of ‘Roar Before the Rolex 24' Testing
1995 overall winner Christophe Bouchut was fastest in the No. 55 LevelFive Motorsports BMW Riley
Christophe Bouchut and Dominik Farnbacher recorded the fastest laps in their respective classes during Sunday's second day of activities of the "Roar Before the Rolex 24" at Daytona International Speedway.
The three-day session has 52 cars entered in preparation for the 47th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona Jan. 24-25, the opening race in the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season.
Bouchut led the Daytona Prototypes with a lap of 1:41.884 (125.790 mph) in the No. 55 Edata Solutions/Supercar Life Racing LevelFive Motorsports BMW Riley co-driven by Scott Tucker and Ed Zabinski, while Farnbacher ran a lap of 1:51.424 (115.020 mph) in the No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3. Both speeds were unofficially better than the existing track records for their classes.
"Having a fast car actually has no affect on how you will do in the race," said Bouchut, the 1995 overall winner of the Rolex 24. "When I won this race, I was 16th on the grid. But, especially for a new time coming to Daytona with a Daytona Prototype, it's a nice feeling. We are not quite happy with our setup right now, and we are working to be closer to our setup. For sure, our time will be faster, and it would be nice to win the pole position."
Scott Dixon led the second session with a lap of 1:42.298 (125.281 mph) in the No. 02 Target/TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, while Romain Dumas led the third and final session with a lap of 1:42.154 (125.458 mph) in the No. 7 Penske Racing Porsche Riley.
In GT, David Haskell led the second session with a time of 1:52.039 (114.389 mph) in the No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8, while Andy Lally was fastest in the final hour with a lap of 1:51.739 (114.696 mph) in the No. 67 TRG Porsche GT3.
Michael Valiante's lap of 1:41.760 (125.943 mph) set on Saturday in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley remains the fastest lap during the opening two days. Sylvain Tremblay leads the GT class with a lap of 1:51.205 (115.247), recorded during Saturday's opening session in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8.
Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was a late arrival at Daytona International Speedway, but managed to run a handful of laps in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley he will share with Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Jimmy Vasser.
"I had a few laps today, and I will be back in the car again tomorrow," Johnson said. "The guys were nice enough to get me a few laps this afternoon to give me something to sleep on tonight. I'm not in these cars too often, so it's nice to do a few laps, look at some data and come back tomorrow and be ready."
While Johnson is looking for an unprecedented fourth consecutive NASCAR crown in 2009, he also wants to win the Rolex 24 for the first time.
"I'm here to win, that's what we're all here for," said Johnson, who finished second in both 2004 and 2008. "I've been on the second step twice now. It's such an accomplishment just to finish this race, so to be there in Gatorade Victory Lane and be part of the ceremonies is great. But second in anything is first loser. It's fun, but it's not the most fun."
Rob Finlay had a scare late in the afternoon when he cut a tire and spun in the No. 2 Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Riley, but he missed hitting anything and escaped with only bodywork damage. He will co-drive in the Rolex 24 with three-time winner Andy Wallace, IndyCar Series regular Danica Patrick and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Casey Mears.
The "Roar Before the Rolex 24" concludes Monday with a pair of sessions for both the Rolex Series and KONI Sports Car Challenge, beginning at 9 a.m. Official practice and qualifying for the 47th Rolex 24 At Daytona begins on Thursday, Jan. 22. The race takes the green flag at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. For additional information, visit grand-am.com.