Cadillac V-Performance Racing teams Konica Minolta Cadillac, Mustang Sampling Cadillac, Whelen Engineering Cadillac, and Spirit of Daytona Cadillac completed a successful three-day Roar Before the 24 test at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the IMSA WeatherTech Championship Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona to run January 27-28.
All four Cadillac teams ran consistently at the top of the time sheet all three days. None of the teams reported any problems with the cars and the reliability of the Cadillac V-8 engine made it possible for the teams to cycle their drivers through to get maximum laps in this important test weekend leading to the biggest race on the IMSA WeatherTech Championship schedule.
In a new twist for 2018, IMSA imposed a first-ever qualifying session at the Roar test that would determine where the team's line-up on pit road and in the garage area for the Rolex 24. When the session was complete Sunday afternoon the Cadillac DPi-V.R foursome were one-two-three and four with the No.31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R winning the day.
Felipe Nasr posted the fast time of the weekend in the red Whelen Cadillac in the 15-minute qualifying session with a run of 1:35.806. Joining Nasr for the 24 is joined by Eric Curran, Stuart Middleton and Mike Conway in the No.31.
"I wanted to be back here in IMSA and finally I am here," Nasr said. "The team is really focused on the race. We all feel very confident in the car. Today in the qualifying session, we gave everything we had and finished first. The cars at the front are very close in time. I am pretty happy with the way the Cadillac is performing. When I ran here in 2012 it was one of the best experiences of my career. The IMSA championship is growing. There is such a strong field here, it is great for a racing driver to be competing at Daytona. I got a third place here, and now I want to go for the win."
Tristan Vautier, No.90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac DPi-V.R, ran a time of 1:36.037 good for second in Sunday's qualifier. Matt McMurry and Eddie Cheever III are co-driving the 90 with Vautier.
"Our pace was good," Vautier said. "I think it is a strong statement by the team how good we have run. Receiving the car in December, getting it on the ground about a week ago and to come here and show how strong we are is great. We took this as a good practice for the Rolex 24. I gave it all I had. Everyone in the Cadillac camp pushed hard. The team has really been hustling for two months. We have some time to get ready for the race now."
Filipe Albuquerque had the wheel of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R, he was able to put up a time of 1:1:36.135 that placed him third. Albuquerque is joined by Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi in the 5 car.
"It was fantastic," Albuquerque said. "I just missed the peak of the Continental tire. We get the first pits with our two cars, so let's see how it goes with the race. All of the drivers put in a lot of laps and we will go into the 24-hour race with a lot of confidence in our Mustang Sampling Cadillac."
The No.10 Konica Minolta Cadillac team put a full season of racing and winning back on the track to start the quest for another winning season. In the qualifier Renger Van Der Zande posted a lap of 1:36.481 good for fourth. Last year's IMSA prototype champion Jordan Taylor leads the team with IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay onboard as the third driver.
"Obviously, we're coming back for a second year with our car," Taylor said. "As a team, we've been racing here for 10-15 years, so we have a lot of experience here at Daytona and with this package, so we expected to come on strong. As the testing has gone on - we started at the front, and everyone is kind of working their way up towards where we are. Our increments of improvement are very small, because we have our car pretty well sorted, and everyone else is taking big chunks. I think by the end of tomorrow, it's going to be a pretty tight field. I think it's cool to see all the European guys, the European teams and drivers, adapting to what we're used to and they're adapting quickly. I think it's going to be a good race at the end of the month.
"It's hard to tell what everyone is doing pace-wise. I think for us, we're just focusing on our own program. We can trust in our drivers and our engineers and team and understand that we think we have a good car. From a driver point of view, it's comfortable to drive. We've improved the car from last year from a drivability point of view, so for us, we feel comfortable and we'll just have to wait and see what everyone else can bring to the race weekend."
The teams will return to Daytona for the 56th running of the Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona race weekend Jan. 25-28.
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