The morning fog quickly lifted Friday and the day was bright, sunny and warming to upper seventies at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Monterey Festival of Speed. The slight breeze cut the heat. Several series are running including the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No.16, Grand-Am Koni Sports Car Challenge, SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, and the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge.

Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley Daytona Prototypes got off to a good start in the first Rolex Series practice Friday morning. MICHAEL VALIANTE/No.6 was fastest at 1:20.079/100.610 mph. His co-driver is JOHN PEW.  The sister car driven by OSWALDO NEGRI Jr/No.60 was second fastest.  His co-driver is MARK PATTERSON.

TIMO BERNHARD/No.12 Penske Racing Porsche Riley was third – co-driving with ROMAIN DUMAS.

SYLVAIN TREMBLY/No.70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 was the top GT driver, in seventeenth place overall – co-driving with NICK HAM. Second and third in class were ANDREW DAVIS/No.57 Steven Motorsports, partnered with ROBIN LIDDEL; and LEH KEEN/No.87 Farnbacher Loles Racing, driving with DIRK WERNER.

The sixteen Daytona prototypes are a diverse mixture of engine and chassis combination. Eleven have chassis by Riley, with two Dallaras, and one each Lola and Crawford. The engine manufacturers are Ford-6, three each for Pontiac and Porsche-3, BMW-2, and one each for Honda and Lexus.

The mix in the GT class is split four ways, with eight Porsches, four each for Mazda and Pontiac, and two Corvettes.

The Rolex Series drivers hail from North and South America and Europe. Many of the 51 Americans are from Florida, California and Colorado, with one from Hollywood, actor PATRICK DEMPSEY/No.40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8, who is co-driving with JOE FOSTER. Canada and England have three drivers each; Brazil, Canada,  Germany and Mexico have two each, and one each hail from France, Monaco, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland. There are more foreign drivers in the DP class, while the GT class has only three foreign drivers.

The Rolex Series has a second Friday practice, followed by afternoon qualifying for Sunday’s ‘sprint’ race.