New GTP practice session, qualifying pushed back
Due to some software changes, IMSA has added a GTP-only practice session this afternoon. That will push qualifying for next week’s Rolex 24 At Daytona back 20 minutes. GTD and GTD PRO qualifying will now start at 1:45 p.m. ET, proceeding to LMP3, LMP2 and GTP, the latter starting at 3 p.m. Qualifying will be livestreamed on Peacock.
Green track for qualifying
The qualifying drivers may have quite the challenge ahead of them for today’s qualifying session. Not only was there a decent amount of rain last night to wash away the rubber that had been laid down, but the wind has picked up considerably, blowing around 15mph with gusts to 20. The weather could serve up another curveball — there’s a slim chance of rain at qualifying time.
With a GTP field of all-new cars, the general consensus is that reliability could very well be the determining factor in a Rolex 24 victory. Thus it’s interesting to note the issues that have cropped up so far. The Porsche 963s have reportedly experienced a suspension failure and a wheel bearing issue on Friday. The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-06 had to change a fuel pump before the third session. The No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura has had a couple of issues, the first coming Friday afternoon when the pit lane speed limiter didn’t disengage, meaning a very slow lap back around to the pits to reset it. And on Saturday, the No. 60 missed the second half of the third session while a brake issue was fixed.
Neither of the BMWs nor the trio of Cadillacs seem to have experienced any significant issues that caused them to miss a large part of a session.
My other car is a …
JDC-Miller Motorsports is running an LMP3 car at the Rolex 24 while the team waits for the delivery of its Porsche 963 GTP car, now expected sometime in April. The car’s livery — mostly yellow, of course — alludes to the team’s anticipation while waiting for Porsche to deliver customer cars, with a touch of humor. Emblazoned on the sides: “My other car is a Porsche.”
Big crowds for the test
Despite the weekend being only a test other than today’s qualifying session and the VP Racing SportsCar Challenge races for LMP3 and GSX cars, crowds have turned out in droves. The Daytona International Speedway garages have been crowded with spectators, and the infield is packed with cars and camping (bolstered by the annual Boy Scout campout). Even the drivers have noticed the number of people that have turned out, one commenting that the number of people resembles a race weekend turnout of 10 years ago.
No damaged cars so far
With five test sessions and about seven-and-a-half hours of track time completed through Saturday, no WeatherTech SportsCar Championship cars have been seriously damaged in contact with other cars or barriers. While there have been a few spins, there has been no major contact. The worst incident was probably in the first session when Jordan Taylor hit a barrier in the Le Mans chicane after the steering wheel came loose on the GTD PRO No. 3 Corvette.