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

Olivier Pla set the pace for Michael Shank Racing again in testing for the Daytona 24 Hours, as the leading contenders played their cards close to their chests

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

With three weeks to go until the IMSA SportsCar Championship season opener, the leading teams seemed determined not to over-play their hands on the famous speedway's road course.

Nevertheless, three different teams topped the timing charts in Saturday's trio of sessions, with the No.60 Ligier-Honda JS P2 once again on the top of the pile when Pla took advantage of cooler temperatures to post a best of 1m39.687 during the evening's final outing which was held entirely in the dark.

The distinctive and diminutive DeltaWing DWC13 topped the morning session in the hands of Katherine Legge at 1m40.032s, a scant 0.045s faster than Ozz Negri in Shank's Ligier-Honda.

Legge also set the second fastest time of the day with a 1m39.955s lap early in this evening's final session.

Ricky Taylor took his turn out in front this afternoon by setting the pace at 1m40.032s in his father Wayne's Dallara Corvette DP.

That time remained good enough for third fastest overall, just edging the "new" Mazda petrol turbo-powered Lola B12/80 Coupe with which 2015 Indy Lights champion and sports car debutant Spencer Pigot laid down a marker for the SpeedSource Mazda team with a 1m40.055s.

Scott Sharp also stepped up with the Tequila Patron/ESM team's Ligier-Honda to set the third fastest time in the afternoon at 1m40.179s, good enough for fifth overall.

Veteran Scott Pruett turned the sixth best time for the defending series champion team with a lap at 1m40.535s, also in the afternoon, in the Action Express Coyote Corvette DP.

The only major difficulties in the prototype ranks befell the locally based Visit Florida team, with Ryan Dalziel, Marc Goossens and Ryan Hunter-Reay's efforts hindered throughout the first two sessions with a gearbox problem that allowed them to complete only seven laps.

The GTLM contenders remained in virtual lock-step with nothing to choose between the leading cars.

The best time of the day was set by moonlighting Audi factory driver Mike Rockenfeller, who turned a lap in the morning at 1m45.256s in the No.3 Corvette C7.R.

Italian Alessandro Pier Guidi was fractionally slower at 1m45.266s when he topped the charts in the afternoon, followed by Richard Westbrook (No.67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT) on 1m45.269s.

Jan Magnussen (No.3 Corvette), Dirk Muller (No. 25 Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM), teammate Bruno Spengler (No.100 BMW) and James Calado (No. 72 SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GTE) also posted times within two tenths of Rockenfeller's best.

The remaining two classes were similarly close. Maro Engel was quickest in PC for Starworks Motorsport with a lap at 1m43.175s in the morning, while Lamborghini factory driver Mirko Bortolotti edged the ultra-close GTD field when he turned a 1m48.230s lap in the evening in Paul Miller Racing's No.48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3.

Fabio Babini was quickest in the afternoon on 1m48.309s in Franz Konrad's Lamborghini, although Jeroen Bleekemolen (Dodge Viper), Raffaele Giammaria (Ferrari 458 Italia) and Sven Muller (Frikadelli Racing Porsche GT3R) also were within three tenths of a second.

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