Joao Barbosa Leads First Day Of Rolex Series’ Daytona Test

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Joao Barbosa was the fastest man for Action Express Racing on the first day of the Rolex Series’ test at Daytona International Speedway.

The Portuguese driver recorded a lap of 1:41.334 in the last of the day’s three sessions to top the timesheets in the #9 Chevrolet Corvette DP. The same car was the fastest during the second session in the hands of Christian Fittipaldi, brothers Brian and Burt Frisselle complete the four man line-up in the car for the two day, which concludes tomorrow (November 14).

Alex Gurney started the day fastest for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, the team later announcing the line-up for the January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“We spent today trying different chassis setups,” said Barbosa. “We definitely have a lot of work to do, but we improved with every session and it’s definitely working better than it did here last January. We’ve got plenty of room to improve, but we’re heading in the right direction.”

Gurney went on to be the third fastest man of the day, with Ozz Negri second fastest for 2012 Rolex 24 winner Michael Shank Racing.

Running in the #52 for Audi of America Frank Biela was the fastest man in GT, lapping the road course at the high banked superspeedway in 1:48.953. Boris Said was second fastest in Whelen Engineering’s Corvette, Porsche works driver Patrick Long third fastest, eight tenths slower than Biela, in the Park Place Motorsport Porsche also driven by Patrick Lindsey and Jason Hart.

“Very impressive,” Biela summed up the famous venue. “It was a strange feeling with the banking at first, but I quickly started enjoying it.” He added tantalisingly; “we’re still in discussion about our plans for 2013, but I’d like to do not only the Rolex 24, but we’re talking about doing the whole season.”

Also offering an intriguing glimpse at a future possibility was the presence of Conquest Endurance’s LMP2 Morgan-Nissan with driver Martin Plowman. The appearance is one of the early on-track manifestations of the merger between the American Le Mans Series, where Conquest regularly race, and the Rolex Series for the 2014 season.

“We knew coming into the test that today was not about comparisons, it was purely to give the tire guys some indication of how our cars work, in the exact same conditions as the Rolex Series cars on track,” Plowman said. “It was a brand new tire for us, and we had to work very hard to get the setup right. I was very happy with how they worked. By the end of the morning, we were very happy with it. During the afternoon, we did a full race stint simulation. We were hoping for a qualifying simulation, but miscalculated our fuel. Other than that, we ticked every box that we wanted to do.”

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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