Penske & Mazda Set the Pace In Daytona 24 Practice


Acura Team Penske and Mazda Team Joest gave their new cars a promising Daytona debut as they set the pace in the first two practice sessions of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. 

Rene Rast set the quickest time for first practice in the brand new #77 Mazda RT24-P DPi Prototype 1 minute 37.428 seconds.

Graham Rahal then took honours in the second session for the new #7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 car setting a time of 1 minute 37.036 seconds in the #7 car, while the #77 dropped down to 9th.

The speed of the new Joest Racing Mazdas, which struggled at the Roar Before the 24 Test event, was down o the series of rules tweaks in the Prototype class.

Rene Rast took advantage of performance breaks given to Mazda to set the quickest time in first practice. Credit: Jake Galstad/LAT Images

The RT24-P has been given a 15kg weight break and an 300rpm increase in revs in a Balance of Performance change, helping them to get back on the pace of the front runners.

The dominant Cadillac runners, which topped every session of the test, had their twin engine air-restrictors cut in diameter by 0.6mm.

As a result Cadillac’s pace was blunted, but not by much.

Tristian Vautier was the quickest of the Cadillac runners in  practice one as the #90 Spirit of Daytona second fastest just 0.07 slower than Rast.

Fellow Cadillac runners such as last year’s Rolex 24 winners the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac scored 3rd and 6th places in both practice sessions while their main rival, the #5 Mustang Sampling Racing took 4th and 3rd spots in the sessions.

Fernando Alonso did not get to take part in the first practice session after co-driver Phil Hanson put the #23 United Autosports Ligier-Gibson JS P217s in the wall.

The damage was minor however and the car went on to set the 12th fastest time in session two, with Lando Norris setting the fastest time.

Joey Hand led the way for Ford in the GTLM class in first practice one as the American posted a 1 minute 44.062 seconds time in his Ganassi Ford GT.

His time was half a second up on second-placed Alessandro Pier Guidi in the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE.

The CORE-run factory Porsche 911 RSRs showed their pace as Patrick Pilet took the fastest time for session two.

The #911 set a fastest time of 1 minute 43.902 seconds which was 0.068 seconds faster than Jan Magnussen in #3 Corvette Racing Corvette.

Miguel Molina took top spot in the GTD division in his Risi Ferrari 488 GT3 with a best time of 1 minute 47.223 seconds in first practice one.

But Alvaro Parente in the #86 Acura NSX stormed the GTD field in practice two, setting a time of 1 minute 46.790 seconds which was 0.242 seconds faster than Molina’s Ferrari.