the chart with a lap of 1:45.537. The No.12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 of Frank Montecalvo qualified second in class with a lap of 1:45.587 followed by Trent Hindman in the second Acura, No.86, with a lap of 1:45.657.

Saturday night practice was led by the No.55 Mazda of Jonathan Bomarito at 1:34.533 followed by the No.77 Mazda of Oliver Jarvis at 1:34.977 and the No.31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi of Pipo Derani at 1:35.179. LMP2 was again led by Gabriel Aubry in the No.52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports machine with a lap of 1:36.990.

GTLM again saw a Porsche atop the time sheets this time with the No.911 of Nick Tandy posting a class best of 1:42.402. Second in GTLM was the No.912 Porsche of Earl Bamber at 1:43.524 and the No.66 Ford GT of Sebastien Bourdais at 1:43.718. In GTD the No.13 Via Italia Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Victor Franzoni posted a 1:45.842 to pace the class followed by Daniel Serra in the No.51 Ferrari at 1:45.954 and No.71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Maximilian Buhk at 1:46.008.

Sunday morning was bright and sunny and cold but the weather could not cool off Mazda Team Joest. Harry Tincknell was once again the man of the session with a lap of 1:34.224 in the No.55 Mazda followed by the No.77 Mazda of Oliver Jarvis at 1:34.616. Eric Curran was third quick in the No.31 Whelen Cadillac at 1:34.821. LMP2 saw the No.81 DragonSpeed ORECA of Ben Hanley set the class standard at 1:35.975.

Richard Westbrook led the morning GTLM session in the No.67 Ford GT with a lap of 1:43.083 followed by the No. 3 Corvette of Jan Magnussen at 1:43.506 and the No.66 Ford GT of Joey Hand at 1:43.571.

It was all Mazda during qualifying for DPi, LMP2 and GTLM. The No.77 Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi of Oliver Jarvis was fastest with a lap of 1:33.398 followed by the No.55 Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi of Harry Tincknell at 1:33.423. Third fastest was the No.7 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi of Ricky Taylor at 1:34.261.

“Big thanks to Mazda Team Joest.” said Jarvis The car was an absolute joy to drive. We ran in full qualifying spec, and in that configuration, it felt incredible. You could really push the car to its limits, and that’s what us drivers live for – that feeling of getting everything out of the car. It’s a first step on what we want to achieve which is the outright victory.”

Qualifying for LMP2 was led by the No.52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA of Gabriel Aubry with a circuit of 1:35.930 followed by the No.81 DragonSpeed ORECA of James Allen with a lap of 1:36.304.

In GTLM the No.3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R of Jan Magnussen posted to top the class followed by the No.67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Richard Westbrook at 1:42.779 and the No.66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of at Joey Hand 1:42.898.

The seventh and last session of the Roar Before the 24 saw the No.54 CORE autosport Nissan DPi of Loic Duval post the fastest time with a lap of 1:35.176. Following Duval was Jonathan Bomarito in the No.55 Mazda with a lap of 1:35.283 and No.85 JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac DPi of Devlin DeFrancesco with a lap of 1:35.579. In LMP2 the No.81 DragonSpeed ORECA of Nicolas Lapierre lead the class with a lap of 1:36.188.

“The test started a little slow because we had some things we needed to learn and the first day was not ideal, which is normal for a new car.” said Duval We were able to do laps in every condition: rain, dry, day time, night time. The car is more powerful compared to the LMP2 we ran last year, which helps a lot for overtaking cars in traffic. It was a positive first test. We still have a long way to go, but everyone on the team is very happy.”

The final session for GTLM had the No.911 Porsche once again atop the time sheets this time with Patrick Pilet posting a class quick lap of 1:43.848. The No.3 Corvette of Antonio Garcia was second quickest in class at 1:43.977 and the No.912 Porsche of Mathieu Jaminet was third at 1:44.079.

Your copy of the results:

Session 1 – Session 2 – Session 3 – Session 4 – Session 5 – Session 6 – Session 7 – Qualifying GTD

Qualifying DPi, LMP2, GTLM

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