Rebellion takes first blood in Day of Roar Before the 24


Day 1 is in the books at the Roar Before the Rolex 24, the annual test at Daytona International Speedway that allows drivers and teams to prepare for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 28 and 29.

Fifty-five cars in the four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes entered the Roar, and almost all of them got in some practice on a warm, sunny day. The weather forecast for Saturday calls for heavy rain, but Sunday, the final day of the Roar, is expected to be clear and very cool.

Neel Jani, driving the No. 13 Rebellion Racing Gibson-powered ORECA LM P2 Prototype, was the fastest car overall in both the morning and afternoon sessions. Jani’s performance was remarkable since he had never seen Daytona International Speedway before, had never driven the Rebellion ORECA before, and had never driven an LM P2 car before.

His first look at the Speedway was daunting – “I saw the steep banking, and I thought, ‘How can you drive on that?’” But Jani, a 33-year-old from Switzerland and the current FIA World Endurance champion, is a quick study.

“This is the first time the car has run,” he said. “We had a lot of issues getting it ready.” But clearly, the Rebellion Racing team did.

His best lap, set in the morning session on a cooler track, was 1 minute, 39.160 seconds. Second was the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Gibson-powered ORECA driven by Mathias Beche, 0.274 seconds back impressive for a brand-new team. Gibson, incidentally, is a racing-only engine built by Gibson Technology in England.

Third overall was the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi with a lap of 1:39.496, set by Ricky Taylor. The LM P2 cars are similar to the LM P2 Prototypes that competed last year; the DPi cars are all-new, replacing the Daytona Prototype. Cadillac has also taken over for Chevrolet as engine supplier for three DPi cars.

Of course, Chevrolet remains deeply involved in the GT Le Mans class – indeed, the fastest lap in GTLM was set by driver Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R. His best lap was time of a 1:44.760, with three of the four Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs lapping second, third and fourth fastest.

The No. 26 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09 was quickest in Prototype Challenge, with driver Johnny Mowlem. In GT Daytona, Andrew Davis had the best lap in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS.