The unofficial kickoff to the North American road racing calendar occurs this week at Daytona International Speedway, with the annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 test, which runs from Jan. 6-8 before the Jan. 28-29 Rolex 24 at Daytona itself.
It’s the de facto “spring training” event for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with this year’s Roar taking on a greater significance as the first public event for the debut of the series’ new Daytona Prototype international (DPi) formula, alongside the new 2017-spec LMP2 chassis.
In all, 50 cars are entered, with the biggest entry coming from the GT Daytona class. There are 12 cars in Prototype, 2 in Prototype Challenge, 11 in GT Le Mans and 25 in GT Daytona.
Despite a flurry of TBD drivers listed, many of the TBDs have already been named by their respective teams, and are just going through the formal process by IMSA to be officially added later (per IMSA: Nominated drivers that have not received their 2017 IMSA membership/license are listed as TBD).
The PC class also figures to grow from 2 cars for the Rolex 24. Right now, only BAR1 Motorsports has cars entered although both Performance Tech Motorsports and Starworks Motorsport figure to add entries.
Prototype’s dynamic dozen entries features seven DPi models, three of the new Cadillac DPi-V.Rs, with two Mazda MRT24-Ps and two Nissan Onroak DPis apiece. The remaining five entries are new-spec LMP2 cars: three Oreca 07s, one singular Riley Mk. 30 and one Ligier JS P217.
Most of the drivers have already been announced, and Jeff Gordon heads a list of star guest drivers that include plenty of aces from the IndyCar and sports car worlds.
The GTLM field sees Ford Chip Ganassi Racing going all in with four cars to attempt to topple Corvette Racing. Ganassi won at Le Mans last year while Corvette enters with a shot at a Rolex 24 three-peat. Unlike last year, Risi Competizione will make the Roar as it has its Ferrari 488 GTE (the lone Ferrari in class), while BMW Team RLL has several new drivers and Porsche GT Team has both new drivers and, more importantly, its new mid-engined normally aspirated 911.
GTD boasts the largest number of manufacturers to go along with the car count. Some of the lineups are carefully crafted to take full advantage of the controversial driver ratings system, so there’s a number of de facto all-pro lineups in a theoretically pro-am class. With the debuts of Acura, Lexus and Mercedes-AMG in GTD, how those seven cars get on compared to the returning makes and models will be interesting to watch.
The full entry list is linked here. But to fill in the TBDs, we’ll list the ones already announced by teams below:
- 2-Tequila Patron ESM, Pipo Derani
- 13-Rebellion Racing, Nick Heidfeld, Stephane Sarrazin
- 22-Tequila Patron ESM, Brendon Hartley
- 31-Action Express Racing, Mike Conway
- 52-PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports, Jose Gutierrez, Mike Guasch (fourth driver still TBD)
- 81-DragonSpeed, Loic Duval, Ben Hanley
- 85-JDC/Miller Motorsports, Mathias Beche
- 90-Visit Florida Racing, Renger van der Zande, Marc Goossens (third driver still TBD)
GT LE MANS
- 69-Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, Harry Tincknell, Tony Kanaan
- 14-3GT Racing, Sage Karam
- 15-3GT Racing, Jack Hawksworth, Austin Cindric
- 23-Alex Job Racing, Townsend Bell, Bill Sweedler, Frankie Montecalvo, Pierre Kaffer (this car not listed on the entry list, but has been announced)
- 28-Alegra Motorsports, Daniel Morad, Jesse Lazare, Michael de Quesada
- 33-Riley Motorsports-Team AMG, Adam Christodoulou
- 50-Riley Motorsports-WeatherTech Racing, Cooper MacNeil, Shane van Gisbergen, Thomas Jaeger
- 57-Stevenson Motorsports, Robin Liddell, Matt Bell (U.S.)
- 63-Scuderia Corsa, Alessandro Balzan, Christina Nielsen, Matteo Cressoni (fourth driver still TBD)
- 73-Park Place Motorsports, Joerg Bergmeister (fourth driver still TBD)
- 86-Michael Shank Racing, Jeff Segal, Ryan Hunter-Reay
- 93-Michael Shank Racing, Graham Rahal
- 991-TRG, Pablo Sanchez