The top six DPi competitors were separated by a mere 0.485s as IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors returned to action following a three-day break Thursday morning to begin official practice for the 59th Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Renger van der Zande led the one-hour session with a lap of 1m34.649s in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, edging Mike Conway in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac (-0.082s). Harry Tincknell was third in the No. 55 Mazda RT24P (-0.137s), followed by Ricky Taylor (-0.172s in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05), Loic Duval (-0.314s) in the No. 5 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac), and Simon Pagenaud (-0.485s in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac). The session was run under sunny skies with chilly 54-degree temperatures.
NASCAR and IndyCar visitors Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson ran laps in the closing minutes of the session, joined by recent F1-to-IMSA convert Kevin Magnussen.
Last weekend, the Roar Before The Rolex 24 featured three days of testing, qualifying and a special 100-minute qualifying race to set the grid for Saturday’s twice-around-the-clock classic. Teams have three sessions on Thursday and a one-hour practice on Friday. The race is set to take the green flag at 3:40 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Nicolas Lapierre turned the fastest LMP2 lap, 1m36.153s on his final lap in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07-Gibson. Ben Hanley was second in the No. 81 DragonSpeed ORECA (-0.194s). Austin McCusker was best in the new LMP3 division, 1m42.416s in the No. 91 Ligier JS P320, followed by Matt McMurry (-0.439s).
Corvettes went 1-2 in GTLM. Tommy Milner was quickest in the silver No. 4 Corvette C8.R, followed by teammate Antonio Garcia (-0.296s). Davide Rigon was third in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE (-0.430s).
Billy Johnson led the 19-car GTD assault, 1m45.822s in the No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3. Earl Bamber was second in the No. 88 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3R (-0.042s), followed by Matt Campbell in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche (-0.060s), Andy Lally in the No. 44 Magnus with Archangel Acura NSX GT3 (-0.238s) and Jack Hawksworth in the No. 14 VasserSullivan Luxus RC F GT3 (-0.271s). The top 13 cars were separated by 0.558s.
The red flag waved seven minutes into the session for the No. 111 GRT Grasser Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Mirko Bortolotti, which pulled off in speedway Turn 1. That car returned to run five laps later in the session. There was a second red flag with 11 minutes remaining when Cody Ware pancaked the tire barrier at the exit of the Chicane in the No. 51 RWR-Eurasia Ligier LMP2. He was able to continue, with the session continuing following a brief delay.
Ryan Hardwick will not drive in Saturday’s Rolex 24 after suffering a concussion in an incident during Wednesday’s opening Michelin Pilot Challenge practice that badly damaged the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman Clubsport. That car was withdrawn from Friday’s race.
Hardwick was kept overnight at a local hospital for observation. His place on the No. 16 Wright Motorsports 1st Phorm Porsche 911 GT32R will be taken by Trent Hindman. Hardwick set the fastest GTD time in last Saturday’s Roar qualifying for the Total 100 qualifying race, but totaled the car during that evening’s practice. Wright Motorsports made arrangements with Black Swan Racing to use that team’s backup chassis in the race. The car will start eighth in the event.
UP NEXT: Practice 2 begins at 3:20 p.m. ET with a 15-minute session for Pro-Am competitors, joined by DPi and GTLM at 3:35 p.m. for one hour. Today’s activity concludes with night practice from 7:15-9 p.m.