Wayne Taylor Racing Is Fastest In Day 2 At ‘The Roar’

Jordan Taylor's No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP set the fastest time of the day for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in the morning session. The Wayne Taylor Racing driver, who is joined by Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli in the car, posted a time of 1:39.181.

AJ Allmendinger put the Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Ligier JS P2 atop the board in the second session of the day at 1:39.418. He is joined by John Pew, Ozz Negri and Matt McMurry on the team.

Defending Rolex 24 winner Action Express Racing led its first session of the three-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 test Saturday, pacing the day's third session with a lap of 1:39.933 seconds with Christian Fittipaldi behind the wheel of the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP. Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais round out the team.

Other class leaders were Colin Braun in Prototype Challenge (PC), running 1:41.769 (125.932 mph) in the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09; Earl Bamber in GT Le Mans (GTLM), 1:44.316 (122.857 mph) in the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR; and Marc Goossens in GT Daytona (GTD) at 1:47.373 (119.360 mph) in the No. 33 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R.

Byron DeFoor escaped injury when he flipped the No. 50 Fifty Plus Racing Endures for a Cure Dinan/Riley after encountering a mechanical problem entering Turn 1 in the morning session. Other drivers evaluated and released from the infield care center after on-track incidents were Francois Perrodo, driver of the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia and Jerome Mee, driver of the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09.

An afternoon incident involving Memo Rojas in the DeltaWing DWC-13 also forced the team back to its Braselton, Georgia race shop. The team decided the damage was too significant to repair at the track.

Michael Shank Racing Adjusts To New Ligier

The journey to the Roar Before the Rolex 24 is an annual tradition for many teams and competitors. In 2015, Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian continues that tradition, albeit with one noticeable difference.

For the first time in more than a decade of entries into the Roar and Rolex 24, Michael Shank Racing did not roll a Daytona Prototype off its transporter. Instead, the team's new Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 made its public debut. For team owner Michael Shank, the change stirs up a mix of feelings.

"The DP is what established our team early on, to allow, at the time, smaller teams to come on and be competitive, and to that we'll always owe GRAND-AM and the France family for that kind of vision,"� Shank said. "Going forward, though, my belief was that we needed to make a change, where I think the world is heading, and our group."

Shank and his group of drivers, John Pew, Matt McMurry, AJ Allmendinger, and Ozz Negri all are looking forward to entering the new Ligier in the Prototype class at the Rolex 24. The squad already has proven the value of the chassis at the Roar, where NASCAR regular Allmendinger set the quickest lap of the fourth TUDOR Championship practice session.

There are other plans for the Ligier as well. "We want to go to Le Mans. If we can work it out, we are definitely going to Le Mans, and we can check that off of our list,"� added Shank. "I don't think it will be this year, it will be something we shoot for in '16 in a perfect world. Everybody wants to do it."�

Michael Shank Racing may get its shot by way of IMSA's Jim Trueman Award, which could provide Pew with an automatic invitation to the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans if he ends the 2015 season as the top-finishing independent driver.

Mazda Continues To Gain Speed

Mazda Motorsports always has differed from the rest of the Prototype field, competing not only against the other entrants, but against themselves as well. The diesel engines that power the team's two experimental prototypes are essentially lightly modified versions of the assembly line examples that are found in Mazda's street cars.

Mazda made it through the entire 2014 season, but struggled with reliability all year long. Due to their radical strategy, the team knew coming in that they would face challenges. Even so, the struggles took a toll on morale.

For John Doonan, Director of Motorsports for Mazda North America, competing in the TUDOR Championship has become more than just racing.

""In short, what we're doing is telling a story,"� Doonan said. ""If you roll the story back to chapter one, which was one year ago, on this particular weekend, there weren't very many smiling faces around this program."�

After the first few practice sessions of 2015, however, it was evident to Doonan that the story was changing.

""Yesterday, as I sat on the west coast in meetings, trying to watch live timing when I could, words like "˜remarkable', words like "˜miracle' came to mind,"� he said. ""Looking in the eyes of our crew members and seeing what they've done to bring us to where we are today. We're talking about 20 mph straight line gains, we're talking about six to seven seconds of lap time at this particular track which isn't particularly a place that allows us to show the strength of this engine in a straight line."�

Every race team strives to be competitive, and while it is still a few seconds off the pace of the leaders at Daytona International Speedway, the Mazda team has progressed significantly from last year.

Mustangs Pace Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Sessions

Jim Click Racing and Multimatic Motorsports put their respective Mustang Boss 302R cars atop the charts in a pair of Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge practice sessions for the Grand Sport (GS) class.

Mike McGovern put the Jim Click Racing entry on top in the morning session with a best time of 1:56.810, narrowly better than Multimatic Motorsports' Billy Johnson. He posted a time of 1:56.885 in the first practice.

In the afternoon session, the drivers traded spots atop the standings, as Johnson led with a time of 1:56.513. His co-driver is Scott Maxwell. McGovern was second at 1:56.808.

The Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman led both sessions for the Street Tuner (ST) class. Eric Foss piloted the car in the morning with a time of 2:05.278, while Justin Piscitell drove a 2:05.416 in the afternoon. Jeff Mosing is the third driver on that team.

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