The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship kicked off its 2018 season on Friday with Day 1 of the annual Roar Before the 24 test. With all 50 cars entered at the Rolex 24 present, there was no shortage of cars on track in either of the Friday sessions, and every car ventured out on track in at least one of the sessions.
Below is a roundup of highlights from Day 1
ACTION EXPRESS, CADILLAC TOP THE TIME SHEETS
Action Express Racing put their Cadillac DPi-V.R atop the timesheets for the day, with Filipe Albuquerque going fastest in both the morning and afternoon sessions.
In fact, the morning session saw Cadillacs take the top four spots, a continuation of what was a dominant 2017 season for the marque.
CORE Autosport broke up the Cadillac party in the afternoon, turning the second quickest lap of the day. Wayne Taylor Racing and Spirit of Daytona Racing ended up third and fourth in the combined results, with Jackie Chan DCR JOTA putting its No. 78 Oreca 07 Gibson fifth.
Of note: Fernando Alonso turned laps in his No. 23 United Autosports Ligier LMP2 Gibson, kicking off his first official foray into sports car racing.
Also of note in the Prototype class: the Acura Team Penske ARX-05s were 12th and 15th at the end of the day, and the revamped Mazda RT24-P entries from Mazda Team Joest both made it out on track, though the No. 70 entry only did two laps late in the evening session.
PORSCHE LEAD OPENING DAY FOR GTLM
Porsche GT Team put a 911 RSR at the head of the GTLM field on Friday, with Laurens Vanthoor going fastest in the No. 912 entry. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 67 machine was second, thought it did lead the morning session, while the No. 911 Porsche ended the day third, putting both Porsches in the top three at the end of the day.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 66 entry was fourth, with the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE fifth.
Both of the Corvette C7.Rs from Corvette Racing were outside of the top five at the end of the day, sixth and seventh respectively in the GTLM class, while the new BMW M8 GTLM entries from BMW Team RLL brought up the rear of the GTLM field.
LAMBORGHINI TOP GT DAYTONA
A Lamborghini Huracan GT3 topped a deep GT Daytona at the end of Friday, with GRT Grasser Racing Team’s Rolf Ineichen leading the way in the morning and co-driver Franck Perera doing the same in the afternoon in the No. 11 entry.
The Manthey-Racing No. 59 Porsche 911 GT3 R was second, followed by the sister GRT No. 19 entry. Montaplast by Land-Motorsport ended up the day fourth in their Audi R8 LMS GT3, with Magnus Racing rounding out the top five in their first official outing on their return to IMSA competition.
All three classes saw relatively clean running, with no contact during either session and only four brief stoppages, all resulting from minor issues.
SCOTT PRUETT ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
Maybe the biggest story to emerge on Friday was Scott Pruett revealing that the 2018 Rolex 24 will be the final race of his career, with the veteran of IMSA, INDYCAR, and NASCAR announcing he will retire following the 24-hour endurance race.
The 58-year old Pruett has been racing in some capacity for 50 years, and has amassed a total of 88 wins across a number of series.
But, Pruett will likely be most remembered for his sports car endeavors, as one of the most decorated American sports car racers who has ever lived. Pruett’s sports car resume includes a record 60 wins, five Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series titles, and a record-tying five overall victories at the Rolex 24. He also has a class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Daytona is a magical place for me and I love it,” Pruett said regarding the timing of his announcement. “I’ve always said the Rolex 24 at Daytona is like the Super Bowl of Motorsports because you’re bringing the best of the best from all over the world and the challenge of both man and machine is fierce. What better way to say goodbye to the sport I love than at this revered place, surrounded by my respected peers and die-hard fans.”
Pruett’s final race will be contested in a Lexus RCF GT3 with 3GT Racing.
The Roar Before the 24 continues on Saturday with three test sessions, the first beginning at 10:50 a.m. EST. Results from Friday’s sessions are below.