Chip Ganassi Racing’s Renger van der Zande turned in the fastest lap of the year during Thursday’s night session to lead the opening day of practice for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Scott Dixon had led the session with a lap of 1m34.442s in the No. 01 Cadillac DPi-V.R., but Van der Zande took over and quickly posted a slightly faster lap, and then ran 1m34.146s with 35 minutes remaining.
Ricky Taylor took second in the closing minutes, running 1m34.459s in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05. Cadillacs took the next three positions. Felipe Nasr was third in the pole-winning No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac (-0.507s), followed by a dead heat for fourth shared by Loic Duval in the No. 5 JDC-Miller Motorsports entry and Simon Pagenaud in the No. 488 Ally Cadillac (0.580s). Sixth was Olivier Pla in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-05 (-0.818s).
All 49 competitors participated in the one-hour, 45-minute session. The No. 55 Mazda Motorsports RT24-P electing to change the engine and gearbox in preparation for the race, with Oliver Jarvis taking the car out in the closing seconds for a non-timed installation lap.
Corvette Racing went 1-2 in GT Le Mans, with Nick Tandy in the No. 4 C8.R running 1m42.586s, followed by Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 (-0.083s). Third was Davide Rigon in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE (-0.125s).
GT Daytona saw 17 of the 19 competitors separated by a mere 0.883s. Marco Mapelli was fastest on his final lap of 1m45.593s in the No. 111 GRT Grasser Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (-0.057s). He was followed by Aaron Telitz in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 (-0.003s), followed by Earl Bamber in the No. 88 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3R (-0.065s), and Frankie Montecalvo in the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus (-0.159s).
LMP2 saw the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07-Gibson up front for the third straight session. Mikkel Jensen led with a lap of 1m36.033s, followed by Matthieu Vaxiviere in the No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA (-0.257s) and Robert Kubica in the No. 20 High Class Racing ORECA (-0.663s).
Jeroen Bleekemolen paced the LMP3 competitors, running 1m42.492s in the No. 91 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320. He was followed by Laurents Hoerr in the No. 65 Muehlner Motorsports America Duqueine M30-D08 (-0.171s) and Wayne Boyd in the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsports Ligier (-0.797s).
An on-track incident in Turn 6 with less than 25 minutes remaining resulted in bodywork damage to two contenders. Yann Clairey had damage to the left front of the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier, while Austin Dillon had right-rear damage to the No 51 Rick Ware Racing-Eurasia Ligier LMP2. Dillon went through the Turn 1 runoff to return to the track in Turn 1 of the superspeedway banking.
The session was briefly red-flagged at the 56-minute mark after the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 of Ed Jones came to a stop near the pit entrance.
UP NEXT: Final practice for the Rolex 24 takes place on Friday, a one-hour session beginning at 11:20 a.m. ET. That will be the lone on-track activity on Friday for the WeatherTech Championship competitors. The 59th Rolex 24 is set to start at 3:40 p.m. on Saturday.