DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — With two-time defending race winner Kamui Kobayashi behind the wheel, Action Express’ all-star car set the pace during the first practice of the Roar Before the Rolex test session for the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
Kobayashi was fastest (1 minute, 35.312 seconds) during his 14 laps on the Daytona International Speedway road course in the No. 48 Cadillac, which also was driven for 11 laps by Mike Rockenfeller.
Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, whose traditional NASCAR number and Ally sponsorship is on the car, didn’t make a lap in the one-hour practice, nor did Simon Pagenaud (though the 2019 Indy 500 winner originally was listed incorrectly on the official results as having the fastest lap).
The No. 10 of two-time defending Rolex 24 champion Wayne Taylor Racing was second on the speed chart with Ricky Taylor (1:35.697) in the team’s debut with the Acura in the DPi division. Felipe Nasr was third in Action Express’ other No. 31 Cadillac.
— #IMSA / #MotulPole (@IMSA) January 22, 2021
Renger van der Zande, another overall Rolex 24 winner the past two years with WTR, was fourth fastest in the Cadillac of Chip Ganassi Racing, which returns to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the DPi division. Jonathan Bomarito in the No. 55 Mazda rounded out the top five.
NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliot, who will be making his Rolex 24 debut next weekend, led the session with 17 laps in the No. 31. His best time of 1:38.565 was last among the 13 DPi drivers.
— Simon Pagenaud (@simonpagenaud) January 22, 2021
In other divisions:
–Nicolas Lapierre led in LMP2 for PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports.
–Laurents Hoerr was fastest in the new LMP3 class with Muehlner Motorsports America.
–James Calado paced the GTLM division in the No. 62 Ferrari of Risi Competizione ahead of defending series champion No. 3 Corvette of Jordan Taylor.
–Christina Nielsen, who is teamed with Katherine Legge and former GTLM champion Earl Bamber, was fastest in the GTD division with the No. 88 Porsche 911 GT3R for Team Hardpoint EBM.
There will be another practice at 4:15 p.m. Friday.
Saturday’s schedule will feature another morning practice and then qualifying for Sunday’s Motul 100, the first time a qualifying race has been used to set the starting grid of the Rolex 24.
The IMSA season opener will be held Jan. 30-31 at Daytona with coverage on NBC and NBCSN.