The first major sportscar race of 2019 is in the final stages of preparation as Harry Tinknell and Mazda Team Joest set fastest time in the Rolex 24hr preceding 'Roar before the 24' test session.
Tinknell, driving the top tier category #55 Mazda RT24-P finished day three of the pre-race test session at Daytona today, topping out the times ahead of Fernando Alonso's WTR Cadillac by just 0.127 - the Spaniard himself a further half second ahead of #77 Mazda of former Audi DTM driver Olli Jarvis.
Just behind the top three would be the pair of Action Express Cadillac prototypes, ahead of the Team Penske Acura of Alex Rossi in seventh, the American just edging out the third Cadillac of Devlin DeFrancesco, running under the satellite JDC-Miller Motorsports banner.
Although purely a pre-event test session, the 'Road before the 24' still holds much prestige with racing fans in the USA, and is often seen as one of the key indicators as to the respective performance of the teams ahead of the main event later this month.
If the three days of running held so far are anything to go by, the biggest 24 hour race in American motorsports should be a thrilling affair at the front of the field, made more intriguing still by the prospect of a competitive Fernando Alonso gunning for outright victory on just his second visit to the race.
Although likely to receive the lions share of the headlines come race day on January 26th, the top tier Prototype category isn't the only show in town, with both LMP2 and GTLM taking starring roles in the big race. Representing the best of North American closed top GT cars, the GTLM field was once again an impressive show of close and competitive action during the Roar test, with Porsche and Corvette taking the top three times separated by just 0122, the #912 Porsche 911 RSR of Mathieu Jaminet fastest in class, just ahead of the lead Corvette of Antonio Garcia by 0.007.
Behind the top three would be the Ferrari, Ford and BMW, with just under 6 tenths of a second separating the GTLM class today.
All in, it looks like the Rolex Daytona 24 hour race this January 26th could well be a very impressive start to the 2019 endurance racing season - I can't wait!
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