BMW teams took to Daytona International Speedway on January 4-6 for the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test days. In the WeatherTech series GTLM class, BMW Team RLL was there with its #24 and #25 M8 GTEs, while Turner Motorsport was on hand with its GTD class M6 GT3. In the Michelin Pilot Series there were three M4 GT4s, including one each for BimmerWorld, Turner Motorsport, and Classic BMW.
Lap times at the Roar are interesting, but not necessarily definitive, as teams are testing and sorting in advance of the Rolex 24. Still, with the qualifying sessions for pit road positions instituted last year, and with increased scrutineering and monitoring by IMSA, the times are most likely more representative than they were in the past. That said, the quickest BMW time at the Roar was John Edward’s seventh in class 1:43.110 in the #24 M8 GTE. The nine cars in the GTLM pack, led by Jan Magnussen in the #3 Corvette, were covered by a lap time range of .572 seconds; it will be another competitive season. Of course, Edwards’ teammate Alex Zanardi, making his debut in the #24 car using special hand controls, garnered a great deal of attention and admiration for his performance.
Jens Klingmann turned the best time in the Turner M6 GT3, over a second off the pace of the GTD class leading Acura NSX driven by Trent Hindman. One of the Turner team’s big stories this season will be Bill Auberlen’s quest to become the all-time leader in North American sports car wins; he needs three victories to take the lead.
The Porsche Cayman GT4 was dominant in the Michelin Pilot Series; Trent Hindman, who ran the fastest lap in the GTD class in an Acura, also ran the fastest Grand Sport lap in a Cayman. The quickest BMW runner in the series’ Grand Sport class was James Clay, who turned the ninth quickest time in the BimmerWorld M4 GT4.
The Michelin Pilot Series begins with the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona on January 25, and the WeatherTech series begins with the Rolex 24 at Daytona on January 26-27.—Brian Morgan
[Photo courtesy BMW AG.]