Alex Palou scored the quickest lap in the No. 01 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R from Chip Ganassi Racing, keeping the team on top for consecutive sessions in practice for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Palou’s 1m35.589s was almost half a second quicker than Scott Dixon’s pace-setting time in the car this morning.
“It’s been a good day so far for us for the 01 car,” said Palou, who will be competing in his second Rolex 24. “I believe we were fastest this morning with Dixon in in the car and also with Seb , then this afternoon with Renger and I, so pretty cool. Lots of learnings. Every time you go out on track, it’s very different with conditions, traffic and so on. I’m just learning as much as possible from the traffic and also from the car trying to get the most we can for for the race.”
Felipe Nasr set the second-quickest time of 1m35.724s in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963, 0.03s ahead of the Proton Competition 963 in the hands of Gianmaria Bruni. Jack Aitken in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac Racing V-Series.R and Mathieu Jaminet in the No. 6 PPM 963 completed the top five, pushing BMW out of the top five for the first session of the Roar and Rolex weekends combined.
The two Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acuras continue to struggle, the No. 10 managing only an eight-quickest time, and the No. 40 once again more than a second off the GTP field’s best time.
Clement Novalak had the top time in LMP2 with the No. 52 Inter Europol by PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA at 1m39.416s, but No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR driver Toby Sowery’s time this morning was quicker to hold the fastest time of the day so far.
“Setting the fastest lap, it’s easy to get carried away and think that you’re the best out there, but there’s so much more to endurance racing,” said Sowery, who will run his first 24-hour race. “The expectation from APR and CrowdStrike is to win this event. Every event that we attend we come to win so setting that is is always a milestone. But come Saturday a lot of things can go wrong, so it’s about putting a lot of those laps in and keeping the car in one piece.”
Klaus Bachler set the fastest time of the GT cars in the GTD-class No. 86 MDK Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R at 1m47.045s, followed by Dennis Olsen (GTD No. 55 Proton Competition Ford Mustang GT3), Alberto Costa Balboa (GTD No. 34 Conquest Racing Ferrari 296 GT3) and GTD PRO leader Alexander Rossi in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports McLaren 720S GT3 Evo at 1m47.144s.
In the morning session, Katherine Legge set the fast GTD time in the No. 66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX Evo22, which held up for fast time of the day so far. But the car was only 21st in the afternoon, likely in part due to it being the warmest part of the day. Temperatures today are more than 20º F warmer than they were last Saturday during the Roar Before the 24.
“For us being twin turbo, significantly impacts our straight-line speed,” Legge explained. “Normally aspirated cars aren’t affected as much as we are. And we’ve seen it in the data. It’s been big. The car, also, handling-wise, always feels more sloppy when it’s warmer, although Michelin have done a really good job with the tires. And this new tire seems to manage that significantly better. So while we’ve seen a big drop in lap time and straight-line speed, I think I think in the race it’s going to be noticeably different from the heat of the day to the chill of the night. And you have to obviously just survive the night and set the car up for the day because that’s what we’re going to finish in.”
UP NEXT: The only night session before the race, critical to drivers who are required to complete some night running in order to drive in the dark during the race. The 90-minute session begins at 6:35pm.