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Rolex 24 at Daytona 2023: Thursday Update

Acura, Cadillac, Porsche Lead Eventful First Day of Official Sessions at Daytona

Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport's Filipe Albuquerque, Chip Ganassi Racing's Richard Westbrook and Porsche Penske Motorsports's Matt Campbell set the pace during the first three practice sessions of the IMSA Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona weekend.

Image - Adam Prescott - Prescott Motorsport

Filipe Albequerque's Acura ARX-06 ended the first session with a time of 1:35.366. Unlike the previous weekend at the Roar, two of the three sessions Thursday were filled with red flags. Within the first ten minutes of the first session, the Kelly Moss with Riley Porsche 911 GT3 R stopped on the apron of the Daytona banking. Car to car incidents, debris and car stoppages halted the session three more times before the final incident occurred near the end of the session.

The Winward Racing’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Lucas Auer suffered major damage after Auer dipped the car into the grass on the exit of turn one. The car then abruptly turned left, head on into the inside wall. The incident occurred just after Auer had set the fastest time in the GTD class. Auer was transported to a local hospital after the incident. It is understood that Auer was cut out of his Mercedes to allow medical personnel to remove him from the car. Thursday evening, it was announced that Auer suffered significant back injuries from the crash. Due to those injuries, Auer will not race in the Rolex 24 with a replacement driver to be announced soon. Winward Racing is working to transport their car from last season to the track from their shop in Texas. The car, once ready, will start 61st.

Image - Adam Prescott - Prescott Motorsport

Two GTP cars were limited during the morning session by mechanical issues. The No. 7 Penske Racing Porsche 963 only completed only six laps while with brake issues hampering their on track session. A spark plug change resulted in limited track time for the No. 25 BMW M Hybrid V8 as well.

Richard Westbrook's Chip Ganassi racing Cadillac V-LMDh ran the fastest time during the second practice session. Westbrook's time of 1:35.185 was a solid two tenths quicker than Filipe Albequerque's fastest during the morning session. The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura wound up second on the charts with Louis Deletraz behind the wheel. Renger van der Zande led the sister Chip Ganassi racing Cadillac to third on the charts, followed by the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac in fourth.

In a mirror image of the morning session, the second session was full of incidents. Till Bechtolsheimer, driving the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Duqueine D08 Nissan, stopped on the infield section of the course bringing out the first red flag. The second was brought out by Francesco Pizzi in the No. 55 Proton Competition Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 as he made contact with the wall exiting the Le Mans chicane. LMP3 cars brought out the third and fourth red flags with the No. 13 and No. 36 both suffering mechanical issues that brought out red flags.

Image - Adam Prescott - Prescott Motorsport

Of the 61 cars entered, 60 completed laps on track during the session with the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes missing the session due to their major incident in the morning session.

Under the lights, practice three saw the third different GTP car top the charts as Porsche Penske Racing's Matt Campbell posted the top time of 1:35:802. The lap was seven tenths slower than the fastest GTP lap set on the day by Richard Westbrook during the second session. Filipe Albequerque again made his way to the top of the charts, finishing the session second with a time of 1:35:974.

Alex Lynn's No. 02 Cadillac wound up third in the session, followed by the sister Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac driven by Sebastien Bourdais. This was the first night practice run under dry conditions during the lead up to the Rolex 24, as last weekends Roar night session was contested under wet conditions. With the weather cooperating, however, lap times were nearly a second slower than times run during the daytime hours.

Image - Adam Prescott - Prescott Motorsport

The IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship takes to the track for one final session at 11:20am Friday morning. The final hour-long practice session will be the final laps taken by the LMP2, LMP3, GTD-Pro and GTD classes before the green flag Sunday. The GTP class will have one final practice session from 6:25 to 6:45pm Friday evening.

Article by Matt Boyce

Images by Adam Prescott


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