Rast in Formula E. Photo: Getty Images

International aces Rene Rast, Sam Bird added to Rolex 24 lineup

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The driver roster for the 55th Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona continues to grow.

This week, two more teams announced additions to their respective driver lineups.

VISIT FLORIDA Racing has added German driver Rene Rast to its team. Rast will join Belgian driver Marc Goossens and Dutch driver Renger van der Zande in the No. 90 Gibson-powered Riley Mk. 30 in the Prototype class.

Rast has outstanding credentials, particularly in the Rolex 24, having won the GT class for Magnus Racing in both 2012 and 2016.

Photo courtesy of IMSA
Rast. Photo courtesy of IMSA

He also finished second in the LMP2 class in the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans for G-Drive Racing. He also won in LMP2 at Bahrain and earned podium finishes at Silverstone and Circuit of the Americas.

Rast is also a two-time winner of the 24 Hours at Spa and the 24 Hours of Nurburgring.

“The Rolex 24 is one of my favorite races during the year and I can’t wait for the action to begin,” Rast said in a media release. “I have won the Rolex 24 now two times but not overall. My big dream was always to one day win it overall.”

Scuderia Corsa, whose Ferrari 488 GT3 makes its Daytona, also added to its driver lineup.

Sam Bird
Bird. Photo courtesy of IMSA

Ferrarri factory driver Sam Bird completes the lineup and will join 2016 IMSA and NAEC GT-Daytona champions Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan, along with confirmed third driver Matteo Cressoni.

Bird earned two victories last season in the WEC, piloting a Ferrari 488 GTE, and was a key component of Scuderia’s WEC Manufacturer championship.

As for Cressoni, he previously drove for Scuderia Corsa in the 2014 Petit Le Mans.

Scuderia Corsa is defending champion of the IMSA and North American Endurance Cup GT-Daytona championships.

“With this driver lineup and the proven success of the 488 GT3, I am confident that Scuderia Corsa will defend our Championships this year. The GTD field has expanded this season to factory entries and we welcome the challenge” Scuderia Corsa team owner Giacomo Mattioli said. “2017 marks the 70th anniversary for Ferrari and there is no better way to celebrate than success at the race track, where it all began.”

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F1 2017 driver review: Romain Grosjean

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Romain Grosjean

Team: Haas
Car No.: 8
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P6 (Austria)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 28
Championship Position: 13th

After leading Haas’ charge through its debut Formula 1 season in 2016, Romain Grosjean once again stepped up as team leader for the American team through its sophomore campaign despite scoring one point fewer.

Haas did not expect any major step in performance heading into 2017, having dealt with building all-new cars for two different sets of regulations, but the team was able to match its season one points total by the halfway mark this time around.

The big boost was the addition of a second points scoring driver – Kevin Magnussen – to partner Grosjean. Grosjean looked increasingly comfortable at Haas even if the car often presented problems, particularly under braking.

Radio rants were frequent, with Grosjean unable to drive around the issues as Magnussen did. But he was nevertheless able to finish the year as Haas’ top scorer, with his highlight moment being a perfect run to sixth in Austria.

Greater consistency was evident from both Grosjean and Haas through 2017, yet there were still swings in form that need to be ironed out in the future. The team was unable to capitalize on Renault and Toro Rosso’s late season difficulties that could have seen it jump to sixth in the constructors’ championship.

Grosjean once again proved himself to be a very competent and talented racer through 2017, but needs a little more panache – perhaps down to the car more than anything – if he is to put himself in the frame for a top-line drive in the future.

Haas continues to offer a good platform, though, and its third season should be its best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations. It will be a real chance for Grosjean to show what he can do.

Season High: A perfect run to sixth in Austria, leading the midfield cars.

Season Low: Crashing early with Ocon in Brazil, hurting Haas’ constructors’ hopes.