Ganassi paces final practice session for GTP teams
IMSA had a short, 20-minute practice Friday evening — for GTP teams only — to allow them to have one final shakedown before the start of the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Saturday. Six cars ventured out during the session, including both Chip Ganassi Racing-run Cadillacs, the two BMW M Team RLL cars and both Porsche Penske Motorsports 963s. Others, like the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac, found no issues in the midday session and chose to sit it out. Renger van der Zande posted the quick time of 1m36.742s in the No. 01 Cadillac.
Driver change in GTD No. 42 NTE/SSSR Lamborghini
IMSA issued waivers for several of the drivers who were required to get night practice before driving in the dark in the race, but missed the one night session due to crashed cars or other problems. Some drivers, however, did not receive waivers, including Kerong Li, driver of the No. 42 NTE/SSR Lamborghini Huracán. With Li not receiving a waiver, it would have meant that Don Yount, who did receive a waiver, would have to drive at night. Yount has stepped aside, and Robert Megennis, who has raced with the team before, will step into the car.
WeatherTech on Wall Street
WeatherTech took the unusual step of taking out a win ad…for a pole position. With a week between qualifying and race, there was plenty of time for WeatherTech Racing to take out an ad in the Wall Street Journal to celebrate the GTD PRO pole position for the No. 79 Mercedes AMG. No word on whether they will repeat the ad buy if the team wins the race.
Porsche’s Thomas Laudenbach: “I do not understand”
“The boundary conditions that we are given in GT3 for the 24 hour race so far, for me, it’s hard to understand, so I cannot explain something which I do not understand,” Laudenbach said. “I think it is obvious, just as a result, that we are two to three seconds off. This is far too much, and I do not exactly understand why we get got these boundary conditions. I spoke to our drivers — you know, we have Kevin Estre here, and I’m naming him because he’s really one of the top drivers in a GT car — and if he approached me and said, ‘Thomas that’s what I can do. I mean, I’m flat out.’ To me, this is a clear sign that that this is not the best position to start a 24 hour race.”
Hurley Haywood: Worthy successor to the 962
Porsche Daytona legend Hurley Haywood has been observing the rollout of the LMDh cars in the GTP class, and he is impressed by what he sees.
“I was part of the introduction of the 962 when it came to America for the first time, and that was really electric,” Haywood said. “That was like a driver’s dream come true, that car. Fast forward to today — the new technology in these race cars is really incredible and the guys that are driving it, not only do they have to be fantastic racing drivers, but they almost have to be like engineers, able to understand the commands that are coming in from the pits on what adjustments need to be made. It’s very difficult, in my opinion, for a driver to have the concentration that he needs, but also be that concentration gets interrupted by by commands that they must do. So it’s a huge load on their shoulders and they do everything correctly.”
Haywood added that he felt the 963, once again being a car that will be raced by Porsche customers, is a worthy successor to the 962.
Parker Thompson, Rolex rookie
Parker Thompson is not only a Rolex 24 at Daytona rookie, but he’s never raced at night and never done a driver change. The third driver of the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 with Aaron Telitz and Frankie Montecalvo, along with Daytona addition Kyle Kirkwood, knows his job is to support them.
“This is their championship and there are plenty of ways I can lose them this race and there’s not really many ways I can win them the race,” Thompson said. “So keep the car clean, make sure I get through my stints good, make sure I save fuel and brakes for them at the end of the race and then let them handle it.”
The 2022 Porsche Carrera Cup North America champion notes that he’s a bit nervous about the first driver change when he gets in the car, but he’s excited just the same to roll out of pit lane for the first time during the race.