Nearly three seconds slower than his teammates in Friday’s morning session, Kamui Kobayashi proved to be a quick learner in the Roar Before the Rolex 24 afternoon window.
Kobayashi turned a lap of 1m36.595s to lead the 90-minute afternoon round, driving the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R he shares with Fernando Alonso, Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande.
While the session began in balmy 80-degree temperatures, conditions quickly deteriorated, with heavy rain falling throughout the last half-hour and finally halting the activity with two minutes remaining.
Prior to Kobayashi’s fast lap, Mazda Team Joest seemed poised to complete a sweep of the day. Jonathan Bomarito wound up second fastest in the No. 55 Mazda DPi with a 1m36.604s, followed by Timo Bernhard in the No. 77 Mazda at 1m36.838s. Earlier in the day, Bernhard posted the best lap of the day with a 1m35.989s.
“We’re sticking to our test plan,” said Bomarito. “We have a lot of points to run through, getting all of our drivers seat time. The car has been reliable so far, and we’re pretty quick. We’ve made changes in almost every aspect of the program, but it has been smooth. We’ve done a lot of testing in the off-season. We’ve shown up here pretty prepared, and already starting to jell really well.”
After missing the morning session, the No. 54 CORE autosport Nissan DPi ran 22 laps. Colin Braun was eighth quickest overall, with a best lap of 1m37.522s.
Gabriel Aubry set the fastest LMP2 time for the second straight session in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA, running a 1m39.575s. Three of the four cars in the new WeatherTech Championship class participated.
Davide Rigon had the best lap of the day in GTLM in the afternoon, going 1m44.718s in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE. He was followed by Ryan Briscoe’s 1m44.849 in the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing GT, and Antonio Garcia’s 1m44.882s in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R.
“We worked on the car after P1 and we found a good balance on the setup, so we were pretty happy,” Rigon said. “We tried the new tires. We don’t have all the data yet to know if that’s what helped us be the fastest.
“We are doing our program and driving like IMSA asked to show our potential, so we can be fair. The guys are continuing to work on the car, so we can have the best car as possible for the race. We are happy about our work and improving step by step. Miguel [Molina] will drive more tomorrow since he didn’t do the afternoon session. He was here for the Michelin test here in December, so he’s had some time in the car and with the new tires.”
Jeroen Bleekemolen swept the day in GTD in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3, bettering his morning time with a lap of 1m46.452s He was followed by Daniel Serra in the No. 51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 with a 1m46.786s, and Jens Klingmann in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, 1m47.004s.
Although there were no incidents, the session was red-flagged several times for tow-ins, and was finally ended two minutes early due to the conditions.
Saturday’s WeatherTech Championship on-track activity begins with a one-hour session at 10 a.m. ET, followed at 11 a.m. by a 15-minute GTD-only session. The second WeatherTech practice will run from 3:35-4:20 p.m., followed by a 15-minute GTD qualifying round to set garage and pit positions for the Rolex 24. There will also be a three-hour Prototype Challenge race, starting at 12:15 p.m. Activity concludes with a 75-minute night practice at 6:45 p.m.
On Sunday, a pair of practices at 10:30 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. will sandwich qualifying for GTLM at 11:50 a.m. and the two Prototype classes at 12:15 p.m.