While rain slowed the second day of Rolex 24 at Daytona testing at Daytona International Speedway, Rolex Sports Car Series teams still got plenty of track time as they prepared for the grueling twice-around-the-clock challenge on Jan. 26-27.
Max Angelelli gave his team a pat on the back by turning the test's fastest lap in the closing minutes of the session.
“This was good for the guys,” Angelelli said after running an unofficial lap of 1:41.118 in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP he shares with new co-driver Jordan Taylor. “This is also good for our partners and sponsors. Now we want to maintain this pace, this status. We do not want other people going faster.”
Other teams played cat and mouse throughout a day that began with morning showers before the track dried completely in mid-afternoon. Alex Gurney was second fastest in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette DP co-driven by Jon Fogarty, Memo Gidley and Darren Law, 1:41.963.
Tuesday's fastest team, Action Express Racing, led much of the day on Wednesday as Christian Fittipaldi ran a lap of 1:42.092 in the No. 9 Corvette DP co-driven by Joao Barbosa and brothers Burt and Brian Frisselle. Action Express topped the charts in four of the six sessions over the two days, but the team was confident it would go faster in Grand-Am's next official test, Daytona's Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Jan. 4-6.
“Our pace is confidence-inspiring,” Burt Frisselle said. “But what we learned last year is that no one puts their card on the table until qualifying for the Rolex 24 – and no one shows their whole hand until the actual race. So we don't know how we really stand in relation to the other teams. We're just working to make our package the best we can for the race.”
Jacksonville, Fla.-based Brumos Racing led the GT class as Andrew Davis ran a lap of 1:49.943 in the No. 59 Porsche GT3 co-driven by Leh Keen. He was followed by Frank Biela in the No. 52 Audi of America Audi R8, 1:49.943 and Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 23 WeatherTech Porsche GT3, 1:50.063.
Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge winner gets started:
Italy's Ivan Bellarosa, the Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge winner, took his first laps around Daytona International Speedway's road course during this week's test session. Bellarosa, a competitor in the SPEED EuroSeries, won the Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge this year and has secured a coveted driver's seat with a to-be-determined Daytona Prototype team in the 51st anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge is a competition between racers in selected Sunoco-fueled championships in Europe. The driver who accumulates the most points wins a fully funded race seat in a Daytona Prototype in the Rolex 24. During the test, Bellarosa shared driving duties on the No. 58 Action Express Racing Porsche Riley with fellow countryman and 2002 Rolex 24 champion Max Papis.
“He came here with an open mind,” Papis said of Bellarosa's test session. “He did exactly what we asked and got better and better until he set his fastest lap with about a half a hour to go (on the first day).
“He focused on working with the engineers, driving the car, finding a driving style that will suit the car and learning about traffic. So far, he would be ready to race the Rolex 24 tomorrow morning in terms of speed but we still need to work a little bit on what it's going to take to be prepared with 40 other GT cars. I don't see that being a problem. So far, he proved why he won the Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge.”
The next Grand-Am open test session for the 51st anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona will be the Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Jan. 4-6.