Set to start at the back of the DPi grid after an issue in qualifying, Filipe Albuquerque finally put the defending race-winning No. 5 Action Express Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R at the top of the chart in Friday’s final one-hour practice for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
“Statistically, we have finished P2 in each session and now P1 in the warm-up,” said Albuquerque, whose best lap was 1m34.358s in the Cadillac that he will share with fellow defending race winners Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi. It was announced Friday that co-driver Mike Conway had encountered travel problems getting to the U.S. from England and will not be able to compete this weekend.
“It was disappointing to not get a lap in [qualifying], since you miss out on the pure pleasure of driving the car when it is low on fuel, with new Michelins on it,” he added. “But I am extremely happy with the balance of the car as it is now and excited to see how it is during the race. Not participating in qualifying does not set us back, since everyone here at the team is so experienced. We only want to be on the top of the leaderboard on the last lap. We are relaxed after figuring out the issues with the car and it is a good thing that it had happened yesterday and not during the race.”
Olivier Pla was second, running a 1m34.758s in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest DPi — the sister car to Thursday’s pole winner.
Third was Pipo Derani, whose lap of 1m35.087s in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R bettered co-driver Felipe Nasr’s best lap of 1m35.244s.
The session was red-flagged at the 40-minute mark when Sebastien Bourdais locked the brakes and tagged the tire barrier with the right rear of the No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT in Turn 5, the International Horseshoe. The team then worked on damage to the rear wing, the right side and right rear of the Ford, painted in the Motorcraft tribute livery.
Enzo Guibbert was fastest in LMP2 with a 1m36.433s in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA Gibson.
Frederic Makowiecki went from the back to the top of the GTLM grid in the closing minutes to post the fastest lap of the session, 1m42.478s in the No. 911 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR. Dirk Mueller was second in the No. 66 Ford, 1m42.612s, prior to that car’s problem. Mueller was closely followed by Jan Magnussen, who set a 1m42.644s in the No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R.
Pedro Lamy charged to the top of the GTD chart in the closing minutes, running consecutive faster laps before settling with a fast time of 1m44.632s in the No. 51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3. The top six cars bettered Marcos Gomes’ track-record pole of 1m45.257s, set Thursday in the No. 13 Via Italia Racing Ferrari. Nick Cassidy was second, 1m44.846s, in the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3. Marco Seefried was third with a 1m45.073s in the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Forty-six of the 47 qualifiers participated in the session. CORE autosport opted not to run the No. 54 Composite Resources/Flexbox Nissan DPi after that car led Thursday’s night practice.
Next up for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors is the green flag for the 57th Rolex 24 at 2:35 p.m. on Saturday.