Times continued to improve Saturday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway at the pre-season Roar Before the Rolex 24. Renger van der Zande ran a best lap of 1m34.534s in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R., pacing the 45-minute session and edging closer to P.J. Jones’ all-time record of 1m33.875s, set in 1993 in a Toyota Eagle GTP.
Van der Zande and teammates Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi and Jordan Taylor have each finished a Roar session near the top of the speed chart.
Finishing second in Saturday afternoon’s fourth IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship session was Ricky Taylor, who set a 1m35.017s in the No. 7 Team Penske Acura DPi, followed by Mike Conway’s 1m35.304s lap in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Defending WeatherTech Series champion Felipe Nasr of Action Express feels there is big reason for the increase in speeds.
“We get a second [per lap] from the new Michelin tires,” said Nasr, driver of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. “You can feel the difference all the way around – better braking, better traction and more grip. We’ve got a lot more speed. We really feel a lot more connected with the tire. Everyone is still learning the tire – to see how they can optimize the setup.”
Nicolas Lapierre put the No. 81 DragonSpeed ORECA Gibson on top of the LMP2 chart for the first time with a lap of 1m36.553s.
Scott Dixon was fastest in GTLM with a 1m43.148s lap in the defending race-winning No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, while Trent Hindman put the No. 86 Turner Motorsport Liqui Moli BMW M6 GT3 atop the GTD chart for the first time with a 1m45.553s.
The 45-minute session was followed by a 15-minute qualifying session for the GTD competitors – with pit road and garage assignments for the Jan. 26-27 Rolex 24 At Daytona on the line. Dominik Baumann posted a Roar-best lap of 1m45.406s in the No. 71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3. However, with the session limited to Bronze- and Silver-rated drivers, the Gold-rated Baumann’s times were disallowed.
As a result, Bia Figueiredo (who raced in IndyCar as Ana Beatriz) set the fast time in the No. 57 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Caterpillar Acura NSX GT3 with a 1m45.537s. She was followed by Frankie Montecalvo’s 1m45.587s lap in the No. 12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3, and Hindman’s 1m45.657s.
“They told me to drive as fast as I could — so that’s what I tried to do,” said Figueiredo, racing at Daytona for the first time. “It shows we’ve got a very good car, and a really strong team. To be part of the show is really nice, and I’m very happy.”
Paul Dalla Lana – who hit the tire barrier in the West Horseshoe late in the fourth session – was able to have the No. 51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 repaired in time to get in one lap of qualifying. He managed to time in 20th of the 21 cars to participate.
Saturday’s activities will conclude with night practice from 6:45-8 p.m.