Photo: Courtesy of IMSA

Montoya Paces Opening Rolex 24 Practice

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

DAYTONA — A light morning rain could do little to slow Juan Pablo Montoya as the 2019 co-champion in the DPi class set the fastest lap in opening practice for the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 went around the 3.56 mile road course in 1 minute, 49.917 seconds to average 116.597 mph. Olivier Pla was second fastest in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT24P DPi with a lap time of 1 minute, 49.956 seconds while Tristan Vautier was third in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi, giving each DPi manufacturer a spot in the top three.

Nicolas Lapierre led the LMP2 class with a fastest lap of 1 minute, 52.193 seconds to average 114.231 mph in the No. 8 Tower  Motorsport by Starworks entry.

In GTLM, Laurens Vanthoor was quickest in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR-19 with a fastest lap of 1 minute, 57.031 seconds to average 109.509 mph. The No. 911 Porsche was second with Nick Tandy turning a lap of 1 minute, 57.351 seconds.

GTD was led by the sole Audi participant as Mirko Bartolotti piloted the No. 88 WRT Speedstar Audi R8 LMS GT3 to a fastest lap of 1 minute, 58.763 seconds to average 107.912 mph.

Because of the damp conditions, several teams decided to pass on the session, including the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi run by Action Express Racing, the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3, the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3, the No. 57 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 and the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3.

Afternoon practice will be from 12:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. with the following restrictions taking place:

12:45-1:15 for the GTD/LMP2 silver and bronze rated drivers only.
1:15-2:15 all GTD/LMP2 drivers
1:00-2:15 all DPi and GTLM drivers.

Qualifying will be later in the afternoon and separated by class:

4:15-4:30 for GTD drivers
4:40-4:55 for GTLM drivers
5:05-5:20 for DPi/LMP2 drivers

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.