Winkelhock Leads GTD In Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Corvette Racing posted the two quickest times in Sunday’s third and final day of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Roar Before The Rolex 24, with the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R driven by Oliver Gavin leading the way at 1:45.915 (121.003 mph).
However, the final practice session was indicative of the variety of the factory-backed competition in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. An SRT Viper GTS-R led the session, followed by a Porsche 911 RSR and a Corvette C7.R – with an Aston Martin Vantage not far behind.
Jonathan Bomarito led the class with a lap of 1:46.496 (120.343 mph) in the No. 93 Pennzoil Ultra entry from SRT Motorsports. Patrick Long was second quickest in the No. 912 Porsche North America machine at 1:46.779 (120.024 mph), followed by Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R, 1:46.783 (120.019 mph).
“Corvette has been setting the bar the last few seasons, and SRT has progressed faster than many people expected. We’re not sure where the Porsche is going to fit in. Fortunately, Daytona is usually very good for the Porsches. We’re cautious, because this team is so new. We’ll race the race and hope we’re still there with two hours to go, and then race who’s left.”
At the end of the three-day test, Porsche came out on top, with Nick Tandy running 1:45.564 (121.405 mph) in the No. 911 Porsche North America 911 RSR, followed by the No. 4 Corvette C7.R of Oliver Gavin, 1:45.743 (121.200 mph), and Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette, 1:45.792 (121.143 mph). The top seven cars in the class were separated by less than six-tenths of a second.
The TUDOR Championship’s GTLM class also includes the Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 Italia and a pair of BMW Z4 GTEs from BMW Team RLL.
The GT Daytona (GTD) class was paced on Sunday by Markus Winkelhock, who turned in a best time of 1:48.462 (118.161 mph) in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsport Audi R8 LMS. It was the third session of the test to be led by the No. 45 machine, as Winkelhock’s co-drivers, Spencer Pumpelly and Nelson Canache Jr. both led earlier in the weekend.
Porsche led the final session of the GTD test, with Alex Riberas running 1:48.846 (117.744 mph) in the No. 23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing 911 GT America co-driven by Ian James and Mario Farnbacher.
Audi was fastest of the 28 cars participating in the class throughout the Roar, with Pumpelly running 1:47.981 in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS in the Friday afternoon session.
“This class is going to be very competitive, no question about it,” Pumpelly said. “Each car has its own strengths and weaknesses. I think Audi’s strong point is braking and the torque off the slower corners. We learned a lot at this test, and we’re close to our race setup. The Rolex 24 includes a lot of factors that are out of your control, so it’s important to have a good car and a good team that can deal with the variables that creep up during the Rolex 24.”
One of the teams transitioning into GTD is Level 5 Motorsports, moving from three consecutive prototype titles in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón to the production-based class in the TUDOR Championship.
“We’ve had a lot to learn, and we had a very productive test,” said Jeff Segal, a two-time GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT champion who will drive with Level 5 Motorsports in a Ferrari 458 Italia. “The car has been really well sorted out after running for the past two seasons of development.
“Our challenge is taking a team that has been racing a prototype to work with a GT car and put together a lot of new faces. Now we’ve got a laundry list of things to do before the race, but I think we’re in good shape. You can tell this team is used to winning championship. They’ve been up to the challenge at every step.”