Race Weekend Central

Alex Palou Fastest in Rolex 24 at Daytona Practice

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Practice for the Rolex 24 at Daytona largely mirrored much of last weekend’s ROAR Before the 24. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou was fastest overall in Cadillac with a lap at 134.074 mph during the afternoon session on Thursday (Jan. 25).

For Palou, someone who has had limited time in the Cadillac VSeries.R prior to the ROAR Before the 24, Thursday was rather educational.

“Lots of learning [for me]. Every time you go out in the car, you’re dealing with different conditions and traffic. I’m learning as much as I can from the car going into the race.”

Practice No. 1

In the morning practice session, Porsche Penske Motorsport’s Kevin Estre was quickest for a decent chunk of the session. He was eventually overtaken by Rene Rast. In the end, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon set a lap at 133.483 mph with two minutes remaining in the session to top the chart.

Dixon’s lap was .127 seconds faster than BMW M Team RLL’s Connor de Phillippi. Estre was third, then Dries Vanthoor in the second BMW. Dane Cameron was fifth in the best of the Porsches.

LMP2 was topped by CrowdStrike Racing by APR’s Toby Sowery with a lap at 128.925 mph, 11th overall. Sowery’s lap was .122 seconds faster than United Autosports’ Ben Hanley in the Wynn’s-sponsored No. 2. TDS Racing’s Charles Milesi was third, then Era Motorsport’s Ryan Dalziel. Inter Europol Competition with PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Tom Dillmann was third.

In the GT ranks, Gradient Racing’s Katherine Legge took advantage of the cooler conditions earlier in the session to set the best lap of all GT runners with a lap at 120.242 mph in her Acura. That lap was .275 seconds faster than Turner Motorsport’s Robby Foley. The Ferrari of Conquest Racing’s Albert Costa was third, then Winward Racing’s Russell Ward and Cetilar Racing’s Antonio Fuoco.

GTD Pro was led by Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth with a lap at 120.019 seconds. The lap was second of all GT drivers, nearly two-tenths of a second slower than Legge.

Hawksworth’s lap was .074 seconds faster than Pfaff Motorsports’ Marvin Kirchhoefer in his McLaren. Risi Competizione’s James Calado was third, then SunEnergy1 Racing’s Jules Gounon and Iron Lynx’s Mirko Bortolotti.

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 at Daytona Practice No. 1 Results

Practice No. 2

The 105-minute afternoon session was more of the same at the top of the chart. The Chip Ganassi Racing team was on top for the vast majority of the session. Renger van der Zande set the quickest time less than 30 minutes in. That time held up until Palou set the fastest time of the day during the final 15 minutes, which was dedicated to GTP and GTD Pro teams only.

Palou’s lap was .135 seconds faster than Porsche Penske Motorsport’s Felipe Nasr. Gianmaria Bruni in the Proton Competition Porsche was third, then Action Express Racing’s Jack Aitken. Mathieu Jaminet was fifth in the second factory Porsche.

Clement Novalak in the Inter Europol/PR1 Mathiasen No. 52 was quickest in LMP2 with a lap at 128.913 mph, just .009 seconds slower than Sowery in the opening practice. The lap was .081 seconds faster than defending class winner James Allen, now driving for DragonSpeed. CrowdStrike Racing by APR’s Malthe Jakobsen was third, then Tower Motorsports’ Scott McLaughlin. Riley Motorsports’ Felipe Massa was fifth.

In the GT classes, MDK Motorsports/High Class Racing’s Klaus Bachler backed up his strong pace from the ROAR Before the 24 to lead the GT3 drivers with a lap at 119.725 mph. Bachler’s lap was .040 seconds faster than the Ford Mustang GT3 of Dennis Olsen. Costa was third, then Jens Klingmann in the Turner BMW. Magnus Racing’s Nicki Thiim was fifth.

GTD Pro was topped by Pfaff Motorsports’ Alexander Rossi with a lap at 119.615 mph. That lap was only good enough for fourth among GT drivers, but was only .099 seconds slower than Bachler.

Rossi’s lap was .164 seconds faster than Risi Competizione’s Daniel Serra. AO Racing’s Laurin Heinrich was third in his Porsche, then Bortolotti and Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports’ Tommy Milner.

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 at Daytona Practice No. 2 Results

Practice No. 3

The only red flag in WeatherTech practice occurred 20 minutes into the session when Riley Motorsports’ Josh Burdon ran over debris on-track that blew out two tires. He chose to stop on-track in order to not damage the floor of his ORECA 07-Gibson. After the tires were changed and the car checked over, the Riley Motorsports ORECA returned to the track. Massa ended up 11th in class.

In the session itself, Action Express Racing’s Pipo Derani set the fastest lap of the session at 133.907 mph on his second lap out of the pits after the red flag. The lap ended up being .310 seconds faster than Nasr. Sebastien Bourdais was third in the Ganassi Cadillac, then de Phillippi and Philipp Eng in the No. 24 BMW.

Jakobsen took his silver and day-glo orange No. 04 to the top of the LMP2 class with a lap at 129.238 mph, the fastest LMP2 lap of the day. The lap was .306 seconds faster than United Autosports’ Patricio O’Ward. Era Motorsport’s Christian Rasmussen was third, then Tower Motorsport’s Ferdinand Habsburg. TDS Racing’s Mikkel Jensen was fifth.

Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports’ Earl Bamber was fastest in GTD Pro with a lap at 120.034 mph to lead all GT runners. His lap was .088 seconds faster than teammate Alexander Sims. Iron Lynx’s Matteo Cairoli was third in his Lamborghini, followed by Ford Multimatic Motorsports’ Harry Tincknell. Calado was fifth in his Ferrari.

MDK Motorsports/High Class Racing’s Larry ten Voorde was fastest in GTD with a lap at 119.692 mph, fifth quickest of all GT drivers. Ten Voorde’s lap was .022 seconds faster than Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Global’s Danny Formal. Cetilar Racing’s Eddie Cheever III was third in his Ferrari, then the McLaren of Inception Racing’s Tom Gamble. Kellymoss with Riley’s Julien Andlauer was fifth.

Two teams did not practice at all during the night session. One was Pfaff Motorsports. They spent the whole session practicing pit stops. The other was Vasser Sullivan’s No. 14 Lexus.

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 at Daytona Practice No. 3 Results

Practice No. 4

The final practice session of the weekend Friday morning (Jan. 26) ended up having the only wall contact prior to the race. With 15 minutes remaining in the session, Sean Creech Motorsport’s Dr. Lance Willsey lost control of his Ligier JS P217-Gibson exiting turn 2 and slid into the wall to bring out a red flag. Willsey was of=k, but the car suffered front end and left side damage.

Like the other sessions, Cadillac was back at the front of the field. Action Express Racing’s Jack Aitken was fastest overall with a lap at 133.524 mph. That lap was .239 seconds faster than the No. 25 BMW of de Phillippi. Bourdais was third, then JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Richard Westbrook and Proton Competition’s Neel Jani.

In LMP2, Jensen was fastest in the TDS Racing No. 11 with a lap at 129.353 mph, the fastest class lap of the weekend. Jensen’s lap was .707 seconds faster than AF Corse’s Matthieu Vaxiviere. Era Motorsport’s Ryan Dalziel was third, then CrowdStrike by APR’s Jakobsen. Despite a spin by team owner/driver PJ Hyett during the session, AO Racing’s Alex Quinn was fifth.

In the GT ranks, Andretti Motorsports’ Thomas Preining was fastest with a lap at 119.695 mph. Preining’s lap was .286 seconds faster than Turner Motorsport’s Jens Klingmann. Triarsi Competizione’s Ricardo Agostini was third, then Olsen. The Iron Dames’ Rahel Frey was fifth.

In GTD Pro, Cairoli was fastest in the No. 60 Iron Lynx Lamborghini at 119.509 mph, second-best of all GT racers, .167 seconds slower than Preining. Cairoli was .147 seconds faster than Risi Competizione’s Daniel Serra. SunEnergy1 Racing’s Jules Gounon was third, then Ford Multimatic Motorsports teammates Christopher Mies and Frederic Vervisch.

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 at Daytona Practice No. 4 Results

The Rolex 24 at Daytona is scheduled to go green at 1:40 p.m. ET Saturday afternoon. Coverage from Daytona will start on NBC at 1:30 p.m. ET. Check your local listings to see if your local affiliate is airing the broadcast. From there, the schedule is as follows (the time periods not listed are Peacock-exclusive slots):

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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This man can drive,.. I wonder if he’s considered Nascar? 🤔

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