Matt Cleary | Posted June 01, 2012
A new chapter in GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series history opened on Friday morning as teams and drivers prepared with opening practice for Saturday’s Chevrolet GRAND-AM Detroit 200 at Belle Isle (Live on SPEED, 5:00 PM ET).
With the race being the first-ever Rolex event to be held on the 14-turn, 2.1-mile circuit, the entire field of GT and Daytona Prototype drivers was looking to learn as much about the track. But with heavy rains ahead of the session and continued precipitation throughout the 2-hour practice, track conditions caused some cautious running.
GAINSCO Racing’s Alex Gurney led the session with his fast lap time of 1:39.300 seconds setting the mark in DP. He was closely followed by fellow Corvette squads Spirit of Daytona (No. 90, Valiante/Westbrook) and Action Express Racing (No. 9, Barbosa/France/Law).
Underlining the drastically wet conditions was the proximity of the GT-class times to those set by the DP machines, with Stevenson Motorsports pilot Robin Liddell pacing the GT class runners with his fast time of 1:43.145 seconds in the Chevrolet Camaro GT.R that he will share with Jon Edwards in Saturday’s two-hour sprint.
“The session started out very, very slippery so when there is any standing water out there you just have to tip toe,” said Gurney. “So it was really difficult at the beginning but yeah it started to get a little bit of a drier line as the session went on and our car was definitely very good. We were pretty hooked up. I felt comfortable out there and putting the power down good. We seemed to be a little bit ahead of everybody else. It looks promising if it rains tomorrow.
“This is a really important race for GM and they support us so we want to win this one for them. We’re definitely pulling out all the stops.”
A second practice session (1:20 p.m. ET) will give the drivers one more chance to learn a little bit more ahead of Friday’s qualifying (5:05 p.m. ET) session.
Practice 1 Results: Click Here
With experience at Skip Barber Racing School, Lime Rock Park, and several IndyCar teams, Matt Cleary has covered open wheel and sports car racing for over a decade. Working for Sunday Group Management, Cleary also provides strategic motorsports consulting for a range of clients in the sport. You can follow him on Twitter @sundaygroup.