Factory Porsche fastest at ‘Roar 24’ Daytona test
Porsche started its 2015 Tudor United SportsCar Championship where it left off last season by besting the GTLM opposition and topping the timesheets at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test at Daytona International Speedway in Florida.
Earl Bamber, a new addition to the Porsche North America Racing roster, set the fastest lap of the three-day test in Saturday’s fifth session. His lap time of 1m44.316s put the no. 912 Porsche 911 RSR 0.098s ahead of the second-placed Aston Martin.
This was the first time the PNAR outfit hard officially returned to the Florida circuit since the 911 RSR was given a performance break during the 2014 season.
At last year’s pre-Daytona test, Nick Tandy set the fastest GTLM time of 1m45.654s, over 1.3 seconds slower than Bamber’s 2015 time, showing the huge progress made by the US factory outfit over the last 12 months since its formation.
Tandy, a winner at Daytona last year alongside Richard Lietz and Patrick Pilet, wound up third fastest in the GTLM class after lapping the 3.56-mile road course in 1m44.486s in the no. 911 machine he will share with Pilet and LMP1 driver, Marc Lieb.
While the GTLM times were typically close (0.194 seconds separated the top four), Porsche can take heart from the fact that the ‘Roar’ test often acts as an accurate dictator of form come race weekend in two weeks time.
What’s more, while the final two sessions, held on Sunday, were affected by rain, the two works Porsche 911 RSRs proved competitive in the wet conditions, with the no. 912 entry of Bamber, Jörg Bergmeister and Frédéric Makowiecki setting the fastest time in session seven.
Team Falken wound up seventh in the ten-car GTLM field after three days of testing. With the help of factory driver, Patrick Long (who will join the team for Daytona this year) the privateer outfit was only 0.453 seconds down on the fastest factory entry.
The 2015 Tudor United SportsCar season kicks off in earnest in two weeks time with the 24 Hours of Daytona. Qualifying takes place next Thursday, with Porsche starting the defence of their crown in the twice-round-the-clock enduro at 2:30pm local time on Saturday 24 January.
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