The final practice session of the season-opening weekend at the Daytona International Speedway ahead of Saturday’s green flag for the Rolex 24 at Daytona took place on Friday morning.
- RESULTS: 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona Practice 4
As the first session of the weekend to be run in dry conditions, times set in Practice 4 were more relevant and comparable to what will be run in the season opener for the renamed IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, beginning on Saturday afternoon.
The DeltaWing DWC13 was finally able to stretch its legs around the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course after impressing last time out at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 earlier this month, as Katherine Legge turned a 1:38.590, marking both the top time overall of Practice 4 and of the weekend thus far.
The No. 0 entry from the renamed Panoz DeltaWing Racing team seems to remain strong entering the season opener despite a 5kg weight increase (from 515 to 520kg) as well as a 0.19 reduction in boost ratio Balance of Performance adjustment following the eye-opening showing at the Roar.
Rounding out the top-three behind the DeltaWing coupe was a pair of Ligier JS P2s from Michael Shank Racing and Extreme Speed Motorsports, respectively, followed by Nos. 10 and 5 Corvette DPs of Wayne Taylor Racing and Action Express Racing.
The biggest drama for the flagship class came when the pole-sitting No. 37 BR01 prototype lost its Nissan engine during the session. Kirill Ladygin was at the controls of the car when the engine failed, less than 18 hours after Mikhail Aleshin earned the car its first ever pole position.
Russian team SMP Racing will fortunately not have to retreat to the rear of the Prototype grid for Rule 40.2.8 of the IMSA Sporting Regulations and Series Supplementary Regulations states:
“For any Car requiring an engine change after qualifying, Entrant must give written notice to the Technical Director and Race Director no later than two (2) hours prior to the Race start. For Races of six (6) hours or less, such Car(s) must start from the back of the starting grid in its category.”
Because of the engine trouble, the No. 37 P2-style car failed to set a time in Practice 4.
As the lone returning driver to the car for this season, Tom Kimber-Smith turned a 1:43.283 in PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ No. 52 car to finish Practice 4 at 12th fastest overall behind the leading Prototype entries and atop the PC class.
Over a full 1.2 seconds back was the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports car with the No. 54 CORE autosport entry rounding out the top three in the session for the secondary prototype category.
GT Le Mans
The No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM led a BMW Team RLL 1-2 in the session, with the sister No. 100 car following behind.
Behind the BMW pair, the three new Ferrari 488 GTE cars making their race debut were split by the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Earl Bamber, Frédéric Makowiecki and Michael Christensen, with Scuderia Corsa’s 488 GTE ending the session third behind the BMWs and the Nos. 72 and 62 of SMP Racing and Risi Competizione, respectively, behind the Porsche.
The pair of Ford GTs ended the first dry session of the weekend 10th and 11th in the GTLM class, with the No. 67 of Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Stefan Mücke turning a 1:45.805 to top the sister No. 66 car by 0.17 seconds.
Topping the GTD class was the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Park Place Motorsports, which Norbert Siedler placed on the class pole on Thursday afternoon.
Siedler’s pole-winning time in the wet on Thursday, a 2:05.798, can be compared to the car’s class-leading time from Friday morning, a 1:47.594.
A pair of Lamborghini Huracán GT3s, the Nos. 48 and 11 of Paul Miller Racing and O’Gara Motorsport, respectively, were third and fourth fastest in the hour-long Practice 4, with the Park Place Porsche and Paul Miller Lamborghini the only two in the class to reach the 1:47 bracket in the session.
Fourth was the No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 of Turner Motorsport, followed by the No. 23 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Alex Job Racing, with the quickest of the updated-for-2016 Audi machinery following in sixth as the No. 44 Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Magnus Racing.
The green flag will fly to get the 24-hour season opener underway on the Daytona International Speedway road course on Sunday at 2:40 p.m. EDT.