Here's what we learned from the 2020 Roar Before the Rolex 24 Test
Endurance racing in 2020 roared into action on the weekend
There's always a risk when writing a piece based on what are effectively testing times, especially when the dreaded Balance of Performance is involved.
But the temptation to look at the data from the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test far outweighs the fact that certain teams may not have been showing their true potential for fear of being 'pegged back' before the real deal at the end of the month.
So here's what you need to know from the Roar test:
Corvette make encouraging start to life with new Corvette C8.R
Photo: Corvette Racing
Corvette sparked controversy by ditching its long-standing front-engine layout with the new C8 roadcar, but in racing terms it means the yellow machines now align with Ferrari and Porsche, with the BMW M8 now the only front-engined car amongst the GTLM ranks.
Having fielded the venerable C7.R from 2014 until the Roar test last weekend, Corvette had much to learn but completed a total of 341 laps and got some decent mileage under their belt.
The new-for-2020 C8.R uses a mid-mounted flat-plane crank 5.5-litre naturally aspirated V8, which doesn't quite produce the same throaty roar as its predecessor, but still makes a pretty mega noise:
Mazda are absolutely rapid – once again
They say the best-looking race cars are the fastest ones, and that applies to the RT24-P
Last season marked something of a breakthrough for Mazda, notching up three consecutive victories at Watkins Glen, Mosport and Road America in an astonishing mid-season run.
The RT24-P had always shown great potential, but the results last year gave the Joest-run squad some much-needed confidence that they could follow up on the pace they'd shown in the season-opening Rolex 24.
Last weekend they continued that form by unofficially breaking the lap record, with Olivier Pla putting in a time marginally faster than that set by current co-driver Oliver Jarvis as the official course record last year.
See for yourself just how quick the Mazda was in this fantastic onboard:
GTLM may not have the numbers, but it will be as close as ever
Photo: Porsche Newsroom
With Ford's departure, the GTLM category is down to seven entries for the 2020 edition of the Rolex 24, but the Roar test proved that the action will be as close as ever.
Competing against the duo of entries from Porsche, Corvette and BMW, the lone Risi Competizione Ferrari set the fastest time by virtue of James Calado's 1:42.685 tour, meaning it secured the optimum garage position for the race weekend.
That was just one-thousandth quicker than Nick Tandy's effort in the new-for-2019 spec 911 RSR which will make its IMSA debut in the Rolex 24 at the end of the month.
The Corvette C8.R was next, with an impressive time just over a tenth shy of Colado's benchmark, while the BMW M8 was in fourth, meaning all four brands represented in the category made it into the top four.
The GTLM category is always spectacular. Photo: Porsche Newsroom