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Mazda Roared Like Crazy Down in Daytona

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, January 6 2019
Mazda DPi cars ruled the weekend in the Daytona infield.


After three days of the Roar Before the Rolex 24, it was the Mazda DPi entries that roared the loudest

Mazdas logged the fastest times in four of the seven practices at the Roar, which is held on the infield road course at Daytona International Speedway and serves as an open test for teams and drivers who will be competing in the Rolex 24 at the end of the month.

In addition, Mazda went 1-2 in a special qualifying session held to determine pit stall selection for the Rolex 24.

In the 15-minute IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi qualifying session, Oliver Jarvis drove the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest Mazda RT24-P to a lap of one minute, 33.398 seconds (137.212 mph).

Jarvis’ lap was more than half a second quicker than the 26-year-old track record of 1:33.875 (136.521 mph) set by PJ Jones in the No. 98 Toyota Eagle MKIII. If he – or anybody else – does it again or goes even quicker in Rolex 24 qualifying on Thursday, Jan. 24, they’ll go into the record books officially.

“The car was an absolute joy to drive,” Jarvis said. “We ran it full qualy spec. I don’t think many of our competitors can say the same, but in that low-fuel configuration, it felt incredible. You could really push the car to the limits and it’s what us drivers live for, that feeling of getting everything out of the car.”

In Sunday’s sixth and final practices, Britain’s Harry Tincknell posted the fastest practice lap of the Roar.

Tincknell laid down a lap clocked at 1 minute, 34.224 seconds (136.009 mph) on the 3.56-mile road course in the sixth practice, in the No. 55 of Mazda Team Joest.

The fastest time from a Cadillac in DPi was delivered by Eric Curran in Action Express Racing’s No. 31 car.

Jordan Taylor drove the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac into fifth, while Romain Dumas was sixth in the Nissan, now run by CORE autosport, 0.7sec off top time.

 “I think it’s hard to tell pace-wise where we are but,” Taylor said. “I think from a car point of view, we made a lot of progress with some changes. It’s also good to get Alonso and Kobayashi through the car to get them comfortable driving-wise and seat-wise and ergonomics. That’s really what this test is all about, getting everyone comfortable, getting driver-change practice done, solid routines that they’re not used to that we do, pit-stop procedures. I think we got a big head start for the race. By the time we get back here, it’ll be just a matter of some fine-tuning. We knew those guys would fit in really well.

“It’s just about understanding driving-style differences, whether they like the same kind of car we like, same setup, if they need big inserts or what they like with seat belts. But they fit in super well and they bring a ton of experience, so it’s been interesting to hear their feedback and their direction forth. They have so much experience, new ideas that maybe we don’t think about setup-wise and driving-style-wise. I don’t think you ever stop learning and these are two guys we can learn a lot from.”

Juan Pablo Montoya and Ricky Taylor were seventh and eighth in the two Acura Team Penske ARX-05s, both of them also within eight tenths of the top time.

“There are a lot of quick cars out there, but we definitely had a great qualifying car,” Taylor said. “It was a great opportunity to get a qualifying ‘sim’ [simulation] in before the actual race weekend, where you get only one ‘go’ at it. So, it’s great to get another opportunity here and to show some pace. I think we’ve got a pretty good race car, too, so we’re all looking forward to coming back here in a couple of weeks.”

·  In GT Le Mans, the No. 3 Corvette Racing entry with Jan Magnussen at the wheel.

“We did exactly the same as we did last year where we agreed who was going to tow who,” Magnussen said. “It was me again like in race qualifying last year. That gave us a good top-speed advantage in that session. Olly (Gavin) did a fantastic job placing himself at the right distance out of Turn 6 [in the No. 4 Corvette] so I could take full advantage of the tow down to the Bus Stop and then go by him at start/finish to get the fastest lap.

“We did the exact same thing at the Roar and the race last year, so I don’t really know why everyone else isn’t doing the exact same thing. But it seems we’re the only one doing it at the moment, and it’s working out really well for us.”

· In LMP2, the No. 52 Oreca LMP2 with Gabriel Aubry driving. The Roar was Aubry’s first exposure to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway and this weekend was just the Frenchman’s second visit to the United States.

Once again, NASCAR drivers have driven their ways onto IMSA WeatherTech Series rosters for the 24..

Two drivers familiar to NASCAR fans are driving in the GT Daytona class. One is AJ Allmendinger, who co-drove to the 2012 overall Rolex 24 championship with Michael Shank Racing. Allmendinger is making his 12th appearance in the Rolex 24, this time in the Shank-owned No. 86 Acura NSX GT3.

“I’ll probably never do it without Michael Shank [involved],” said Allmendinger, who has made 371 starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. “He’s like a big brother to me. He’s one of my best friends and doing it with him and his race team is what makes this race special to me.”

Also in GT Daytona, full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Austin Cindric is co-driving the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3. Cindric is making his third appearance in the Rolex 24; his best result was last year’s sixth (overall) with JDC-Miller Motorsports.

Several other NASCAR drivers are crossing over for the Rolex 24 weekend, racing in the production car-based IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, which will open the season at DIS with the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge on Jan. 25.

For the second straight year, Cole Custer will team up with former NASCAR Xfinity Series Roush Fenway Racing driver Ty Majeski and sports car veteran Scott Maxwell in the No. 15 Ford Mustang GT4 for Multimatic Motorsports; in 2018 the trio finished on the podium with a third-place run.

“We’re trying to get the basics down for road course racing” said Custer, who wheeled the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford to a second-place finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship standings last year. “These cars are definitely a lot different but you still get the same characteristics, like braking and doing left and right turns.”

In addition, Cindric and fellow NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Chase Briscoe will join veteran road racer Billy Johnson in Multimatic’s second Ford Mustang GT4.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, January 6 2019
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