Sebastien Bourdais in the new-for-2016 Ford GT has claimed top spot at the Rolex 24 at Daytona having led a much interrupted free practice two.
Dark skies greeted competitors in Florida for the 30 minute session with wet running on the cards for the whole field. Some, like Porsche North America and the two Mazda Motorsports prototypes – as well as a handful of PC and GTD competitors, decided not to run in the session and keep their cars in one piece for qualifying later today.
For those who did venture out, it quickly became the GTLM show as the #66 Ford GT set a 1:56.024 to lead the Ferrari 488 GTEs of Risi Competizione and SMP Racing. Both the Corvette Racing C.7Rs claimed fourth and fifth with the #4 beating the #3.
As those times were logged, the first red flag came out as both the #8 Starworks Prototype Challenge Oreca FLM09 and the #50 Highway to Help Riley-BMW stopped with unconnected issues at the Bus Stop. Both made it back to the pits without any major problems reported on their return.
When the track got back to green, the prototypes made their limited impression on the top ten as the SMP Racing BR01 found itself 6th and the Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP finished 8th. Being sandwiched in the middle in seventh was the #25 Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM.
Rounding out the top ten was the #68 Scuderia Corse Ferrari 488 GTE and the second BMW M6 GTLM. Other significant positions included unlucky 13th which was occupied by the fastest PC entry – the #20 BAR1 Motorsports car. 18th place saw the fastest GT Daytona car, the Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 driven by Maxime Martin.
Of note elsewhere in the session was a second red flag, for two right-rear tyre failures at almost the same time for two GTD entrants. The first was the #007 TRG-AMR Vantage GT3 which saw its tyre explosively let go on the front stretch, a lot of the rear bodywork and rear wing was damaged but it managed to negotiate itself back into the pit lane.
Around the same time, the fastest-in-class #97 Turner Motorsport car also experienced an unexpected delamination. Thankfully for the team, the car suffered no other damage.
The next session is qualifying taking place this afternoon Florida time.