Mazda Team Joest with an unofficial DPi lap record at the Roar and a positive outing for Pfaff Motorsports, WRT Speedstar Audi Sport and AIM Vasser Sullivan


That’s a wrap for the 2020 Roar before the Rolex24 as teams had seven practice sessions over the three days to prepare for the gruelling 24-hour challenge comes January 25-26.

Since track time will be more limited comes the Rolex24 at Daytona weekend, teams made the most out of the available track time as the weather, other than a very cool Sunday morning, has been quite comfortable over the three days.

From the first session on Friday, Mazda Team Joest showed their pace on top of a new livery for the #77. As per last year, lap times were very competitive throughout. On three of the seven practices, Mazda Team Joest occupied the top two positions.

Following Sunday morning practice, IMSA held a qualifying session for DPi and LMP2 class to determine pit stall and garage position for the Rolex24. Again Mazda Team Joest, with the #77 of Oliver Jarvis (GBR)/Tristan Nunez (USA)/Olivier Pla (FRA), qualified in first place with a time of 1:33.324 which makes it an unofficial lap record for Mazda Team Joest. Followed the two Acura Team Penske of Ricky Taylor/Helio Castroneves/Alexander Rossi in second and Dane Cameron/Juan Pablo Montoya/Simon Pagenaud in third.

The GTLM class introduced two new cars with the Corvette C8.R and Porsche 911 RSR – 19. BMW Team RLL have kept the same M8 GTE, one of whom is driven by Canadian Bruno Spengler. Both Porsche and BMW exchanged fastest times during the seven practice sessions but it was the Ferrari of Risi Competizione (Daniel Serra/James Calado) who came out on top during the qualifying session on Saturday with Porsche 911 (Matt Campbell/Nick Tandy GBR/Fred Makowiecki) followed by the #4 Corvette Racing (Oliver Gavin GBR/Tommy Milner/Marcel Fassler) in third.

Bruno Spengler and his teammates Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng, Colton Herta although ending up in sixth place in the qualifying session (0.336s behind the Ferrari, NDLR) were seen at the top of the time sheets in two of the seven sessions.

In the GTD class where most of our Canadian drivers and teams are present, it was again highly competitive. Teams AIM Vasser Sullivan and Pfaff Motorsports have shown they have learned from their first season as they have been competitive from the first session. WRT Speedstar Audi Sport also had performed well throughout the weekend being the sole Audi R8 in the field. As we spoke with Daniel Morad on a Friday recap at the Roar (click to see post), it seems they have a solid base to start from in preparation for the Rolex24.

Pfaff Motorsports came out with a successful weekend as they arrived for the Roar with such better understanding of the car than a year ago and this made a big difference in approaching their test program at the Roar as Zach Robichon mentioned:“If you take a look back at where we were a year ago today, the difference is night and day. As a team, everybody knows their role, and we executed exactly what we wanted to do this weekend. From my point of view, the team gelled really well with the new drivers and the new personnel, so it’s a great way to start the season.”

Recently announced, the association of the Heart Of Racing Team and Roman De Angelis is off to a good start as well with the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 program as they have completed their testing program positively.

In a weekend summary from Heart Of Racing, who also revealed their livery for the Rolex24 at Daytona, Roman De Angelis seemed pleased with his weekend: “It was great to finally be together with the team, my teammates did an awesome job all weekend helping me get used to the Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Really looking forward to going into the 24-hour race strong and I think we have a good chance to at least fight.”

When it came down to the qualifying session on Saturday afternoon, AIM Vasser Sullivan saw the #14 (Montecalvo/Bell/Van Gisbergen/Telitz) take Pole over (Mario Farnbacher/Matt McMurry/Shinya Michimi/Jules Gounon in second for Meyer Shank Racing w/Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 and Turner Motorsport’s BMW M6 GT3 (Robby Foley III/Jens Klingmann/Bill Auberlen/Dillon Machavern.

Pfaff Motorsports with drivers Zach Robichon, Dennis Olsen, Lars Kern and Patrick Pilet ended qualifying in 14th place, WRT Speedstar Audi Sport in (Daniel Morad/Mirko Bortolotti/Rolf Ineichen/Dries Vanthoor) in eight place and the Heart of Racing Team (Roman De Angelis/Nicki Thiim,/Ian James/Alex Riberas) in 15th.

Of note, #11 GRT Grasser Racing Team’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (Heistand/Schothorst/Costa Balboa/Perera) who has been topping the time sheets for most of the weekend, is in a precarious position as the car was involved in an off-track situation during Sunday morning practice and the chassis seems to have suffered heavy damages and may have to look for a new chassis to rebuild the car on time for the Rolex24.

Looking at the time sheets and at how competitive the lap times were, it remains to be seen if IMSA is to announce any adjustments to the BoP before the Rolex24. In the meantime, it is all preparation time for teams and drivers back at the shop where a lot of work awaits them.

The Rolex24 at Daytona may be in three weeks but teams have two weeks tops to get ready and head back to Daytona.

First practice for the Rolex24 is to take place at 10am on Thursday January 23rd followed by a second free practice at 12:45pm with qualifying taking place at 4:15pm on Thursday as well. A night session on Thursday is on the schedule for 7:15 start time. There will be one more practice Friday morning before race day on Saturday with a green flag scheduled for 1:35pm.

Image: Patrice Marchessault/PMstills Photography

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