Roar Before the Rolex 24
All-Star Cadillac team tops speed chart in Rolex 24 At DAYTONA practice; Neil Alberico wins IMSA Prototype Challenge in sports car racing debut.
  • Qualifying for Rolex 24 Pit Stalls Begins With All-Female Team Taking GT Daytona Honors
  • Final Day of ‘Roar’ on Sunday
  • 57th Running of Rolex 24 At DAYTONA Set for Jan. 26-27

Wayne Taylor Racing has brought another all-star lineup to Daytona International Speedway and now, it’s clear the organization has another Rolex 24 At DAYTONA championship contender.


Former Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso and his teammate from World Endurance Championship competition, Kamui Kobayashi, have joined WTR regulars Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande for the Jan. 26-27 endurance classic that opens the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. The foursome is co-driving the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R.


WTR won the Rolex 24 in 2017, with another special lineup that featured three-time DAYTONA 500 champion Jeff Gordon. After the first two of three Roar test days, optimism is building about a possible return trip to the Rolex 24’s Gatorade Victory Lane. WTR led two of the first four practices; in the fourth, on Saturday afternoon, van der Zande posted the fastest lap of the Roar – 1 minute, 34.534 seconds, equating to 135.563 mph on the 3.56-mile road course.


Following a Saturday night practice, Rolex 24 teams have two Sunday practices before the Roar wraps up.


IMSA’s first race of 2019 was held Saturday, the three-hour Scouts of America IMSA Prototype Challenge, a prototype-only series. Neil Alberico – making not only his DIS debut but his debut in sports car racing – teamed with Leo Lamelas for the victory in the No. 4 Ligier JS P3 of Ansa Motorsports.


The race was rampant with spins and lock-ups. Alberico and Lamalas managed to avoid most of the problems befalling others.


“To start and win my first race at Daytona at the beginning of the season is spectacular,” said California-native Alberico. “Pit stops and strategy are a lot of fun. We timed the first caution very well and got to the front fairly early.”


It was a late-race restart that secured the victory, after Alberico restarted first with all but one other car at least one lap down after a shuffle in pit strategy. The other lead-lap team was the No. 47 Norma M30 of Forty7 Motorsports, initially driven by Peruvian-native Rodrigo Pflucker through the field from its 16th starting position to finish second.


“It was a hard race for sure,” said Pflucker, who is the only Peruvian to currently be racing internationally. “We started near last and we wanted to be in the front as much as possible and I think we accomplished that.”


For the second-straight year during the Roar, IMSA has spiced up the schedule by having teams qualify for Rolex 24 pit-road selections. On Saturday, qualifying was held for the production car-based GT Daytona class, with former IndyCar driver Bia Figueiredo – part of an all-female team from Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian – topping the chart. Qualifying in the WeatherTech Championship’s three other classes – DPi, LMP2 and GT Le Mans – will be held Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.


Tickets for the 2019 Rolex 24 At DAYTONA 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.

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