Cadillac dominated the opening session on the opening day of the ROAR before the 24 at the Daytona International Speedway, locking out the top four places, while Fernando Alonso’s first outing in LMP2 saw his United Autosports car end up inside the top six.
The #5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi of Joao Barbosa, Felipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi set the pace with a best lap of 1:37.266s, 0.262 seconds clear of the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing machine of Renger van der Zande, Jordan Taylor and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Tristan Vautier, Matt McMurry and Eddie Cheever III ended third in the #90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac, just ahead of the #31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac of Felipe De Oliveira, Eric Curran, Mike Conway and Stuart Middleton, with the top four covered by less than half a second.
The fastest non-Cadillac was the #54 CORE Autosport Oreca LMP2 of Jon Bennett, Colin Braun, Romain Dumas and Loic Duval, while the #23 United Autosports Ligier LMP2 of Alonso, Phil Hanson and Lando Norris ended up sixth fastest, with the latter setting the cars best time of the session, 0.904 seconds off the pace of the #5.
Alonso, perhaps the most high profile addition to the field for the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2018, only completed five laps in the session after Hanson and Norris took their turns in the car first, but the Spaniard set a best time of 1:39.604s on his third and final flying lap, 1.434 seconds off of Norris’ best.
The two JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca’s ended seventh and eighth, the #99 ahead of the #85, while the #6 Acura Team Penske machine was ninth, ahead of the #2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi in tenth.
The two Mazda Team Joest entries did not get onto the track during the seventy-five minute session, with the #20 BAR1 Motorsports Multimatic/Riley LMP2 also failing to appear.
GT Le Mans
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing led the way in GT Le Mans class, with the #67 of Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon setting the best time of 1:44.095s, which ended 0.320 seconds ahead of the sister #66 car of Dirk Mueller, Joey Hand and Sebastien Bourdais.
The sole Ferrari 488 GTE from Risi Competizione ended up third fastest in the hands of Alessandro Pier Guidi, who is sharing the car with James Calado and Toni Vilander, with the two Porsche 911 RSR’s just behind, the #912 ahead of the #911, with Laurens Vanthoor and Patrick Pilet respectively setting the best times of the two cars.
Corvette Racing ended sixth and seventh, with the #3 of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller ahead of the #4 of Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin and Marcel Fässler.
The debuting BMW M8 GTLM’s brought up the rear, with the #25 more than three seconds off the pace in eighth, while the #24 did not get onto the track.
The #11 GRT Grasser Racing Team of Rolf Ineichen, Mirko Bortolotti, Franck Perera and Rik Breukers ended the session fastest in their Lamborghini Huracan with a best time of 1:47.104s, with the top ten in class all within a second of their pace.
The #59 Manthey-Racing Porsche ended up second fastest, with Sven Muller setting the best time, with the second Grasser Lamborghini, the #19, third fastest ahead of the #29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi in fourth.
The #73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche ended up fifth ahead of the #44 Magnus Racing Audi, while the two 3GT Racing Lexus’ ended seventh and ninth, the #15 ahead of the #14, either side of the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW, and ahead of the #33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports entry in tenth.