Rojas Leads Opening Day of Rolex Practice
The last five minutes of the Thursday afternoon's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 practice session shook up the leaderboard, and as the dust settled all five different engine manufacturers sat in the top-seven slots on the time sheets.
Memo Rojas turned the fastest lap during the last five minutes of the session behind the wheel of the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, turning a lap of 1:12.824 (113.699 mph). Rojas' time was unofficially under the Daytona Prototype track record of 1:13.375, set by co-driver Scott Pruett in 2004.
"We've been working very hard and the team has been doing an awesome job at the shop," Rojas said. "Myself and Scott have been training in the car. We're really excited about this, so it's just the beginning. We're not taking it for granted now - things are working out good for everybody."
Pruett held the top spot of the session for most of the one hour, 45 minutes the Daytona Prototypes were on the racetrack before Rojas took over for him.
David Donohue slipped into the second slot on the time charts on a flying lap of 1:13.350 (112.883 mph) that was actually completed after the checkered flag flew. Donohue's time in the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Riley was not much of a surprise, as Homestead-Miami Speedway has traditionally been a strong race for the Brumos team.
"It's just practice and you never take any awards home for practice; Saturday is another deal," said an obviously pleased-but-tempered Donohue. "We're happy. Everyone here at Brumos is working really hard. It's nice for the No. 58 car to be in the white colors again since Daytona; that was our first time. We're optimistic. It's always been a good track for us. We have to just keep plugging away. I'm sure not everyone is showing their cards."
The No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley of Oswaldo Negri sat third in the time sheets with a lap of 1:13.381 (112.836 mph) at the conclusion of the session after being bumped by Donohue's lap. Negri, the Rolex 24 At Daytona polesitter, was also unofficially the quickest during the Rolex Series test session in February.
Defending Rolex Series co-champion Alex Gurney turned his fast lap of 1:13.453 (112.725 mph) on the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley's 43rd and final lap of the session to climb into fourth place, marking the fourth engine manufacturer in the top-four positions on the time sheets. Marc Goossens in the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley was fifth in a time of 1:13.470 (112.699 mph).
Ryan Dalziel piloted the No. 2 SAMAX Racing Miami Garage/Cigarette Racing BMW Riley to the seventh quickest time in the session, the fifth manufacturer near the top of the time sheets.
Today also marked the official on-track debut of the Dallara and Lola Chassis bodywork. The No. 77 Doran Racing Kodak Ford Dallara, driven by Memo Gidley and Brad Jaeger, set the fastest time of the four machines, 11th quickest overall. The No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola was right behind in 12th, while the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola was 17th. The No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Dallara's times were not recorded due to transponder issues.