IMSA,

  • Acura Team Penske dominate at Mid Ohio

    Acura Team Penske dominated the weekend at Mid Ohio, Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor taking the first win for the ARX-05 DPI, eight seconds up the road of the #6 car piloted by Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron.

    Short Image Description

    The two cars started the race on the front row and between them, led every lap of the race. It was Team Penske’s first win in the series in 10 years. Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas took the teams last win at Utah Motorsports Campus in the Porsche RS Spyder way back in 2009. The Team Joest Mazda DPI squad put up a fight throughout the first half of the race but fell back towards the end. The #55 tangled with a GT car at the half way mark, damaging the suspension. The #77 came home third with the #5 Action Express Cadillac taking fourth and the #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac finishing fifth.

    In GTLM, Nick Tandy took the lead on the opening lap, leading for the first hour or so before Earl Bamber took the lead in the #912. Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor took the win by 1.673 seconds. BMW Team RLL kept the pressure on, De Phillippi momentarily taking the lead in an out of sequence pit stop towards the end of the race before dropping back to second in the final pit window. All eight entries finished on the lead lap at the end of the 2 hour 40 minute race with the #3 Corvette taking third ahead of the #66 and #67 Fords which rounded out the top 5.

    3GT took the win in GTD to give the Lexus GT3 its first win in the series. Jack Hawksworth put the #15 3GT Lexus RC F on pole on Saturday with the #14 Lexus qualifying second. The #14 car dominated the second half of the race giving Lexus their first win in North America. Alvaro Parente put up a fight in the #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX, closing the gap to a couple of tenths towards the end of the race. Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow took third in the #48 Paul Miller Lamborghini Huracan GT3, their third consecutive podium.

  • An introduction to VISIT FLORIDA Racing

    With the Rolex 24 At Daytona just around the corner, the excitement is starting to build. Our partners in the 55th Rolex 24 At Daytona, VISIT FLORIDA, are getting ready for their biggest race of the year. But who exactly are VISIT FLORIDA Racing?

    Here we give you an insightful look at the team pushing for their first Rolex 24 At Daytona victory.


    From Left to Right:  Marc Goossens, Rene Rast and Renger Van Der Zande.

    Team owner Troy Flis established VISIT FLORIDA Racing in 1987 and has been with the team ever since, helping to evolve the club-racing team into one of the fiercest competitors in endurance racing. The team’s home is just down the road from the World Centre of Racing in Daytona Beach, basing them right at the heart of American motorsport. VISIT FLORIDA is a familiar face in the IMSA paddock, with the team having competed in every season of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship beginning with the former GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series in 2000.

    The team runs in the highly competitive and highest class of endurance racing available in IMSA: the Prototype class, as of 2017 split between the Daytona Prototype International cars and the WEC spec LMP2 cars. Under the new format, VISIT FLORIDA made the switch from running a Corvette based Daytona Prototype to the new Gibson-Riley LMP2 car which they will run for the course of the 2017 season.

    The team has had a successful history, with six victories and 18 podiums to date since 2004. Notable performances include 3rd place finishes overall in the Rolex 24 At Daytona for the past two years, 2015 and 2016. Even though the rules and regulations for the Prototype class have been heavily altered this year, VISIT FLORIDA still expect to be achieving overall race wins and will be hoping to start the year strongly with the Rolex 24 At Daytona. With VISIT FLORIDA Racing now running the internationally eligible LMP2 car, the team are also hoping to compete at the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans.

    Racing History

    2012 marked the year of change for VISIT FLORIDA and started them on their path to the great successes they have achieved since. Chevrolet, VISIT FLORIDA’s then car provider, introduced its new Corvette Daytona Prototype bodywork that VISIT FLORIDA took in their stride. The car was fast, competitive, and reliable. It took the team to three pole positions, three race victories, four podiums, and seven top-five finishes to claim third in the Rolex Series Championship. VISIT FLORIDA knew this car was impressive and exactly what they had been searching for to make their mark on the endurance scene.

    They stuck with the Corvette Daytona Prototype in 2013, putting Ricky Taylor and Richard Westbrook in the cockpit for the full season. The team could not repeat the success of the previous year, but they did demonstrate a consistent and reliable car, completing 97% of all the laps raced during 2013. Their best performance of that year was a 3rd place finish at Barber Motorsport Park, whilst their Rolex 24 At Daytona campaign saw them finishing 5th overall.

    In 2014, GRAND-AM and ALMS combined to create a new IMSA series: the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. It was another successful year for the team, with Westbrook staying on in the team to partner Michael Valiante. Coming third in the championship, the year saw VISIT FLORIDA add another race victory to their name – victory at the 6 Hours of the Glen – and three more podiums: 2nd place at Chevrolet’s home base in Detroit and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and 3rd place and the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    As successful as those years were, 2015 has been VISIT FLORIDA’s most successful year to date. The pairing of Valiante and Westbrook stayed together and proved to be an extremely strong pairing. Throughout the full season, the team was never placed outside of the top five. 2015 saw VISIT FLORIDA add two more race victories, claim, six podiums and achieve their best ever result at Rolex 24 At Daytona (3rd place overall), and finished second in the championship. Their victories came at Mazda Raceway, Laguna Seca and 6 Hours of the Glen. All the years racing with Chevrolet were paying off, as the team got ever closer to achieving the elusive championship title.

    The love story with Chevrolet was due to end, however, as 2016 marked the final year of Daytona Prototypes. The Daytona Prototypes had been around for 13 years and it was due to the desire to make the Daytona Prototypes available to race on an international scale that saw the rules and regulations for the class change for 2017. Two new drivers came into the team for 2016: Ryan Dalziel and Marc Goossens. They were joined by Ryan Hunter-Reay for the Rolex 24 At Daytona and repeated their best ever finish of third overall. VISIT FLORIDA had another winless season last year, but once again proved the consistency of the car and team by completing 95% of all laps raced. Their best finish was second place at Laguna Seca.

    Drivers

    In the theme of international availability for the Daytona Prototype Internationals, VISIT FLORIDA have an international driver line-up for the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Marc Goossens (Belgium) stays on with the team for this year and is partnered by Renger van der Zande (Holland) for the full season. Rene Rast (Germany) completes the Rolex 24 At Daytona line-up making it a fully European affair.

    Marc Goossens was born in 1969 in Geel, Belgium. He started his race career when he was three years old, taking up karting. He won three Belgium Kart Championship and the European Title before he switched to cars in 1990. He raced in several open-cockpit single-seater series for a few years, eventually making the move over to sports car racing in 1996. In this same year, Goossens made his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut. Goossens has 12 24 Hours of Le Mans starts to his name, with his best finish being 2nd in 1997. He has also competed in NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity events since making the move to sports cars. He, like VISIT FLORIDA, started out in IMSA racing series in 2000. Before joining VISIT FLORIDA in 2016 he had mainly raced in the GT class for Riley Motorsport.

    Ahead of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Goossens said: "We’ve had several good tests and I think that the things we tried showed us where we need to be setup wise. Now it is just about making the car more reliable. I think that the key to doing well in this race is being the team that spends the least amount of time in the pits. Whoever does that, is going to be the one challenging for the win in the end. It was great to be on the podium in this race last year and hopefully, we can be there at the end to fight for a big result again this year."

    Partnering Goossens for the full season is Renger van der Zande, a dutch driver with a wealth of experience behind him in both single seaters and sports cars, this will be his first time out in the Prototype class and his first time in an LMP2. Along with his racing commitments, Zande is also a driver coach for upcoming kart drivers. He also works at Nijmegan Radbound University as a coach for the sports physics department. Working closely with Mercedes SportMedizin program, he additionally spends time as a fitness professional.

    Ahead of his Prototype class debut, Zande said: "I am very happy with my new teammates this year and the team environment at VISIT FLORIDA Racing. The Rolex 24 is one of the biggest racing events in the world. You see all of the hot shot drivers in Prototype racing are here. Several competitors are ex-Formula 1 drivers and are World Champions, so we’re competing among the best of the best. One of VISIT FLORIDA’s strengths is the team's experience and calling the right strategy when the race changes with caution periods or with the weather here in their home race. I think there are a lot of cars that have a lot of reliability question marks, so we will try to minimize that and try to win."

    Rene Rast joins the team just for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The Minden-born German driver has had a lot of experience in prototypes having recently finished a successful season in the FIA WEC with G-Drive racing. He has three Le Mans appearances to his name, racing for G-Drive in 2014 and 2016 and one appearance for Audi Sport Team Joest in 2015. He already has several 24 hour race wins to his name, the 24 Hours of Nuburgring, raced around the infamous Nordschleife circuit. Rast has competed in the Rolex 24 At Daytona for the past five years, but only in the GT Class. He took the class win in 2012 and 2016 with Magus Racing.

    Rene said: "I think that we can fight for victory. Where all the teams are right now (in outright pace) is up in the air because we do not know much about the other competitors and their new equipment. Obviously, it would mean a lot to me to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona. This is one of the few prestigious races that I haven't won overall yet. I have a lot of faith in the VISIT FLORIDA Racing guys that they can prepare the car to be a contender in the final stages of the race"

    Images Brian Cleary/VISIT FLORIDA Racing

  • Daytona lap record looks set to fall.

    Lap times fell on the second day of running at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona with Mazda leading the way throughout, Jonathan Bomarito setting the fastest time of the day in the night session with a 1:34.533 in the #55 Mazda Team Joest DPi. Times weren't just falling in the DPi class however, most of the field were lapping faster than the best race times from 2018.

    Harry Tincknell was the first to break the 1:35 mark in the first session of the day, the Mazda running fastest and closing in on the 1993 lap record, a 1:33.875 set in a Toyota Eagle MK III. Tincknell set a time of 1:34.925, Fernando Alonso just behind with a time of 1:35.052 before the session closed. Renger Van Der Zande fought back in the fourth session though, the times dropping again to 1:34.534 in the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac. Ricky Taylor put the #7 Acura ARX-05 second in the fourth session with a time of 1:35.017 with the top three rounded out by Mike Conway in the Action Express Cadillac.

    Jonathan Bomarito fought back in the final session of the day, and the first night practice session for the class of 2019. It was a close fought session though, Bomarito going just 0.444 faster than Van Der Zande by the end of the session. Initially Bomarito was just 0.001 seconds faster than Renger Van Der Zande but as the session wore on, the Mazda crew pulled further ahead. The #55 Mazda went six tenths up in the final stages of the session before the #31 Action Express Cadillac of Pipo Derrani fought back to split the two Mazda's with a time of 1:35.179.

    The #52 PR1 Oreca finished the second day at the top of the time sheets, Gabriel Aubry once again at the front and over a half a second up on Ben Hanley in the DragonSpeed Oreca. Aubry set a time of 1:36.99, 2.457 seconds off the pace of the front running DPi cars.

    Porsche finished 1-2 in GTLM in the final session of the day, the #911 ahead of the #912, former Porsche LMP1 driver Nick Tandy posting a time of 1:43.402 to close of the days action. Porsche lead the way in the first session of the morning, Mathieu Jaminet topping the times with a 1:43.862 in the #912 just 0.007 seconds up on Antonio Garcia in the #3 Corvette. Ford fought back in the second session of the day, Scott Dixon taking the fastest time of the GTLM class at the Roar so far with a time of 1:43.148, 0.075 up on Patrick Pilet in the #911. Scott Dixon couldn't quite beat the Porsche's at night, coming within four tenths of Tandy in the night session.

    Porsche also lead the way in the first session of GTD, the #540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 RSR of Matteo Cairoli setting a time of 1:45.919, 0.026 quicker than the #96 Acura NSX of Trent Hindman and Meyer Shank Racing w/Curb-Agajanian. Hindman took the top spot in session two of the day though, going quicker again with a time of 1:45.533, eight tenths up on the #57 sister car. Paul Dalla Lana caused the only red flag of the session, the Canadian this time at the wheel of a Ferrari 488 GT3 rather than the Aston Martin Vantage GTE car he runs in the WEC, hit the barrier head on at the second horseshoe in the final moments of the session. The #13 Via Italia 488 GT3 Ferrari finished the day at the top of the time sheets, Victor Franzoni setting a time of 1:45.842, two tenths faster than the #71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3 which took second.

    All images courtesy of IMSA

  • Disappointment at 12 hours of Sebring

    It was a race of disappointment for the VISIT FLORIDA Racing team for the second race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. After finishing so strongly at Daytona, taking a podium by scoring third place and being ‘best-of-the-rest’ over the 24 hour endurance race, an electrical issue forced the team to bring the car behind the wall during the 12-hour marathon. Perseverance and impressive driving saw Marc Goossens, Renger van der Zande and Rene Rast pulled the VISIT FLODIRA Racing challenger to sixth for the chequered flag.

    At the start of the Mobil1 Sebring 12 Hours, the VISIT FLORIDA Racing trio put the car fifth, looking strong to repeat their performance at Daytona and get the car onto the podium. Van der Zande started the race off, taking the green flag to get into the rhythm of the race instantly and began firing off competitive lap times.

    A two-hour stint saw van der Zande bring the car it for its first pit stop. The Netherlands native managed to get up to third place before handing over to Goossens for the second stint.

    It was just half an hour into his stint that Goossens discovered an issue with the Gibson Riley. He was stuck with an ailing throttle and forced to bring the car back in to go behind the wall for repairs. The team lost around an hour and a half in the garage, giving Goossens just over eight hours of the race left when he finally returned to the track.

    Goossens left nothing out on track as he pushed the VISIT FLORIDA Racing Gibson Riley through its paces. It didn’t take long for him to get back up to pace with the focus now on damage limitation. He made up a few positions before handing the car over to third driver Rast.

    Rast’s pace matched the example set by Goossens before him and the car was looking strong. Sadly the 90 minute delay behind the wall had dropped the VISIT FLORIDA Racing team down to seventh in class. However strong the pace was there was no way the team would be able to close the ground to get a second consecutive podium at this event.

    The pure perseverance of the team brought the Gibson Riley up to take sixth as the chequered flag fell, showing a display of incredible team spirit. It was a disappointing end to what could have been a brilliant race, but reliability had thrown its hand in the mix and prevented VISIT FLORIDA Racing from getting anything more out of the weekend.

    The team now looks forward to heading to the West Coast to take part in the third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Island will take place over the 7th and 8th of April. Hopefully VISIT FLORIDA Racing’s luck will be back and they can remind the IMSA grid exactly what they are capable of.

  • Early end to Long Beach Grand Prix

    Marc Goossens and Renger van der Zande took to Long Island with just the two of them for the third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The VISIT FLORIDA Racing team were in search of their second podium this season with the Gibson Riley challenger and after the disappointment of the 12 Hours of Sebring there was little else on their mind. However, the bad luck had not finished from Sebring as the team were forced to abandon the race after only the first practice session, not even participating in qualifying or race day.

    There was a lot of potential pace in the VISIT FLORIDA Racing challenger and Goossens and van der Zande were showing excellent pace during the first practice session. They had been taking it in turns to set laps around the legendary street cuircuit. It was van der Zande who was on board the #90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Gibson Riley when disaster struck.

    A brake failure saw the Dutchman unable to stop at the braking zone for Turn 1. He was able to slow the car down but not significantly enough, leading to a high speed crash into the tyre barriers.

    Luckily the machine absorbed most of the energy, seeing van der Zande able to get out of the car quickly and receive an all clear from the IMSA medical staff. But this saw the end of the #90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing’s weekend as the damage it suffered was too much for the team to be able to repair in time for the race.

    With what is hopefully their last bad weekend behind them, VISIT FLORIDA Racing now look ahead towards the fourth round of the season at the Circuit of the Americas taking place on the 4th-6th of May.
  • Goodbye Daytona Prototype, Hello Daytona Prototype International

    The Daytona Prototype cars have participated in 171 races over the 14 years in which they competed. A record of winning 163 of those races showed the Daytona Prototypes were cars to be taken seriously on the racing scene. But after 14 years of spectacular racing, the Daytona Prototypes as they were known have hung up their helmets for the last time. 2017 will no longer see the fleet that originally competed in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, as the new Daytona Prototype Internationals (DPi) take their place in todays IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship.


    Image: www.imsa.com

    The Daytona Prototypes have had a long and successful life of racing. The class was initially started in a hope to reduce costs of running cars and teams. The number of participants for the Rolex 24 At Daytona was high but it was the expensive cost that saw teams put off of entering the series for a full season. The Grand American Road Racing Association (GARRA) saw, in 2002, that something needed to be done to increase the full-season entrant numbers. A new class of cars was introduced that would be a lot cheaper to run for a full season and also addressed the issue of the top speeds being too great around concrete-walled Rovel Speedways: the Daytona Prototypes.

    Their introduction in 2002 was not easy; a lot of speculation surrounded the new Daytona Prototypes, especially with the reduced top speeds to make them safer. Grand-Am took the Daytona Prototypes and started a new, stand-alone North American racing series to introduce them to the Motorsport World. They kept the costs highly capped, meaning that manufacturer-owned teams were not allowed to compete in this series. Alike the FIA LMP2 class, there was a set car that teams purchased so they could race in the series with restricted development and modifications. Every Daytona Prototype ran a turboframe chassis from a series chosen chassis supplier and relatively high-powered engines that were derived from production engines from major production manufacturers.

    Three generations of Daytona Prototypes were created before the introduction of the United SportsCar Championship in 2014. The popularity of the series grew as it started to gift some of the closest and most exciting wheel-to-wheel racing in any motorsport series.

    The Daytona Prototype cars took part in 141 Rolex Sports Car Series races and 30 IMSA races (since 2014). Only having lost eight of the races that they took part in, the Daytona Prototypes could be one of the most successful sports car series of all time. Chip Garassi Racing is the team with the most Daytona Prototype wins. Felix Sabates helped take them to their 46 series wins. Scott Pruett, however, holds the record for the most wins by one driver, with 44 wins to his name. It was in 2006 that the Rolex 24 At Daytona 24 saw the most Daytona Prototypes on the track, with 30 competing in the series blue-ribbon event. In the 14 years of racing, 103 Daytona Prototypes were manufactured, with team Riley having produced the most with 47 cars to their team’s name.


    Image: Mazda Racing

    The Daytona Prototypes have raced alongside the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) series of cars since the birth of the IMSA Sportscar Championship in 2014. The main reason for the change from the Daytona Prototypes to the DPis was to try and allow the DPis to be eligible to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. IMSA worked with the ACO and FIA to try and make the regulations for the DPis class the same as those for the LMP2 entrants of Le Mans. Different business goals for IMSA and ACO/FIA did not ultimately make this achievable.

    Whereas the Daytona Prototypes only shared similar regulations to the LMP2 series, the new DPis share the exact same regulations. All participating DPis must run one of the four selected manufacturer chassis and use the same standard specification of Cosworth electronic package. Engines, like they always have, will be selected from major road car production manufacturers and must be homologated by IMSA. The four chassis providers for the DPis differs from the LMP2 list, with Dallara, Onroak Automotive, ORECA, and Riley/Multimatic being the four chassis providers for the DPis.


    Image: Ligier Racing

    With the DPis being the top class of cars in IMSA, in comparison to LMP2s not being the top class of the FIA’s World Endurance Championship, the aims of the two classes in their respective series differs. Because of this, the DPi teams have a little more freedom in the modifications they can make to their bodywork. The bodywork used has to be an IMSA homologated manufacturer-designed and branded bodywork but the teams can make modifications to their nose, sidepods, rear-wheel arch, and rear valance to allow for variation through the field. If the DPis wish to enter into the Le Mans 24 Hours they must run a low downforce bodywork package for that event.

    The same chassis of the LMP2s and the DPis will allow and encourage closer and fairer competition between the two car classes. The severe alterations to the Daytona Prototypes to make them Daytona Prototype International is to help integrate the DPis into more racing series so the opportunity to go racing is higher. The same ‘core car’ in both series will allow the two series to compete against each other in more IMSA and ACO competitions. What originally started out as a cost-efficient sports car racing class in America has now stepped up onto the international field, with more exciting competitions now within its reach.

  • How To Watch IMSA

    The International Motor Sports Association came about in 2014 as a merge of the GRAND-AM series and the ALMS series. Originally, the series was started by the executive director of the Sports Car Club of America, John Bishop, his wife Peggy, and with help from Sr. of NASCAR Bill France in 1969. IMSA is the governing body of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as well as other smaller Championships. One of the biggest IMSA events is the Rolex 24 at Daytona, which kick-starts the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship every year.

    image: imsa.com

    With the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona under a week away, here is everything you need to know about IMSA and the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship to get you ready to enjoy one of the most anticipated 24-hour races of the year.

    IMSA Series

    IMSA is the governing body for a few American-based sports car series, the pinnacle of which is the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship consists of racing at 12 of North America’s leading sports car venues, including Daytona International Speedway – the World Centre of Racing – Sebring, Watkins Glen, Road Atlanta, Long Beach, and Road America. The Championship holds four classes of cars: Prototype, Prototype Challenge, GT Le Mans, and GT Daytona.

    Alongside the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, smaller series run inside the governing body of IMSA as support series to the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge is one that runs in tandem with the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship; they share ten rounds. The cars that race in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge are “showroom to speedway” cars, meaning that modifications are limited to the areas of safety and competition. The series showcases the latest in American-made and imported high-performance sports cars, coupes, and sedans. Two classes of cars participate in this series: Grand Sport and Street Tuner.

    The IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazdasees open cockpit ELAN prototypes with Mazda power go head to head on the racetrack. The series allows for semi-professional drivers to compete in a world-class environment, giving them an experience of the pressure racing on a world stage with Lites 1 and Lites 2 classes. Some of the rounds of the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda are raced with the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

    The rest of the series within IMSA are ran by manufacturers in an attempt to give up and coming drivers some experience in their sports cars and sports car racing before they progress into the higher series like WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohamawas put together so young and upcoming drivers and veteran semi-professionals could race together. This allows the younger drivers to take on the experience and knowledge of their older competitors. They race iconic Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car for the entire series, competing in the Platinum or Gold Cup. A Master Championship is also raced for those drivers who are over the age of 45, but they may also compete in the Platinum Cup. Each of the eight weekends in the series contains two 45-minute races on North American circuits.

    The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canadaruns by the exact same rules as it’s American counterpart (above). Instead of being hosted on North American race circuits it allows those drivers based in Canada the chance to compete on some of the best Canadian sports car racetracks. This too consists of eight race weekends of two 45-minute races.

    One of the three Super Trofeo North American series, Lamborghini Super Turbo, is also governed by IMSA. It gives race experience to rookie professional and amateur drivers in 620-HP Huracan Super Trofeo LP 620-2, the first purpose-built racing Lamborghini. There is six race meets in a season of Lamborghini Super Turbo, with each meet consisting of two 50-minute races.

    Finally, IMSA has the Ferrari Challenge. This is a single model championship for Ferrari clients with a passion for racing. The series started in 1993 in a way to allow those customers of Ferrari to race against each other. The series has Gentlemen drivers rather than professional race drivers and is not usually a feeder series into higher IMSA series.

    For 2017, the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has 12 rounds, starting at the end of January and ending at the beginning of October. Half of the rounds have a duration of 2h40m, making this the standard race duration in the series. Two events have a shorter time of 1h40m, whilst the other four rounds stand out as special events with much longer race durations. The longest race is the Rolex 24 at Daytona, which is also the opening race of the series.

    There are four test sessions in the season, with three of those focusing on the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Every class of car participates in each of the tests, apart from the Prototype Challenge, which does not appear in the second test at Daytona International Speedway. Below is the full season calendar for the 2017 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, including the four test sessions.

    DATE

    EVENT

    LOCATION

    DURATION

    November 15/16 2016

    TEST

    Daytona International Speedway

    Test

    December 13/14 2016

    TEST

    Daytona International Speedway

    Test

    January 6-8 2017

    Roar Before Rolex 24

    Daytona International Speedway

    Test

    January 26-29 2017

    Rolex 24 at Daytona

    Daytona International Speedway

    24 Hours

    February 23/24 2017

    TEST

    Sebring International Raceway

    Test

    March 15-18 2017

    Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring

    Sebring International Raceway

    12 Hours

    April 7-8 2017

    BUBBA Burger SportsCar Grand Prix

    Long Beach Street Circuit

    1h40m

    May 5-7 2017

    Circuit of the Americas

    Circuit of the Americas

    2h40m

    June 2-3 2017

    Chevrolet Belle Isle Detroit Grand Prix

    Raceway at Belle Isle Park

    1h40m

    June 30 – July 2 2017

    Sahlen’s 6 Hours of The Glen

    Watkins Glen International

    6 Hours

    July 7-9 2017

    Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix

    Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

    2h40m

    July 21/21 2017

    IMSA WeatherTech Northeast Grand Prix

    Lime Rock Park

    2h40m

    August 4-6 2017

    Continental Tire Road Race Showcase

    Road America

    2h40m

    August 25-27 2017

    Michelin GT Challenge

    Virginia International Raceway

    2h40m

    September 22-24 2017

    Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix

    Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

    2h40m

    October 5-7 2017

    Petit Le Mans

    Road Atlanta

    10 Hours

     

    Race Format

    The races see the grid complete formation laps before a rolling start. All four classes race on the track together but for some of the rounds, only a selection of the classes participates. Only the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes race IMSA WeatherTech Northeast Grand Prix and the Michelin GT Challenge. The Prototype Challenge class does not take part in the BUBBA Burger SportsCar Grand Prix or the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, meaning this class’s season is only eight races long. Only the GT Daytona class completes a full 12-race season as the GT Le Mans cars do not take part in the Chevrolet Belle Isle Detroit Grand Prix.

    Qualifying takes place in four 15-minute blocks, with each class having the track to themselves during their qualifying session. Only one driver qualifies for the car, with the fastest in each class taking the class pole position. The grid is organised class by class; Prototypes lead the field as Prototype Challenge, GT Le Mans, and GT Daytona line up behind them.

    The Championship

    In the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, there are three titles for each team to fight for. Both a Driver’s title and a Team title is available in every class, with a manufacturers title also available for the Prototype, GT Le Mans, and GT Daytona classes. Last year, the Prototype Driver Championship was taken by Dane Cameron and Eric Curran; an all-American line-up for Action Express Racing in a Coyote Corvette DP Chevrolet 5.5l V8. They did the double by also taking the Team Championship for Action Express Racing. The pair return again to try and retain their title, but with the Daytona Prototype regulations changes, this year they will be fielding a Dallara-based Cadillac Dpi-VR 6.2L V8. Chevrolet took the Manufacturers Championship for the Prototype Class, beating Honda by 14 points.

    In the Prototype Challenge, it was Alex Popow and Renger van de Zande who took the 2016 Drivers Championship. They fielded a Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM 09 powered by a Chevrolet SL3 6.2L V8 that also took the Team Championship. This year, Zande progresses up to the Prototype class and will race a full season for VISIT FLORIDA alongside Marc Goossens whilst Popow stays another season with Starworks Motorsport.

    GT Le Mans saw Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner take the Driver Championship, driving in a Chevrolet Corvette C7.R 5.5L V8 whilst also taking the Team Championship for the #4 Corvette Racing. Chevrolet claimed two of the three Manufacturer’s Titles by also taking the GT Le Mans Manufacturer’s Championship. Gavin and Milner continue on as a winning pairing for Corvette Racing in GT Le Mans this year and hope to retain their 2016 Titles.

    It was Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen who took the Drivers Championship for GT Daytona. They raced the Scuderia Corsa #63 Ferrari 458 GT3 and also won the Team Championship for them. Both drivers stay on for Scuderia Corsa in 2017 and are joined by Sam Bird and Matteo Cressoni for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. However, it was Audi who took the Manufacturer’s title in the GT Daytona Class. Chevrolet, who won the other two Manufacturer’s Title, were not competing in this class.

    Points

    Points are scored at the finish of each race for all cars that classify. The points system can be seen below; with all cars up to position 30 receiving points for finish the race. On top of this, ‘starting points’ are awarded to drivers and teams that start the race.

    image: wikipedia.com

    For drivers, points are only awarded if they complete the minimum required drive time that is assigned at the beginning of each race. All drivers to successfully complete their minimum driver time receive full points depending on where they finish, as well as a ‘starting point’.

    For the Teams Championship, the points are handed out in the same way as they are for the Drivers Championship. The top 30 in each class gets points assigned as above and every car gets a ‘starting point’. The Team Championships sees each car as a separate competitor even if there are two cars racing for the same team.

    Manufacturer’s points are assigned differently. There are no ‘starting points’ assigned for the Manufacturer’s Championships, only the point scoring system indicated above. For the Manufacturers Championship, the manufacturer only scores points from their highest finishing car. For example, if an Audi finishes first, third, and fifth, Audi will only take points for their first-place car. This means that potentially, a manufacturer can have their highest car finish fourth but still get second-place points in the Manufacturer’s Championship because the top three are all from the same manufacturer.

    Pit Stops

    The rules of a pit stop in IMSA and WeatherTech SportsCar events are consistent irrelevant to where the race is taking place. No mechanics or crew are allowed over the wall until the car comes to a complete stop. Once the pit stop begins, four mechanics are allowed to the car to work on refueling the cars and changing the tyres. Damage repair, changing brake pads and rotors, and wing adjustments are also done inside pit stops for the longer endurance races. The 60kph speed limit down the pit lane is enforced strictly and any drivers caught speeding down the pit lane will be handed a drive-through penalty.

    Car Classes

    Four classes of cars race in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship: Prototype, Prototype Challenge, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona. For full season entry, most teams run a two driver line-up, with additional drivers joining the teams for the longer endurance races like the Rolex 24 at Daytona. At least two drivers must be in every car for every event to be allowed to compete.

    Prototype

    image: imsa.com

    The Prototype class has taken on a big regulations change for this year, with the 14-year running Daytona Prototypes being replaced with the Daytona Prototype Internationals (DPi). Along with the DPis, LMP2 cars from the World Endurance Championship can take part in this class. This class features the most technologically advanced and fastest cars in North America. These cars are designed for track racing and look a lot different to road cars.

    Cars in this class have a top speed of 200mph with 600 brake horsepower. Racing in this class will be Mazda DPi, Cadillac DPi, Nissan DPi, Ligier LMP2, Multimatic-Riley LMP2, Oreca LMP2, and Dallara LMP2, powered by either a Gibson V8, Mazda 4-cylinder turbo, Cadillac 6.2L V8, or a Nissan V6 Turbo.

    Prototype Challenge

    image: imsa.com

    In the Prototype Challenge class, every entry races the same car. This year, the car will be an ORECA FLM09 chassis powered by a Chevrolet LS3. The cars are open cockpit with a top speed of 185mph and 485 brake horsepower. Five cars have confirmed to be racing in this category for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, with only two of those signing up, so far, to complete the full season.

    GT Le Mans

    image: imsa.com

    The cars in GT Le Mans are based on production models and modified to extract ultimate performance. Because of this, they are the fastest GTs available on the track. These are of the specification as the GTLM cars that race in the World Endurance Championship. Last year saw the #98 Aston Martin take part in the first two WeatherTech SportsCar Championship rounds as well as a full season of WEC. GT Le Mans is a good proving ground for manufacturers to trial their new GT cars directly competing against their sales rivals.

    With a top speed of 180mph and 500 brake horsepower, the GT Le Mans have the same speed as the GT Daytona cars (see below) so the two categories could be racing close together in race sessions. The cars available to teams in this category are: Aston Martin Vantage V8 with an Aston Martin V8, BMW M6 GTLM powered by a BMW V8 Turbo, Corvette C7.R GTE running a 5.5L Chevrolet Pushrod 2-Valve, Ferrari 488 GTE with a Ferrari V8 Turbo, Ford GT GTE powered by a Ford EcoBoost Turbo, or Porsche 911 RSR GTE running a Porsche Flat 6.

    GT Daytona

    image: imsa.com

    This class of cars has enhanced technology on board. Although very similar, the GTDs are not as powerful or aerodynamically advanced as the GTLM cars. These cars can have up to 500 brake horsepower but not exceeding but still run the same top speed as the GTLMs. In this class, the cars are all of an FIA-GT3 specifications regulation.

    The cars on this field will consist of: Acura NSX GT3s, Aston Martin Vantage GT3s, Audi R8 LMS GT3s, BMW M6 GT3s, Ferrari 488 GT3s, Lamborghini Huracan GT3s, Lexus RF GT3s, Mercedes AMG-GT3s, Nissan GT3-Rs, and Porsche 911 GT3-Rs. The corresponding engines will be used in each make of car: Acura V6 Turbo, Aston Martin V12, Audi 5.2L V10, BMW V8 Turbo, Ferrari V8 Turbo, Lamborghini 5.2L V10, Lexus 5.0L V8, Mercedes 6.2L V8, and Porsche 4.0L Flat 6.

    Number System

    The number system on the cars allows fans to easily determine whether the driver line-up is a Pro line up or a Pro-Am one. It also lets spectators see where the cars are in their respective classes. A Pro line up usually consists of only professional race drivers, whereas Pro-Am is a professional and an amateur combination.

    The position of a car in their respective class is indicated with a LED number at the rear of the car. This will change throughout the race so fans car see what the position of the car is within its class. The colour of the LED number on the cars corresponds with the type of driver line up racing. A red number indicates a Pro line up whilst green is for Pro-Am. These colours also appear on the wing mirrors, race number panel, windscreen banner, rear wing end plate, and the class decal.

  • Interview with a Champion - Neel Jani

    Neel Jani, Porsche factory driver and FIA World Endurance Champion doubles up with Rebellion in LMP2 to contest the North American Endurance Championship in 2017 alongside his regular duties at Porsche. Jani will be making his racing debut at Daytona and the Rolex 24 in the brand new Rebellion Oreca 07. Jani already has a Le Mans win to his name and has now set his sights on another 24 hour classic, the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

    In a Speed Chills Exclusive, we sat down with Neel and discussed his return to Rebellion Racing, the Roar Before the 24 and the upcoming Rolex 24 At Daytona.

    How did you get on at the Roar Before the 24?

    It is kind of hard to say, we obviously got on really well the first two days, we topped the time sheets but teams are holding back, not wanting to show their true performance just yet, but we were not playing games. We wanted to get out and see what the car could do. The Mazda is quick but Cadillac looked slow, but I’m not paying too much attention to lap times yet. We focused on our preparation, the new Oreca 07 is great, its clearly very different to the 919 so a lot to learn. It is a new car to everyone on a new circuit, and to me, I have never driven LMP2 so it was quite an experience doing my first LMP2 laps around Daytona. The team did a great job to build the car in such a short space of time after Stephane (Sarrazin) destroyed the first one at the December test at Sebring. The team had to completely rebuild the car from a new chassis and get everything set up in just a few weeks. It was important to us to get kilometres on the car to test the reliability and performance over long distance runs and the car performed perfectly all test.

    How is it being back at Rebellion after running with Porsche for 3 years?

    It is great to be back at Rebellion, there have been a number of changes to the team since I was first here but a lot of the top guys are still around (Team Manager Bart Hayden). We have a very strong line-up for the Rolex 24 and the North American Endurance Cup with Seb (Buemi) Steph (Sarrazin) and Nick (Heidfeld) in the car. It's nice to be partnered with Nick again after this time and although we have an on track rivalry, everyone gets on well and works together well, we have all come through the development together and so know each other well. It is our first time running an LMP2 car together so it is new to us all. But it is what I wanted to do. I didn't want to race in GT, I have never done it, it is very different to my background. I wanted to race in LMP2 and fight for overall victory and I believe with this team we have a very good chance, we have arguably the strongest line up. We work well with each other, we all have a lot of experience and we trust each other, that is important.

    This year, you will also be joining Rebellion for their North American Endurance Cup Races?

    We worked hard with Porsche to agree this deal with Rebellion and I am very happy it paid off. Porsche are usually very strict with other commitments so it is nice to do. It is great to get Rebellion Racing back in to North America and see what happens. (Rebellion have taken on the Robertson Racing facility in Georgia for their American campaign this season). Two of the four races will be done by the start of the WEC season so it is easier to manage than the guys doing Formula E. I am looking forward to it, we last raced here in 2013 along with Nick (Heidfeld) so it's good to be back. We are keeping one car in the US and hoping to use the same team on WEC and the North American Endurance Cup.

    This is your first time at Daytona, how did you find it and what were your impressions?

    Wow! Daytona is an incredible place and track. My first experience of Daytona was playing an old Nascar video game when I was a child so to be there racing now it was great. Doing the track walk before the test was amazing. The banking is so steep! you wonder.. how can you drive on that? It really is a special place. Driving the first few laps were very special with the car up on the banks at speed, thinking, how steep are these banks?! You get used to it quite quickly. The car took to the circuit well and I got used to it and start to push it. The infield is tight and bumpy but the outside oval is very quick. Traffic is very different to WEC, traffic is a bit easier because we don’t gain that much lap time through corners but we are much faster than the GT along the straights, better breaking and more grip. The new Daytona Prototypes, the Mazda in particular look amazing. Balance of Performance will come in to it, but IMSA have all the data and will decide accordingly so it is perhaps too early to gauge cars performance just yet. That said, it is going to be an impressive race. The grid is like a who’s who of racing with some very talented drivers from GT, Nascar, Indy Car and Prototypes. It is going to be a very hard fought race. We haven't really stopped yet. The off season was 3 weeks between end of season testing and Roar Before. It's great that the race falls when it does as it keeps me sharp and on form and helps me train and prepare for the upcoming season. I have a little bit of time off between Sebring and The Prologue at Monza but we have two big races and testing with Porsche before that time off so were always busy.

    What are your thoughts on Audi withdrawing from the WEC?

    It will be strange with only two manufacturers in LMP1, they will be missed. We had some great battles with Audi last year and in previous years. Nurburgring last year was great, going wheel to wheel with Andre (Lotterer) to finish fourth. It was a disappointing result for us but a great race. We fought hard, we fell down and got back up again and closed the gap. I think that Toyota will come back strong this year and be competitive. Toyota are racing a brand new car (as of the start of 2016) whereas the 919 is a three year old chassis. But I am confident and I am looking forward to it. We have a lot of testing before the start of the season and it is going to be a good fight.

    How did you feel winning Le Mans 2016?

    Winning Le Mans was great! We fought hard for the whole race and always felt like we could win. However, winning it with Toyota breaking down was a shock. You don't wish that on anyone and I feel for them. But equally, I think we deserved the win. We had a lot of bad luck in that race. We had two punctures in the last six hours but we kept fighting back. The car was quick and definitely capable of winning on it's own. In the end, it was a two car race. But I want to repeat my point, you don’t wish Toyotas luck on anyone. It was a shock result that is for sure and one that will go down in history and that is something I am proud to be part of. I know my friends and family will never forget it and neither will I. I hope we have many more wins to come.

    There have been some big changes at Porsche since Bahrain, how do you feel about going into the season as the only World Champion?

    Yes it is a big change for the whole team. I feel confident though, Nick (Tandy) and Earl (Bamber) have experience racing the 919 (Le Mans winners 2015 along with Nico Hulkenberg). We have done a lot of testing at Motorland Aragon and everyone is getting on well. Andre is obviously new to the car and has to adjust to it. We have a lot of testing coming up in the next few months and I feel confident that Porsche will do well this year, we have a good team and Toyota are going to be tough competition. Its going to be a great battle this season!

  • Neel Jani on top at the Roar Before the 24 

    Neel Jani topped the time sheets in the #13 Rebellion Racing Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 in both sessions. The Swiss driver, who has never driven at Daytona, or on a banked circuit, posted a time of 1:39.164 in the first session ahead of Ricky Taylor in the #10 Cadillac DPI (-0.332s) and Dane Cameron in the #31 Cadillac DPI (-1.976s).

    The second session saw Jani improve his time to 1:39.160 ahead of the #85 JDC Miller Oreca 07 (-0.274s). Jani’s team mates Sarrazin, Buemi and Heidfeld were all in Las Vegas on Formula E duty giving Jani the car to himself for the day, the trio are due to make an appearance on Sunday, the final day of the test.

    The #10 Wayne Taylor Cadillac took third (-0.875s) with the #52 PR1/Mathiasen car fourth (-0.973s) and the #81 Dragon Speed Oreca fifth (-1.166s). With very limited running, VISIT FLORIDA Racing took 12th (-2.427s). The #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsport Ligier JSP217 topped the speed trap at 194.3 mph with the #10 Wayne Taylor Cadillac clocking in at 191.5mph.

    The Mazda crew were busy assembling a brand new chassis for the #55 car for most of the first session but they managed to get it out on track for some installation laps. Mazda are experimenting with a new exhaust system and are using the Roar Before as a test bed before finalising the set up for the Rolex 24. Both cars had issues however, the #55 stopped on track during FP1 with electrical problems whilst the #70 car stopped in FP2 with suspension issues.

    Overall, it appears that the Gibson powered LMP2 cars hold an early advantage over the DPI cars, three of the French Oreca’s were in the top five overall. Early driver observations indicate that the P2 prototypes are better on the brakes whilst the DPI cars have a more torque and accelleration out of the corners. Lap times were nearly two seconds slower however than the December test, indicating that the cars have more to give and teams are unwilling to show their true potential just yet.

    2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice moves back to sports cars with BAR1 Motorsport running in the PC category, the four cars in class all running within 0.4 seconds of each other with Rice posting the fastest time of a 1:44.025. The Performance Tech Motorsport PC entry unfortunately became the first casualty of the 2017 season, IMSA Lites champion Clark Topped spun the #38 Oreca FLM09 in to the wall at the bus stop chicane, breaking the gear box and suspension system. The team are targeting a return to track in time for Saturday’s night practice session, providing they are able to replace the gearbox. In the second session, Johnny Mowlem topped the session in the #26 car by over a second posting a time of 1:42.701.

    The first GT Le Mans session was lead by Corvette Racing with Jan Magnussen posting the fastest time in the #3 Corvette C7.R (1:44.76). The Ford GT’s now in to their second season of racing looked strong with Ryan Briscoe putting the #67 Ford second just three tenths back (-0.287s) in the first session with Dirk Muller a further tenth back in third place (-0.399). In the second session of the day, Muller topped the time sheets in the #66 Ford GT with a time of 1:44.773. British driver Andy Priaulx took second place in the #69 (-0.071s) with Oliver Gavin taking third place in the #4 Corvette C7.R (-0.196s).

    Conor de Phillippi led the way in GT Daytona in the #29 Audi R8 LMS posting a 1:47.629 with the #75 Mercedes AMG GT3 just 0.078s back. The established European GT3 cars were on top again in FP2, this time with the Stevenson Motorsports #6 Audi R8 LMS posting a 1:47.553. Two Mercedes AMG GT3 cars were less than two tenths behind. The brand new Acura NSX GT3 took ninth place (-0.663) whilst the new Lexus RC F GT3 took 13th (-0.783). GTD however looks to be an incredibly close fought battle during the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the top 19 cars were separated by just 1.075s.

    Session 1 Results

    Session 2 Results

    Photograph John Dagys - Sports Car 365

  • Round up from Daytona

    DragonSpeed dominated the final days testing at Daytona International Speedway, topping the time sheets in FP6 and FP7.

    Ex GP2 Driver Ben Hanley put the #81 Oreca 07 Gibson on top of the time sheets by just 0.02 seconds from the #55 Mazda RT24 DPI, both times were set during the first session of the day on Sunday morning. Hanley will share the car with Nicolas Lapierre, Loic Duval and Henrik Hedman for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

    Despite early dominance, the #13 Rebellion Oreca Gibson finished third overall after leading the test early on. Sebastien Buemi took the teams quickest time on Sunday Afternoon posting a time of 1:38.408. The #52 PR1/Mathiasen Ligier took fourth place ahead of the #5 Action Express Cadillac DPI after the trio of cars showed an improved pace in the final session of the weekend. Joao Barbosa was within four tenths of the leading DragonSpeed car. The final time sheet of the day showed that all 12 prototypes, both LMP2 and DPI, were split by just 1.3 seconds, a result that is full of promise of things to come at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 3 weeks time. There was good improvements from the team at VISIT FLORIDA Racing, the car was classified seventh at the end of the day, however, Marc Goossens, Renger van der Zande and Rene Rast were just 0.57 off the pace of the #81 DragonSpeed car.

    Performance Tech once again led the way in the PC Category, they were the first of just five cars on the grid.

    Ford topped the time sheets in GTLM once again finishing 1-2 overall. The #67 car with Ryan Briscoe at the wheel posted a time of 1:44.38 during the morning session, beating Scott Dixon’s quickest lap of Saturday by nearly two tenths in the same car. Brazilian Indy car driver put the #69 Ford GT second quickest in his first outing in the new Ford GT.

    The #59 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R lead the way in GT Daytona in their first appearance at the event in nearly 20 years. Sven Mueller put the car at the head of the field with a 1:46.810 on Sunday Morning ahead of the #33 Riley Motorsports Team Mercedes AMG GT3.

    The morning session was red flagged with a big fire for the #4 Corvette. Marcel Fassler escaped unharmed but the car was heavily damaged. The fire was caused by a fuel leak when a fuel injector line split. The fire burned through the bodywork of the front of the car, damaging key components under the front bonnet panel. The team are confident in getting the car repaired and back out for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, after all, it is nearly a year since the team experienced a fire in 2016 before going on to finish and incredible race with a dramatic 1-2 finish.

    Photograph motorsport.com

  • Spirit of Daytona take Sebring pole

    Action Express Cadillac held the early advantage in the 15 minute qualifying session with 16 cars vying for poll position at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. Juan Pablo Montoya temporarily held pole position in the Penske Acura before Tristan Vautier, in the #90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac took the qualifying lap record twice, first of all with a 1:47.71 and then shortly after, he posted a time of 1:47.432 to cement pole position for the Florida team.

    All 10 DPIs were ahead of the P2 entries with ESM in the mix as well for the front positions on the grid, Olivier Pla took second place despite power sliding through turn 17 in the #2 ESM.  The #7 Acura took third position ahead of the #22 ESM with a time of 1:47.834. It was positive news from the Mazda Team Joest camp, Rene Rast qualified in seventh place ahead of the Mustang Sampling and Konica Minolta Cadillacs. The 10 DPI entries were split by just 9 tenths of a second whilst seven tenths split the P2 runners, the quickest of which, the #99 JDC Miller/Gainsco Oreca was about 1.4 seconds off the pace of the #90 SDR Cadillac. Oreca hold the advantage in LMP2, all four chassis ahead of the two Ligier entries.

    Headlines in GTLM also this weekend as the BMW M8 GTE took its first pole position, Connor de Phillippi beating the 2017 lap record by a tenth with a time of 1:55.839. It was by no means an easy pole for the BMW however, James Calado in the Risi Competizione Ferrari came within just 0.058 of the pole time whilst Joey Hand also challenged the #25 BMW but to no aveil. By the end of the session, the top six were split by just 0.412s, the #24 BMW rounded out the top three whilst Ford Chip Ganassi Racing took fourth and fifth and the 912 Porsche 911 RSR took sixth position.

    The #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari took pole position in GTD in the hands of Daniel Serra who has teamed up the Aston Martin GTE Am factory line up of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda.

    Gunnar Jeannette took an early lead in the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari, posting a time of 1:59.609 early on in the session. Serra was quickly up to speed, going just over a tenth slower on his first flying lap, Jack Hawksworth the same behind Serra in the #15 Lexus before both Christopher Mies and Jack Hawksworth briefly each topped the time charts. Serra continued to push hard though and made it four provisional pole sitters in just a matter of minutes, five GTD cars under the previous lap record. The battle went down to the closing minutes, Serra taking a further few tenths out of his lap time was now 1 second below the previous record and half a second clear of Christopher Mies in the Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi.

    Images courtesy of imsaphoto.com