Angelelli, Long Lead First Day Of Practice At Daytona
Saturday practice, which also features the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Course, runs from 9 a.m. - 8 p.m., with Sunday activities running from 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Both days are open to the public as the teams prepare for the 48th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, set for Jan. 30-31.
Angelelli led the Daytona Prototypes with a lap of 1:40.466 (127.566 mph) late in the morning session in the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara. Teammates Wayne and Ricky Taylor and Pedro Lamy took turns atop the afternoon session, which was run in drizzly conditions that resulted in slower times.
However, the GT class turned in its fastest speeds in the afternoon. Long closed out the day with a lap of 1:49.961 (116.550 mph) in the No. 67 TRG/Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche GT3 co-driven by Jorg Bergmeister, Seth Neiman and Johannes van Overbeek.
The GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge also participated Friday with a pair of hour-long practice sessions. Matt Plumb led a BMW sweep of the top five in the Grand Sport (GS) class as three different teams laid down times in the 120-second range - 2:00.073 (106.735 mph) the fastest for Plumb - with their BMW M3s. In Street Tuner (ST), Seth Thomas in a BimmerWorld BMW 328i was fastest, his first session time outlasting a trio of Honda Civic Sis from defending team champion Compass360 Racing by more than three tenths of a second.
Scott Dixon was second overall in the two Daytona Prototype practices with a lap of 1:40.588 (127.411 mph) in the No. 02 Target/TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley co-driven by Dario Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray. He was followed by Michael Valiante in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley, 1:40.963 (126.938 mph), Scott Pruett in the No. 01 TELMEX/Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley, 1:40.986 (126.909 mph) and Christophe Bouchut in the No. 55 Level 5 Motorsports BMW Riley, 1:41.121 (126.739 mph).
"I am very happy with today," Angelelli said. "All the drivers were very good, we are very happy with the car, and it is driving really well. At the moment we are just running laps. We are all right there. We are looking forward to the race. I feel all we need right now is to wash it and we can go racing."
Alex Gurney was fastest in the afternoon session with a lap of 1:41.761 (125.942 mph) in the No. 99 GAINSCO Chevrolet Riley co-driven by Jon Fogarty and Jimmy Johnson. Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will join the trio for the race.
"We had a different program today, getting a bunch of things done for the Rolex 24," Gurney said. "We ran our race engine, we bedded in a bunch of brakes. The car has a good balance. We ran a lot of laps under damp conditions, and it felt nice. We have no idea of how we are, speed-wise, but so far it looks okay."
Martin Ragginger was second among the two GT practices with an afternoon lap of 1:40.216 (116.261 mph) in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3, followed by Andy Lally in the No. 66 TRG Porsche, 1:50.276 (116.217 mph), and Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 71 TRG Porsche, 1:50.636 (115.839 mph).
Pacing the GT class Friday morning was Sylvain Tremblay in the No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 with a lap of 1:50.222 (116.274 mph), followed by teammate Anthony Lazzaro in the No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8, 1:50.657 (115.817 mph).
"Today was the first time our No. 70 car ever turned a wheel, and the No. 69 is also brand new, so today was a testament to the hard work done by all of the guys at SpeedSource and the support of Mazdaspeed and Castrol," said Tremblay, GT winner of the 2008 Rolex 24.
"To unload brand new and to be 1-2 in the opening session, and have our partner Dempsey Racing also fast, demonstrates the effort we've made to win this race - again."
In other news Friday, British Radical champion Derek Johnston announced he will be racing with Doran Racing in the Rolex 24 as his prize for winning the inaugural Rolex 24 Driver Challenge presented by Sunoco. Johnston outpointed drivers in three other British series to win the coveted prize, a funded seat in the Rolex 24. He will co-drive the No. 77 Ford Dallara with Memo Gidley and Fabrizio Gollin.
The only major incident in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge practice occurred with five minutes remaining the final session. Bill Heumann, Thomas' teammate, spun and hit the pit exit wall, damaging the BMW 328i and causing an end to practice. Heumann was taken to the infield care center where he was treated and released.
Matt Plumb and Gianluis Bacardi drove the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing BMW M3 to the top of the charts in the second session to hold off Terry Borcheller and Andrew Hendricks in the No. 45 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 by only 0.076 seconds, as Borcheller turned in a time of 2:00.149 (106.668 mph). Bill Auberlen - the defending winner of the Fresh From Florida 200 in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 - was fastest in the morning session and third overall, sharing the car with Paul Dalla Lana and setting a time of 2:00.531 (106.329 mph).
Rounding out the top five in GS were Charles Espenlaub and Charles Putman in the No. 48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 and Joey Hand and Michael Marsal in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW M3.
Despite the late-day incident, Thomas and Heumann were impressive with their BMW 328i, which beat out three Compass360 machines, and was the only pair of drivers in the top 10 to turn their fastest time in the morning. The quickest of the three was the No. 76 Honda Civic Si, which featured Gregory Lefiooghe, Jesse Combs and Michael Duncalfe - all of whom have never started a series race. The trio's time of 2:10.934 (97.881 mph) was the fastest of the afternoon, beating out the No. 77 Honda Civic Si of Lawson Aschenbach, Zach Lutz and Carlos Tesler-Mabe (2:11.113; 97.702 mph). Fourth were No. 75 Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si co-drivers Lutz and Ryan Eversley, with James Clay and David White fifth in the No. 80 BMW 328i, completing BimmerWorld's bookending of the top five.
A total of 54 cars - 36 from GS and 18 in ST - participated in the two Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge practice sessions.
The weather did not have a major impact on the day-long session, despite being less than ideal for competitors. They began the day under partly sunny skies, albeit with temperatures in the mid 40s, and later ran in a light drizzle, the temperature making it to a high of only 53 degrees, 17 degrees lower than the average for this time of the year.
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