Ganassi completes the last training session for GTP teams
IMSA had a short, 20-minute practice session on Friday night – for GTP teams only – to give them a final shakedown ahead of the start of the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Saturday. Six cars ventured into the grid during the session including the two Cadillacs operated by Chip Ganassi Racing, the two BMW M Team RLL cars and the two 963s operated by Porsche Penske Motorsports. Others, like the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac, found no problems in the midday session and opted to sit it out. Renger van der Zande achieved a fast time of 1:36.742 minutes in the No. 01 Cadillac.
Driver change in GTD #42 NTE/SSSR Lamborghini
IMSA issued waivers to several of the drivers who had to do night practice before driving in the dark in the race but missed the one-night session due to car accidents or other issues. However, some drivers were not granted special permits, including Kerong Li, driver of the #42 NTE/SSR Lamborghini Huracán. Since Li would not have been granted an exemption, it would have meant that Don Yount, who had been granted an exemption, would have had to drive at night. Yount has stepped aside and Robert Megennis, who has previously raced with the team, will get in the car.
WeatherTech on Wall Street
WeatherTech took the unusual step of running a win ad…for a pole position. With a week between qualifying and the race, WeatherTech Racing had plenty of time to run an ad in the Wall Street Journal to celebrate GTD PRO pole position for the #79 Mercedes AMG. No word on if they’ll repeat the ad buying if the team wins the race.
Porsche driver Thomas Laudenbach: “I don’t understand”
“The boundary conditions that we have been given in GT3 for the 24-hour race so far are difficult for me to understand, so I can’t explain something that I don’t understand,” said Laudenbach. “I think that’s why it’s already obvious that we’re two to three seconds behind. That’s way too much, and I don’t understand exactly why we’re getting these boundary conditions. I’ve spoken to our drivers – you know, we have Kevin Estre here, and I credit him because he really is one of the top drivers in a GT car – and when he comes up to me and says, ‘Thomas, he can do that I do. I mean, I’m floored.” For me, this is a clear sign that this is not the best position to start a 24-hour race.”
Hurley Haywood: A worthy successor to the 962
Porsche Daytona legend Hurley Haywood has watched the rollout of the LMDh cars in the GTP class and is impressed with what he is seeing.
“I was part of the introduction of the 962 when it first came to America, and that was really electric,” Haywood said. “It was like a driver’s dream come true, this car. Fast forward to today – the new technology in these race cars is truly incredible and the guys driving them not only have to be fantastic racers, they have to be almost like engineers who are able to understand the commands that it there come out of the box what adjustments need to be made. In my opinion it is very difficult for a driver to have the concentration that he needs, but also that concentration is interrupted by commands that he has to carry out. So there is a huge burden on their shoulders and they are doing everything right.”
Haywood added that he felt the 963, once again a car used by Porsche customers, was a worthy successor to the 962.
Parker Thompson, Rolex newcomer
Not only is Parker Thompson a Rolex 24 at Daytona rookie, but he has never raced at night and has never made a driver change. Third driver of the #12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 with Aaron Telitz and Frankie Montecalvo, plus Daytona newcomer Kyle Kirkwood knows it’s his job to support them.
“That’s their championship and there’s a lot of ways I can lose it this race and there’s not really a lot of ways I can win this race,” Thompson said. “So keep the car clean, make sure I get through my stints well, make me save fuel and brakes for them at the end of the race and then let them handle it.”
The 2022 Porsche Carrera Cup North America Champion notes that he’s a bit nervous getting in the car ahead of the first driver change, but he’s just as excited to roll out of the pit lane for the first time during the race.