DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The first TUDOR United SportsCar Championship test session at Daytona International Speedway is officially in the books.
The two-day test session concluded on Wednesday and featured more than two dozen teams shaking down their cars in advance of the season-opening 52nd anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 25-26.
There will be one more official International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) test prior to the Rolex 24 – the Roar Before The Rolex 24 on Jan. 3-5.
This week’s test was the first for the IMSA-sanctioned TUDOR Championship, the result of the merger between the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
During the two days, a total of 5,645 laps, 20,096.2 miles were turned around the 3.56-mile road course.
On Wednesday, officials from IMSA and Continental Tire jointly decided to suspend on-track testing of the TUDOR Championship Prototype (P) and Prototype Challenge (PC) race cars after issues were discovered during test on Tuesday.
On-track testing continued on Wednesday for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes as well as the DeltaWing DWC13 prototype – which utilizes a unique tire and technical package.
Fastest of the test: Action Express Racing was the fastest in the Prototype (P) class with a lap of 1 minute, 39.623 seconds in the No. 5 Corvette DP while Performance Tech Motorsports led the PC class with a lap of 1:42.830 by the No. 38 ORECA FLM09/Chevrolet.
In the GTLM class, the No. 93 SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-R was fastest with a lap of 1:46.912 and the No. 63 Scuderia Corse Ferrari 458 topped the GTD class with a lap of 1:48.747.
The DeltaWing DWC13 prototype, being driven by Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick, posted a fast time of 1:40.883 on Wednesday.
“This test has been wonderful, not only for teams to learn their new cars, but it’s been a great show of support for the GTD class as every single entry is here to participate and show what they’ve got – and all of them are near the top of the charts,” said Andy Lally of Magnus Racing. “We have an extremely competitive class, and it’s neat to see people from both sides of the paddocks that I’ve been racing in for more than one decade on both sides of the fence, together in one happy paddock.”
Special unveil: During the lunch break of the second day of testing on Wednesday, Jim France, the Chairman of IMSA and International Speedway Corporation (ISC), IMSA CEO Ed Bennett and NASCAR President Mike Helton unveiled the IMSA logos added to the signage outside the eight-story International Motorsports Center (IMC).
The IMC building is home to the headquarters for IMSA, NASCAR and ISC.
Sunoco Challenge winner: England’s Bradley Smith, who races the Radical SR3 Challenge in Europe, got his first taste of Daytona International Speedway during this week’s test.
The 22-year-old Smith, who earned a driver’s seat in a to-be-named Daytona Prototype for the upcoming Rolex 24 through the Sunoco Challenge program, tested in an Action Express Racing DP.
Smith began his testing program for the Rolex 24 on Monday with a tour of the DAYTONA Rising construction project and took some laps around the 3.56-mile road course with sports car veteran Joao Barbosa.
“This car is a lot different from what I’m used to racing,” Smith said. “It’s a beast – a lot more power and grip than what I’m used to. Having three experienced guys like Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais helping me out on my first day has made me feel quite comfortable. They’re a great bunch of guys, and they’ve answered all my questions.
“We managed to end up with a decent time – I ended up two tenths faster than Christian. But I’m sure he would have gone faster if he went back out. I think of myself as the novice here, and to be within a second of their time here is fantastic. There were almost 200 people entered (in the Sunoco Challenge), so to win it was fantastic.”
Tickets for the 52nd running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Roar Before The Rolex 24, the three-day test session scheduled for January 3-5, can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
Fans can follow sports cars at www.imsa.com, go on Twitter at TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (@UnitedSportsCar) and the Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge (@SUNOCO_UK). Fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for the latest news all season long. Fans can follow the latest on DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation at the “World Center of Racing” by using #DAYTONARising on Twitter or visiting www.daytonarising.com.