Cadillac Shows its Worth at Daytona Roar Event While Alonso Adjusts to Prototype Action
Cadillac swept the top four positions with its downsized 5.5-liter V8.
This weekend's Roar Before The 24 event at Daytona gave IMSA teams their first chance at proving their new and revised setups ahead of the Rolex 24 season-opener. Freshly full-time prototype entries including Team Penske Acura and Mazda Team Joest were given an opportunity to compete against the established Cadillac teams including Action Express Racing, Spirit of Daytona, and the Wayne Taylor crew. That, combined with Fernando Alonso's most dedicated test sessions yet with United Autosports, foreshadowed the worthwhile contest that will take place on January 27-28.
Collectively, the Cadillac entries proved vastly successful in comparison to their prototype counterparts. Joao Barbosa and Felipe Nasr fielded the grid for Team AXR, the latter notching the fastest lap at this year's Daytona Roar event. The duo led the way for a 1-2-3-4 sweep at the top by Caddy DPi-V.R cars, leaving the rest to compete for top honors outside the first four positions.
"Obviously, we’re coming back for a second year with our car," said Jordan Taylor, driver of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi. "As a team, we’ve been racing here for 10-15 years, so we have a lot of experience here at Daytona and with this package, so we expected to come on strong. As the testing has gone on – we started at the front, and everyone is kind of working their way up towards where we are.
"Our increments of improvement are very small, because we have our car pretty well sorted, and everyone else is taking big chunks. I think by the end of tomorrow, it’s going to be a pretty tight field. I think it’s cool to see all the European guys, the European teams, and drivers, adapting to what we’re used to and they’re adapting quickly. I think it’s going to be a good race at the end of the month."
Dane Cameron thwarted fifth place at the end of Day Two for Penske and put the American team in contention with the V8 powered Cadillacs running a new 5.5-liter engine.
As for two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso, he focused on his two greatest concerns at Daytona—night driving and traffic. The Spaniard compared it to his experience at 2017's Indianapolis 500 saying that it presented similar obstacles.
“It’s more or less the same goal as Indianapolis, first of all, to try to learn different driving techniques,” Alonso said. “I’m trying to learn from the specialists of endurance races and try to be a better driver when the 24 hours finish. That’s the first aim. It’s the first time for me in an endurance race, first time in a prototype car, first time driving at night, the first time driving with GT around, so many new things will come step-by-step.”