Matt Campbell led the led the sole night practice of the Rolex 24 at Daytona for Porsche, a crucial session for many teams as they try to nail down their setups, scrub in tires and, for many, get their drivers the laps of night driving required for Bronze-rated drivers as well as Silver-rated Rolex 24 rookies.
That last check-off item will be trouble for several teams who had issues in the afternoon session, and six drivers who were required to take part in night practice did not do the necessary laps. Lance Willsey was one of those, as the LMP3 No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsports Ligier blew an engine, and despite the furious efforts of the crew, could not make it out for night practice.
Francesco Pizzi crashed the LMP2 No. 55 Proton Competition ORECA this afternoon, denying himself and Fred Poordad the night session. It’s potentially worse for the No. 42 NTE/SSR Lamborghini Huracan in GTD that had an off and contact this afternoon, as three drivers on that car needed night practice – Don Yount, Kerong Li and Alessio Deledda.
An answer from IMSA officials regarding a mechanism for those drivers to get a waiver for not completing the required night laps was not immediately available.
Campbell posted a 1m35.802s lap in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963 to lead Filipe Albuquerque in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-06 and Alex Lynn in the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-LMDh. Most cars throughout the field were turning laps half a second or more off their afternoon pace.
Matthieu Vaxiviere led LMP2 in the No. 88 AF Corse ORECA, while LMP3 was headed by Rasmus Lindh in the No. 36 Andretti Autosport Ligier. GTD PRO polesitter Maro Engel in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG was at the top of the time sheets in that class, the first time a PRO car has been in front of all the GTDs. Fellow Mercedes-AMG pilot Mikael Grenier led GTD for Team Korthoff Motorsports in the No. 32.
Aside from the cars previously mentioned, several others were absent from the session, including the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, which the team said was conserving resources for the race. The other was the GTD Winward Racing No. 57 Mercedes-AMG that Lucas Auer crashed during the first practice session this morning.
The only significant incident during the third practice was Alessandro Balzan going off course in the GTD No. 47 Ferrari 296 GT3 and hitting a tire barrier. That incident brought out a red flag, and the team missed the rest of the session.