Daytona 24 Hours testing: Olivier Pla fastest for Michael Shank Racing

Michael Shank Racing picked up today where it left off in qualifying for last year's Daytona 24 Hours by posting the fastest time in the first day of testing

Daytona 24 Hours testing: Olivier Pla fastest for Michael Shank Racing

Experienced Brazilian Ozz Negri Jr was fastest in the first of two sessions that totaled over four hours of running at the 3.56-mile Daytona road course at 1m39.655s in the No.60 Honda-powered Ligier JS P2.

Frenchman Olivier Pla clipped a further two-tenths from that time in the afternoon with a best of 1m39.445s. Their car was the only one to dip below the 1m40s barrier.

Young Brazilian Pipo Derani was second fastest at 1m40.328s in the Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier-Honda, while young American Sean Rayhall improved to third fastest in the waning stages with the distinctive DeltaWing DWC13 Coupe.

Wayne Taylor Racing's No.10 Dallara Corvette was fastest of the "traditional" Daytona Prototype cars, with Ricky Taylor posting a 1m40.511s this morning, second fastest overall, and brother Jordan improving slightly to 1m40.474s in the afternoon.

Defending series champions Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi, sharing the No.5 Action Express Coyote Corvette DP with Scott Pruett and Filipe Albuquerque, were fifth fastest, despite an incident early in this afternoon's session when Barbosa spun and collected the wall at the Bus Stop chicane due to a suspected rear suspension problem.

Among various other red-flag interruptions during the day, the most notable befell the youngest driver in the field, 17-year-old Formula 3 rising star Lance Stroll.

The Canadian blotted his copybook by crashing Ford Chip Ganassi Racing's No.01 Riley-Ford at Turn 5, moments after leaving the pits.

The crew worked hard to make repairs but were unable to complete the work before the afternoon session had been concluded.

BMW LEADS THE WAY IN TIGHT GT BATTLE

The eagerly anticipated debut of the latest specification GTLM/GTE cars didn't disappoint with the top five cars, representing four different manufacturers, separated by 0.318 seconds.

BMW Team RLL's new M6 GTLM was quickest in both sessions, with Lucas Luhr posting the fastest time of 1m45.088s this morning in the No.100 entry.

Team-mate Bill Auberlen set the pace this afternoon at 1m45.120s in the No.25 M6 GTLM, followed by Kuno Wittmer in the No.100 on 1m45.150s, Antonio Garcia (No.3 Corvette) on 1m45.164s, and Richard Westbrook in the brand-new No.67 Ford GT - which didn't even turn a wheel for the first time until this afternoon - on 1m45.426s.

The No.72 SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GTE of Gianmaria Bruni rounded out the top five on 1m45.438s.

A promising day for the Corvette team was blunted this morning when the No.4 car burst into flames on the banking due to a suspected leak in a new FIA-mandated fuel vent.

There was additional drama when a small fire ignited in the team's garage area while a battery was being charged. Fortunately, no-one was hurt in either incident.

Colin Braun set the pace in PC for the defending champion CORE Autosport team, while the ultra-competitive GTD class, featuring full-on GT3 machinery for the first time, was headed by Raffaele Giammaria (No.51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 458 Italia), who jumped ahead of Jeroen Bleekemolen's No.33 Dodge Viper GT3-R just a few minutes from the conclusion of the day with a time of 1m48.358s.

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Ford WEC GTE driver Olivier Pla gets Michael Shank Racing IMSA deal
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Daytona 24 Hours testing: Pla fastest again for Michael Shank Racing

Daytona 24 Hours testing: Pla fastest again for Michael Shank Racing
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