Meyer Shank Racing continued to look formidable in its Rolex 24 at Daytona title defense, pacing the first two practice sessions Saturday on the second day of the Roar test session at Daytona International Speedway.
After Helio Castroneves turned the fastest lap Friday, teammate Colin Braun set a new quickest lap for the Roar with a 1-minute, 35.038-second lap around the 3.56-mile road course.
Leading the nine cars in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category, the No. 60 Acura ARX-06 has turned the fastest lap in each of the first four practices at Daytona in the warmup for the 24-hour endurance race classic Jan. 28-29 that will open the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
For the second consecutive day, Acuras were at the top of the speed chart in the premier prototype class that now features hybrid engines. Brendon Hartley of Wayne Taylor Racing was second behind Braun in the afternoon session.
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“Obviously, really proud of the team,” Braun told the IMSA Wire Service. “I know everyone says that, but more than ever in this era of GTP cars, it’s such a big effort by the Meyer Shank team and the HPD (Honda Performance Development) and Acura guys – a lot of work in the offseason. It’s been leaps and bounds better, better and better.
“Really pretty darn happy with the car right now. We have good speed and we’re just working through our program and just trying to continue to check boxes as we close down on the amount of time we have to get ready for the big race.’’
In the Saturday morning session, MSR’s Tom Blomqvist was fastest, followed by WTR’s Louis Delatraz.
A final practice was under way Saturday night ahead of Sunday’s qualifying session for the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona. But the night session got off to a slow start with a red flag for rain after 15 minutes.
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BMW M Team RLL’s pair of BMW M Hybrid V8s were the next two cars on the speed chart as the GTP class was more than 2 seconds faster than the LMP2 cars.
Though Acura was unable to do any enudrance-length testing ahead of Daytona, Braun said its development of the new LMDh cars as been a pleasant surprise
“I don’t think we expected that, given where everyone’s at and all the different programs OEMs have been on to get to this point,” he said. “I think we really were unsure where everything would shake out, so we’re super pleased with it. If we’re going to have (practice) sessions, you might as well be the fastest one.’’
Top speeds in other categories:
LMP2: Ben Hanley, No. 04 Crowdstrike Racing by APR, ORECA LMP2 07, 1:38.633
LMP3: Dakota Dickerson, No. 36 Andretti Autosport, Ligier JS P320, 1:42.653
GTD Pro: Ben Barnicoat, No. 14 Vasser Sullivan, Lexus RC F GT3, 1:47.040 (Friday)
GTD: Frederik Schandorff, No. 70 Inception Racing, McLaren 720S GT3, 1:46.842