Race Weekend Central

Alexander Sims Quickest in Final Rolex 24 at Daytona Practice

Action Express Racing’s Alexander Sims put his Cadillac V-LMDh at the top of the charts early Friday afternoon (Jan. 27) with a lap at 134.209 mph. It is the first timed session led by the Cadillacs this year.

Session No. 3

The night practice session for IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams was the cleanest of the sessions on Thursday (Jan. 26). Of course, that doesn’t mean that it was squeaky clean.

19 minutes into the session, Cetilar Racing’s Roberto Lacorte slid off-course in West Bend and went into the tire barrier to bring out the session’s only red flag, but the 10th one of the day. Lacorte was ok and the team made reparirs to the Ferrari 296 GT3 quickly enough to get back out before the session was done.

One of the major tasks in the session was to test out Michelin’s new low temperature tire. This was supposed to happen during the night session at the ROAR Before the 24 last weekend, but rains prevented that from happening for the most part. On the surface, the task seemed to go off without a hitch.

After 105 minutes of running, Porsche Penske Motorsports’ Matt Campbell was fastest overall with a lap at 133.776 mph in his Porsche 963. Campbell was .172 seconds ahead of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport’s Filipe Albuquerque. Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Alex Lynn and Sebastien Bourdais were third and fourth, respectively, while Action Express Racing’s Alexander Sims was fifth in the third Cadillac.

AF Corse’s Matthieu Vaxiviere was fastest in LMP2 with a lap at 130.223 mph, 10th overall. Vaxiviere was .139 seconds quicker than PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Alex Quinn. Crowdstrike Racing by APR’s Ben Hanley was third, then Tower Motorsports’ Scott McLaughlin. Era Motorsport’s Oliver Jarvis was fifth.

As you may remember, team owner-driver John Farano crashed the Tower Motorsports ORECA 07-Gibson during qualifying on Sunday.

McLaughlin told Frontstretch on Thursday that the damage to the Tower Events No. 8 was actually not that bad. Most of what had to be changed out on the car was going to be changed out anyway after qualifying. The chassis itself came out unscathed.

Andretti Autosport’s Rasmus Lindh was fastest in LMP3 with a lap at 124.962 mph, good for 18th overall. Lindh’s lap was .325 seconds faster than Wayne Boyd in AWA’s No. 17 Duqueine. Teammate Matt Bell was third, then MRS GT-Racing’s Guilherme de Oliveira. Riley Motorsports’ Felipe Fraga was fifth.

In the GT ranks, WeatherTech Racing’s Maro Engel was fastest in GTD Pro and of all GT teams with a lap at 120.893 mph, the fastest GT lap of the weekend. Engel’s lap was .566 seconds faster than VasserSullivan’s Jack Hawksworth. Iron Lynx’s Mirko Bortolotti was third in his Lamborghini, followed by Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner. TeamTGM’s Matt Plumb was fifth.

Finally, Team Korthoff Motorsports’ Mikael Grenier kept up his form from Practice No. 2 to lead the charts in GTD once again with a lap at 120.704 mph, 28th overall. Grenier was a quarter of a second faster than Inception Racing’s Frederic Schandorff. VasserSullivan’s Parker Thompson, who is making his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut this weekend, was third. Gradient Racing’s Mario Farnbacher and Magnus Racing’s Spencer Pumpelly rounded out the top five.

Five teams did not take time in the session. The most notable of the group is Winward Racing’s No. 57 Mercedes. They announced Thursday night that Lucas Auer suffered lumbar fractures in his crash in Practice No. 1 and is out indefinitely.

See also
Lucas Auer Suffers Back Injury In Practice Crash

NTE/SSR tore down their Lamborghini after Kerong Li crashed in Practice No. 2 and sat out the session, as did Proton Competition after Francesco Pizzi‘s crash. Sean Creech Motorsports was also absent after mechanical issues right at the end of the session. Finally, Pfaff Motorsports chose to voluntarily skip the session.


Practice No. 4

Friday morning saw WeatherTech teams go out for one last hour of practice to tune up their cars prior to the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Sims turned in the fastest lap of the day with 15 minutes remaining in the session.

Sims’ lap was .224 seconds quicker than Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon. BMW M Team RLL’s Nick Yelloly was third, then Campbell and Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Simon Pagenaud.

The session came within a few minutes of becoming the only WeatherTech practice session to go without a red flag. However, Helio Castroneves spun his Acura ARX-06 exiting the pits and blocked the warmup lane, triggering a brief stoppage with 10 minutes to go.

There were also a few spins that did not bring out red flags, but did affect the session. Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia spun in West Bend after having contact with TDS Racing’s Giedo van der Garde. High Class Racing’s Anders Fjordbach and BMW M Team RLL’s Marco Wittmann also had harmless spins.

In LMP2, TDS Racing’s Mikkel Jensen was fastest with a lap at 130.706 mph, the fastest LMP2 lap of the weekend. The lap was .574 seconds faster than Jarvis. Hanley was third in his Crowdstrike-sponsored entry, then Kyffin Simpson and Ed Jones.

Jarett Andretti was fastest in LMP3 at 124.197 mph, .163 seconds faster than AWA’s Moritz Kranz. Nico Varrone was third, then Luca Mars and Joao Barbosa.

In the GT ranks, Grenier was again fastest at 120.479 mph. WeatherTech Racing’s Jules Gounon, who told Frontstretch earlier in the morning that his plan is to hold absolutely nothing back all weekend, was tops in GTD Pro at 120.168 mph.


About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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