Just as at the series’ pre-season test earlier this month the first practice session for the Rolex 24 at Daytona was led by Riley and Porsche and Porsche again in the Daytona Prototype, GT and GX classes respectively.
New at the top, however, was the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW-Riley and Juan Pablo Montoya. The Columbian waited until the minutes of the hour-long session to blaze to the top of the timesheets, his 1:40.937 a second faster that the lap of A.J. Allmendinger that looked destined to start of the Rolex 24 defence weekend off in fine style for Michael Shank Racing.
The two MSR Ford-Rileys were among the top times throughout the session, ‘Roar Before the 24’ test topper Michael Valiante ensuring the team’s second car would end the session fourth fastest behind the Dane Cameron driven Team Sahlen BMW-Riley.
Ryan Dalziel was fifth fastest for Starworks Motorsport. Impressively Sunoco Challenge winner Ivan Bellarosa was the fastest man in the team’s #8 Ford-Riley, his lap of 1:43:415 not only faster than any of his co-drivers but also faster than anyone for a time earlier in the session. Bellarosa’s time would eventually fall to eighth fastest, the Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP and the Doran Racing Ford-Dallara separating the two Starworks cars.
Andy Lally was the fastest man in GT (1:48.263) for defending champions Magnus Racing, Damien Faulkner second fastest in the Alex Job Racing #23 Porsche.
Unlike in the ‘Roar Before the 24’ when Porsche teams dominated the top times the German marques streak at the top ended in third fastest with the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458. Two more Porsches – MOMO/NGT Motorsports and Konrad Motorsport/Orbit completed the top five with Oliver Jarvis the fastest man in the AJR Audi R8 Grand-Am.
Napleton Racing continued their own strong form in the first practice session for the new GX class, David Donahue the fastest man at 1:54.310. BGB Motorsports were second fastest in class with their own Porsche Cayman, though their session ended prematurely when Ryan Eversley lost drive in the #38 bringing out one of two yellow flags during the session, the other being caused by an off by the Alex Job Porsche that ended second fastest in GT.