Suntrust Racing continued their strong from in the build-up to the 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona by leading the first official practice session at the Florida Speedway on the Thursday afternoon before the race.
After setting the best time in the Roar Before the 24 test earlier this month Max Angelelli set the best time – 1.41.952 – in the opening 90 minute session for Wayne Taylor's team – one of several to use the brand new Corvette DP chassis.
The defending champions in the no.01 Ganassi Riley-BMW were second on the timesheets over a tenth of a second adrift of the Italian's pace.
The new look Daytona Prototypes swept the top eight positions with the Gainsco entry, Michael Shank Racing's no.60, the two Action Express Racing Corvettes and the second Ganassi entry all covered by less than a second.
It was not all plain sailing for the new ear of DP cars as Starworks Motorsport's no.8 Riley-Ford missed the entire session, undergoing an engine change. The work continued a troubled Rolex 24 for the team, with start drivers Tony Kanaan and E.J. Viso already forced out of the no.2 car due to sponsorship problems.
The best of the old-spec cars was the no.6 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian entry that carries British F3 champion Felipe Nasr amongst its drivers.
The GT pace was set by Spencer Pumpelly in the no.67 TRG Porsche GT3, just a fraction clear of American BMW and GT regular Bill Auberlen in the fastest of the two distinctively yellow and blue liveried BMW M3s in the race.
Pumpelly won the GT class of the 2011 Rolex 24 co-driving with Wolf Henzler, Steven Bertheau, Brendan Gaughan and Andy Lally. Bertheau and Henzler are also aimingfor a second consecutive title as part of the no.67 crew, with European racers Marc Goossens and Jeroen Bleekemolen completing the team.
The session was stopped three times for minor issues for mechanical issues with the no.99 Gainsco entry as well as for the The Racers Edge Dodge Viper and Oryx Racing Audi, which span on the infield section of the 3.56 mile track.