Corvette Racing has kicked off the 2016 racing season with a return to the high banks of the Daytona International Speedway for the twice around the clock Rolex 24. They come in as defending class champions in the hotly contested GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. The Corvette C7.R’s will be facing brand new machinery from Ferrari, BMW, and Ford with their new GT.
All the teams were present at the Roar Before the 24 in early January, and early indications showed all cars in the class to be very evenly matched up. While this allows teams to get track time and times are generated, it is usually a given that most teams resort to sandbagging, and not really showing their hand at these pre-season tests. The sanctioning body (IMSA) uses these tests to develop a Balance of Performance (BoP) in order to level the playing field. IMSA is also sharing their BoP information with the ACO so that they can establish a BoP for the 24 Hours of LeMans in June. While IMSA does its best to get it right, teams equally play their part by not showing everything they have. This is a given going into the first race of the year.
With everything in place, the cars took to the track on Thursday prior to the race for their first test session. The weather played a decisive role all day with teams only having two test sessions before qualifying. The expectation was for a zero chance of rain on race day, so anyone looking to place their car on pole, did so at the risk of potentially stuffing it into a tire barrier, or wall. The C7.R’s and Corvette Daytona Prototypes (DP) made it through a treacherous qualifying session unscathed. Rain pelted the track for most of the day with the worst of it falling during time trials.
Both C7.R’s will start from the fourth row in-class. Oliver Gavin in the No. 4 car set a best lap of 2:03.974 (103.377 mph), while Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 had a best lap of 2:05.979 (101.731 mph). The Corvette DP ranks, Ricky Taylor was the fastest with a lap of 2:07.966 (100.152 mph) in Wayne Taylor Racing's No. 10 car. The Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP will start fourth in Prototype. Dane Cameron in Action Express Racing's No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP was the next-fastest with a lap of 2:10.016 (98.572 mph). Ryan Dalziel qualified the Visit Florida Racing No. 90 with a 2:10.610 (98.124 mph). The No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP was next in the Corvette DP lineup with Joao Barbosa's lap of 2:15.707 (94.439 mph). There was a night practice session under heavy rain conditions that most teams opted to not participate in.
With only a one-hour session on Friday, this was the last opportunity to run the cars in race-like weather conditions. With clear skies, the speeds increased and the lap times dropped.
TV coverage begins at 2 p.m. (ET), and Vette will have wrap-up coverage right here on SuperChevy.com following the race. We’ll have more coverage from the race this weekend, so stay tuned.