Palou takes Cadillac back atop the Roar under the lights at Daytona

Renger van der Zande kept the No. 01 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R at the top of the time sheet in the fifth and final test session of the Roar Before the 24 until he was bumped out of the top spot…by his teammate. Alex Palou ended up with the best time of the night in the Chip Ganassi Racing car, turning a 1m35.705s lap. For those keeping score at home, that’s Cadillac setting the best time in three sessions (the other two were the No. 31 Whelen Engineering V-Series.R) and Porsche two.

While BMW and Acura never set the fast time in a session, BMW can at least claim one unique honor – the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL M Hybrid V8 was in the top three every session courtesy of Connor De Phillippi. In this nighttime run, De Phillippi was 0.277s off Palou’s best, in second. Kevin Estre was third quickest in the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963 at 1m35.984s despite the car losing a wheel early in the session, with Filipe Albuquerque in fourth to make it all four manufacturers in the top four. Jack Aitken completed the top five in the No. 31 Cadillac, which went to the garage after only a couple of laps due to a broken suspension, but emerged in enough time to knock out 22 laps.

The Roar’s night session is often critical because it’s a good opportunity for teams to figure out how their cars will change as temperatures drop during after sundown. However, this evening’s session was about 10 degrees F cooler than the overnight low is expected to be next Sunday morning — 55 degrees F.


“Today was kind of an outlier when you look at the forecast, what’s in store for us for the race, so with the temperature the car changes,” said Tom Blomqvist, driver of the No. 31 with Aitken and Pipo Derani. “We went through our paces, the normal progression of preparations, and [were] not really chasing anything. Qualifying is important and the car is in a good spot; it’s working well. I believe we’re in position to fight for the pole. That is the mini target for now until we get to the main prize next week.”

Scott Huffaker set the best time in LMP2 with a 1m38.270s lap in the No. 20 MDK by High Class Racing ORECA, followed by Matthieu Vaxiviere in the No. 88 AF Corse ORECA at 1m38.664s. Charles Milesi was only 0.01s off in the No. 11 TDS Racing ORECA. The No. 74 Riley Motorsports (Felipe Fraga) and No. 22 United Autosports USA (Felix Rosenqvist) ORECAs rounded out the top five.

Eddie Cheever took the No. 47 Cetilar Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 to the top of the GTD charts, as well as in GT overall. Driving the No. 120 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, Jan Heylen was 0.268s off Cheever’s 1m45.739s lap for second in GTD, fourth GT overall. Miguel Molina put the No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari in third at 1m46.11s. Larry Voorde was the quickest of the MDK Motorsports drivers in the No. 86 Porsche in fourth, ahead of Michelle Gatting in the No. 83 Iron Dames Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2.

For the first time this weekend, the new Pfaff Motorsports McLaren 720S hit the top half of the GTD PRO field, shooting straight to first as McLaren factory pilot Marvin Kirchofer posted a 1m45.980s in the No. 9. Dirk Mueller was right there, however, only 0.027s off in the No. 65 Ford Multimatic Motorsports Mustang GT3. Daniel Juncadella posted the best time for the Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports squad, a 1m46.387s lap that was good enough for third for the No. 3 Z06 GT3.R that, until right before the session, the crew was buttoning up after an engine change. Laurin Heinrich (No. 77 AO Racing Porsche) and Jordan Pepper (No. 19 Iron Lynx Lamborghini) completed the top five.

All 59 cars entered for the Rolex 24 at Daytona took part in the session, although the GTD No. 17 AWA Racing Corvette Z06 GT3.R and GTD PRO No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 296 only managed a handful of laps after spending a significant amount of the session in the garage.

UP NEXT: A 25-minute GTP-only session at 1:25 p.m. ET Sunday, followed by qualifying for the 62nd Rolex 24 at Daytona beginning at 1:55 p.m.


Story originally appeared on Racer