World champ Neel Jani impressed at The Roar before the Rolex 24
Fifty-five cars took part at The Roar before the Rolex 24, the official test of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Daytona International Speedway. The first race of the championship, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, is scheduled for January 26-29.
All crews which came to Daytona had an opportunity for seven practice sessions from Friday to Sunday, with different lighting and weather conditions. Four classes of cars were in the field, led by new DPi and LMP2 prototypes.
The fastest driver in a three-day test was Ben Hanley in DragonSpeed’s #81 Oreca LMP2 prototype. He set the overall fastest time on the last day, laping around Daytona road-course circuit for 1 minute 38.343 seconds. Jonathan Bomarito was just 0.02 seconds slower in the all-new #55 Mazda DPi.
The man who impressed everybody on the first two days was the 33-year-old Swiss driver Neel Jani. Nothing strange, you would say, he’s the world endurance champion and 24h Le Mans winner. But, Jani was at Daytona International Speedway for the first time in his life and he was driving Rebellion Racing’s Oreca-Gibson LMP2 prototype for the first time. However, he showed that he is a fast learner and he set the fastest time on Friday, both in the morning and afternoon sessions. Next day, in Saturday’s night practice, he was the only to lap under 1:39, with lap time 1:38.944.
There were eleven Prototype class cars on the track, new DPi prototypes from Cadillac, Nissan and Mazda among them. In the Prototype Challenge class, just five cars appeared. GT field featured 11 GTLM cars and 27 GTD entries.
In the GTLM class, Chevrolet Corvette C7.R and Ford GT shared the fastest times. Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen was the fastest driver on Friday in the #3 Corvette, Scott Dixon was the fastest man on Saturday with Chip Ganassi’s #67 Ford. On Sunday, the #67 Ford was the fastest again, driven by Ryan Briscoe.