DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (January 5, 2020) - Practice makes perfect, and with watches and trophies on the line later this month, the wide range of IMSA teams headed to Daytona International Speedway this weekend for the Roar Before the 24 - a three day test in preparation for the Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona. With the dawn of a new season, there were some new looks, new cars and new faces that will target on track success this year as they looked to get a fast start to the 2020 season with the IMSA test.
Several teams have demonstrated the advantages that come with AERO™ Sustainable Paint Technology. The innovative applied materials solution provides an incredible range of color as well as lightweight protective strength that slips through the air with minimal resistance.
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship:
Defending Rolex 24 At Daytona championship squad Team BMW RLL arrived at the 3.56-mile ‘roval’ with its signature red, white and blue livery provided by AERO, as well as red, black and blue liveried No. 24 car.
A slightly altered driver lineup for the two-car BMW RLL Racing squad saw Connor de Phillippe, Bruno Spengler, Philip Eng and Colton Herta combine in the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE while Jesse Krohn, John Edwards, Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert in the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE team car.
The AERO advantage was tested during Sunday’s qualifying session that IMSA uses to determine garage and pit locations for the Rolex 24. The GTLM field put on an outstanding show as the top five were separated by just three-tenths with the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE qualifying fourth in the order. The sister No. 25 Team RLL BMW M8 GTE qualified just two tenths behind in sixth.
Corvette Racing arrived Daytona with an all new car that made its official on track debut for the AERO-liveried new-for-2020 mid-engine Corvette C8.R.
Carrying a new identity with one Corvette C8.R. in the traditional bold yellow and the second in an all-newsilver scheme with yellow highlights, the test at Daytona International marked the North American debut for the car. With the team’s dual lineup, Corvette Racing made the most of the three days, covering 1,213.96 miles through the seven sessions on offer.
The No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette, which was qualified by Oliver Gavin, placed the new machine third in the order while the team’s No. 3 Corvette, qualified seventh.
Also making a return with a signature look is Mazda Motorsports’ “SoulRed” Mazda RT24-P. The No. 77 driven by Johnathan Bomarito, Harry Ticknell, and Ryan Hunter-Reay got off to a fast start, topping the timing sheets during Practice 1 on Friday. The striking AERO livery stayed within the top two of every practice session leading up to qualifying on Sunday, where Bomarito qualified fifth for pit and garage locations for the Rolex 24.
Looking much the same but carrying a new chassis underneath was the No. 63 WeatherTech entry that features full time drivers Cooper MacNeil and Toni Vilander, with the duo being joined in the Scuderia Corsa prepared Ferrari 488 Evo by Jeff Westphal and Alessandro Balzan for the 24.
“The 63 WeatherTech Ferrari Evo is a new car for us,” Westphal said. “There are a lot of changes to this car from the last one, not huge, but they all impact the way the car drives. We are getting closer to that ‘happy place’ that Scuderia Corsa has been able to have over the last couple of years with the Ferrari. It is getting better and better so we are getting closer to the set-up we want to start the 24 with on the car.”
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge:
Also utilizing three full days of on-track testing was the field of 38 Michelin Pilot Challenge cars.
With a whopping 27 GS class cars on the entry list, it was an important weekend for the reigning IMSA champions to start off strong. Jeff Westphal and Tyler McQuarrie returned to the wheel of the No. 38 Carbahn with Peregrine Racing Audi R8.
With it having garnered success in 2019, there was no reason to change the classic green and grey AERO livery for 2020 as the duo look to make a successful defense of their run to the title. The team made significant progress throughout the weekend posting its best time of the weekend during practice five of 1:54.206-seconds.
The teams will look to make the most of the lessons learned at the test over the course of the next two weeks when they make the annual pilgrimage to Daytona to launch the 2020 IMSA season. The start of the 58th running of the Rolex 24 will be broadcast on NBC.
IMSA Prototype Challenge:
It wasn’t just a three days of testing for the field of Prototype Challenge LMP3 machines as the field of 18 drivers kicked off the IMSA season with the first race weekend. Three practice sessions and a qualifying run all led up to the series’ first three hour long race of the season.
K2R Motorsports returned with its Cobalt Blue AERO livery for the No. 11 LMP3 to start the 2020 season off strong. Driven by Thomas Merrill and Spencer Thomas, the No. 11 LMP3 qualified eighth.
Starting the race, Thomas and Merrill split driving duties through treacherous conditions that saw heavy rains blow through the speedway. But without a second thought, it was all about driving a clean race and bringing home a clean car.
After three hours of racing through a range of conditions, the No. 11 AERO painted entry emerged to take the Bronze Cup for the duo with an eighth place overall finish. On to Sebring!