Jarvis and Mazda set Day­tona pace

Autosport (UK) - - CONTENTS -

DAY­TONA 24 HOURS

While the driver spot­lights at the Day­tona 24 Hours test last week­end in­evitably fell on Fer­nando Alonso – com­pet­ing in Wayne Tay­lor Rac­ing’s Cadil­lac DPI-V.R pro­to­type – and Alex Za­nardi, rac­ing a BMW M8 for the Ra­hal Let­ter­man Lani­gan Rac­ing team in GT Le Mans, it was Mazda Team Joest that truly de­served the plau­dits.

Ever since Joest took over run­ning the RT24-PS to­wards the end of the 2017 sea­son, th­ese hand­some DPI cars have looked more con­sis­tent. Only driver er­ror pre­vented a win at La­guna Seca last year; then the pair fin­ished se­cond and third at Petit Le Mans.

Since then, there has been a fur­ther leap in per­for­mance. Last week­end at Day­tona, one or other of the Maz­das led four of the seven prac­tice ses­sions, and when it came to (pre)qual­i­fy­ing to de­cide who gets the best pit­boxes and garages, they were sim­ply un­match­able, with Oliver Jarvis pip­ping Harry Tinck­nell by 0.025 sec­onds in a 1-2.

But the Cadil­lacs re­main fast and re­li­able. WTR won the 2017 race and team owner Wayne Tay­lor has been (pre­dictably) im­pressed with how Toy­ota World En­durance stars Alonso and Ka­mui Kobayashi have in­te­grated and kept pace with his al­ready for­mi­da­ble line-up of son Jor­dan and Renger van der Zande.

The #10 Caddy topped two ses­sions.

Ac­tion Ex­press Rac­ing also had its Cadil­lacs in the mix through­out the three days of test­ing, and has won this race twice in the past five sea­sons, in­clud­ing last year.

CORE Autosport’s Loic Du­val topped the fi­nal ses­sion, de­spite the team still learn­ing the in­tri­ca­cies of the Nis­san DPI pre­vi­ously run by the now-de­funct ESM team. Fel­low LMP2 grad­u­ate Jdc-miller Mo­tor­sports ap­peared to strug­gle more try­ing to find ul­ti­mate pace from its Cadil­lacs.

Mean­while, IMSA new­comer Jun­cos Rac­ing has un­earthed a po­ten­tial sportscar ace in Agustin Canapino. On his first visit to the US, the Ar­gen­tinian 28-year-old – al­ready a su­per­star in his home coun­try for his achieve­ments in Su­per TC2000 – set the quick­est time in the team’s Cadil­lac ahead of its first shot at Pro­to­type glory.

Like all Pro­to­type teams, Acura Team Penske fo­cused on find­ing the best race set-ups for the new Miche­lin tyres (re­plac­ing Con­ti­nen­tal through­out the series), but Ricky Tay­lor pro­duced a stun­ning lap in a qual­i­fy­ing sim on Sun­day to go third fastest.

The GT Le Mans cat­e­gory saw all nine cars cov­ered by around 0.8s in any given ses­sion, but the Ford GTS and Porsche 911 RSRS ap­peared to have a slight edge on ul­ti­mate pace. The Corvette C7.RS, en­ter­ing their sixth sea­son of IMSA com­pe­ti­tion, were also strong and, with the aid of a tow from Corvette Rac­ing team-mate Oliver Gavin, reign­ing cham­pion Jan Mag­nussen set the top time in pre­qual­i­fy­ing.

De­spite his rel­a­tive lack of ex­pe­ri­ence with the BMW M8 and Day­tona, and the car’s hand-op­er­ated brak­ing sys­tem, two-time Indy­car cham­pion and gold medal-win­ning paralympian hero Za­nardi was within 1.0s of his fastest team-mates.

In the four-car LMP2 class, Dragon­speed’s two-car line-up ap­pears ready to bat­tle with PR1 Mathi­asen’s sim­i­lar ORECA, while there are no clear favourites in the GT Day­tona divi­sion. Meyer Shank Rac­ing’s Acura NSXS starred in most ses­sions, with Trent Hind­man set­ting the over­all best time in class. Other note­wor­thy per­for­mances came from the new AIM Vasser-sul­li­van team, which has taken over the run­ning of the Lexus RC Fs in 2019, open-wheel ris­ing star Vic­tor Fran­zoni in Via Italia’s Fer­rari 488, and the Ri­ley Mo­tor­sports Mer­cedes-amg GT3.

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