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Nigel S Dobbie's definitive book on Corvette racing

Roar Before The 24 2015

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Christmas is over, New Year is done, time to get back to some racing! Okay so this isn’t strictly racing we all have to wait until the 24th of January for that to happen. The Roar Before The 24 is the three day test at Daytona International Speedway two weeks before the 24 Hours of Daytona which is the first race of the Tudor United Sportscar Championship and also the first leg of the North American Endurance Cup.

The 24 Hours of Daytona traditionally kicks of the Endurance Racing season in North America except usually there is a 3 week gap between the test and race weekends. Given that the Corvette Racing team are based in New Hudson, MI, an ice storm was being predicted for their route home Sunday / Monday, rain was forecast and duly arrived Sunday morning at the track and the team need to be back in Daytona on the Tuesday before the race they could be forgiven for packing up after the Saturday night practice session and heading home. It was also Doug Fehan’s birthday so maybe there was a massive party somewhere (that I wasn’t invited to I might add) and the team were all too hungover to return to the race track Sunday.

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The Friday session started cold (45F) and overcast with conditions expected to warm up over the following 2 days. The GTLM Class of the Tudor United Sportscar Championship lost the factory Viper team at the end of the 2014 season but in compensation an extra Ferrari 458 Italia (#51) and the #98 Aston Martin brought the field back up to 10 entrants. Corvette Racing decided to bring the C7R 001 chassis as the #4 car which was the one the team finished the season with in 2014 plus the 003 chassis as the #3 car which had competed all of 2014. The only visible change to the cars was the change from the painted silver side stripe to a more black chrome side stripe.

The #98 Aston Martin topped the timings for the first session on Friday, the #911 Porsche the second session. Saturday session three and the Aston was back on top, session 4 it was the turn of the #25 BMW to record the fastest time. Session 5 again went to Porsche but this time the #912, the final session (the night practice) went to the Aston Martin with Corvette C7.R #4 second and #3 Corvette third.

Sunday as mentioned earlier was wet and a lot of the teams decided to head home rather than add meaningless laps to their cars while greatly increasing the risks of damage.

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Overall combined times for all the session saw the #912 Porsche take the honors with it’s session 5 time of 1:44.316 the slowest car was the #25 BMW with a time of 1:45.058. IMSA will be pleased that all 10 cars were covered by less than 9/10ths of a second over the 3.56 mile course which utilizes both the high banking of Turns 1-2 and 3-4 plus the infield horseshoe loop and the bus stop chicane on the back straight.

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In the Daytona Prototype Class Corvette DPs took the top honors for the weekend with Jordan Taylor recording a 1:39.181 on Saturday in session 3, second place went to the defending Daytona 24 Hours champions the #5 Action Express Corvette DP. The top 9 cars in the DP Class were covered by just 1 second and in addition to this the 10th / 11th place teams were testing brand new cars for the first time in public so I expect them and other teams in the top 10 to be aiming for a good finish on Sunday the 25th of January.

Testing is just that and therefore it is extremely difficult to get a feel for what programs each of the cars are running / tires / fuel loads etc. during each of the sessions. I know that Corvette were running with full tanks for at least some of the sessions. I also know they were trying different rear wing angles. Corvette Racing also welcomed a new driver for the test who will be racing at both Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring in March and that is Frenchman Simon Pagenaud.

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Nigel S. Dobbie

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