Round one of testing for the 56th Rolex 24 at DAYTONA began Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway with sports cars in three separate classes taking to the 3.56-mile road course in preparation for the season-opening IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race on Jan. 27-28.
Ten of those cars are in the headlining Prototype class, including the reigning champion team of Wayne Taylor Racing, with Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande sharing driving duties in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi. Jordan’s brother and former co-driver Ricky Taylor is also testing, albeit with his new team – high-profile Team Penske, with Acura DPis fielded by legendary owner Roger Penske. Ricky Taylor, who shared the 2017 Prototype championship with his brother – including the 2017 Rolex 24 victory – is part of an all-star Penske lineup that features former Indianapolis 500 champions Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya; Montoya also is a three-time Rolex 24 champion.
“It’s good to be back … everybody loves running at Daytona,” Jordan Taylor said. “This test gives us a little head start, going through some little things, making some adjustments to find some more speed.
“Ricky and I drove together for four years, so we created a good bond not only as brothers but as teammates, to have a good understanding of what we needed to click and win races. Now we have Renger for next year so this test is great to have him come in for two days, get to know the team, get to know the car, the little details. Every detail counts and when we get to January we want to have all those things sorted out.”
While the Taylor brothers may have split up on the race track, a common bond remains. They live in Apopka and have been coming to the Rolex 24 since the 1990s when their father and two-time Rolex 24 champion Wayne Taylor was a top IMSA competitor.
“Daytona’s our home race,” Jordan Taylor said. “It’s become a tradition for us.”
Orlando resident – and Scotland native – Ryan Dalziel also considers the Rolex 24 a hometown race of sorts. Dalziel, a Rolex 24 champion in 2010, co-drives with 2016 champion Scott Sharp in the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi.
“For us, 2018 starts today,” Dalziel said Tuesday. “I look forward to this race every year and it seems like every year we put on a spectacular show.”
On Tuesday, Rolex 24 entries had two 2-hour, 45-minute sessions. In addition, entries in the new IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda were afforded two one-hour sessions. The Prototype Challenge will have its inaugural race at DIS on Jan. 6. Testing for the Rolex 24 continues Wednesday for Rolex 24 entries. Also, cars from IMSA’s popular production-based Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge will test Wednesday in advance of that series’ opening race, the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge on Jan. 26.
Rolex IMSA teams will return to DIS on Jan. 5-7 for the annual “Roar Before The Rolex 24” – the official preseason test sessions that are open to the public.
Tickets for the Roar Before the Rolex 24, Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, 60th annual DAYTONA 500 and other Daytona International Speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
Tickets for the 60th annual DAYTONA 500 and other Speedweeks events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.