Portuguese driver Joao Barbosa was the fastest man on track as the new era of sportscar racing in the US began with the first day of Tudor United SportsCar Championship testing at Sebring International Speedway.
Driving the #5 Action Express Racing Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype Barboas lapped the airfield track in 1:53.266. It was the first outing for a Daytona Prototype running with the upgrades added in order to balance the performance between the DP and LMP2 machinery that will race together in the Prototype class of the new championship, together with the DeltaWing Coupe.
“It’s very hard to compare, but you definitely feel the power around the corners and the high-speed corners seem to be better, obviously, with higher downforce,” Barbosa said. “It just drives good. The car felt really good. I had a great time driving this car around here. I’m looking forward to going to Daytona and see exactly how we compare and stack up with what we ran last year and how we stack up with the P2 cars and how balanced all this is. I’m just looking forward to go back out there and drive the car again to see how much we can get.”
The American Le Mans Series champion team Pickett Racing were fastest in the Prototype Challenge class, where they expect to focus their campaign in the first year of the new series.
BMW Team RLL’s Z4 GTE was the fastest car in the GT Le Mans class – the cars which ran in the ALMS’ GT class until now – while Toni Vilander was the fastest man in the GT Daytona category, the class created by the merger of the Rolex Series GT ranks and the ALMS’ GTC runners.
The Finn was driving with the GTD-spec car for the first time with Rolex Series regulars Scuderia Corsa. His best lap of the day was a 2:05.058, an effort more than three seconds slower than the GTLM leading BMW.
“It’s certainly different driving the GTD class Ferrari for the first time after driving in WEC,” said Vilander, who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Ferrari 458 in 2012. “It’s no easier or harder, it’s just different. The basic setup of the car is in the right window. I was able to start trying things at the end of the session.”
Testing at Sebring, which will host the 12 Hours of Sebring, the second round of the new series in March, continues tomorrow. Two days of testing at Daytona International Speedway are scheduled for next week.