Article: Kevin Sims ~ Photos: Randy Stevens
Daytona International Speedway – January 6, 2019 – The 50th season of IMSA sports car racing action started with the 2019 Roar before the 24 testing event hosting a field of 47 cars in 4 classes and with 11 cars representing the DPi class. As shown by the testing results, 2019 DPi competition will be fearsome as, on average, the top 6 cars were within a second of each other’s lap times the whole event.
The #77 Mazda Team Joest RT24-P, driven by driving ace Oliver Jarvis, achieved the fastest time of the 3 days with a stop-watch imploding 1 minute 33.398 seconds at 137.212 MPH in the class’s pit stall determining qualifying session. The next quickest time posted was also a Mazda Team Joest RT24-P, but with the team’s #55 land missile piloted by Harry Tincknell. Its lap took some 0.025 seconds longer at a mere 0.155 slower MPH. With such a razor thin margin like this, the Rolex 24 is sure to be a bloody fist fight the whole 24 hours.
The Mazda RT24-P continued its clock domination with a third best lap time recorded at 1 minute 34.553 seconds in the #55 machine handled by Jonathan Bomarito. Luckily, the field hosted other fast Dpi machines as the #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac Dpi-V.R. blitzed a smokin’ 1 minute 34.534 second time at 135.563 MPH.
“It’s been interesting testing, ticking all the boxes. All the drivers had some quality time in the car. My personal thing was to get used to the Michelin tires and I think they are very easy to adjust to. I am happy to see the average pace between all of our drivers,” explained Renger Van Der Zande, driver of #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. “Also, a very important thing is to get the driver changes in place. There’s still some fine-tuning to do there, same with the setup and in some other areas. I think if we leave the Roar with some fine-turning items to go through, then we can consider it a very good test and I think that’s the case.”
Fellow #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R driver, Fernando Alonso, was making his first public racing appearance since retiring from Formula One last year. With a 2018 24 Hours of LeMans victory added to his resume, he is eager to add a 2019 Rolex 24 winning watch to his long collection of racing trophies.
“Everything went fine, quite a smooth weekend of testing. Getting used to the car, it was the first time for me with the Cadillac and with the team. I got seat-fitted into the car, I went through all the philosophy that the Konica Minolta Cadillac team has and it was quite smooth,” explained Fernando Alonso. “Great team, great people, and I felt quite happy in the car and with the balance of the car right from the beginning. I knew the track from last year, so I had that advantage. It was just full concentration on how the team works and how the team wanted to get through the test. I think we made some improvements in the car. We learned a couple of things that we can put in place for the Rolex 24. We have a strong team – all the drivers have enough experience and enough speed, hopefully, to run consistently fast. It’s a very long race and everything has to go your way. A lot of different factors determine who wins these long races. On our side, we just have to keep the concentration high, execute the race the best we can, and help the team with our feedback and with our care for the car over the 24 hours.” - AA