2015 Rolex 24 Preview: GTD class

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We conclude our look at the four classes competing in the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona with a look at the GT Daytona class. The 2014 race came down to the last lap, and at least a dozen cars figure to have a realistic shot at the 2015 crown.

2014 RECAP

WINNERS: No. 555 Level 5 Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, Scott Tucker, Jeff Segal, Townsend Bell, Bill Sweedler, Alessandro Pier Guidi

PODIUM: No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS, Spencer Pumpelly, Nelson Canache Jr., Markus Winkelhock, Tim Pappas, No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America, Madison Snow, Jan Heylen, Marco Seefried

POLE: No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS, Christopher Haase

2015 FORECAST

ROAR RECAP: The Porsche 911 GT Americas held the edge in the majority of sessions at the Roar, even though the Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R driven by Marc Goossens set the outright fastest time during the week. These two, plus the TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3s, were the class of the field, with Ferrari and Audi struggling and BMW unable to set a representative time after arriving late and running only in wet conditions on Sunday.

RACE OUTLOOK: GTD is a hard one to peg because as the tail-end class (in speed terms, not talent terms) so much of the race is determined early. If you get down a lap or lose the pace early in the race, it’s harder to recover. With a 19-car grid, the competition is deeper here than in almost any other category (P is 16 cars and GTLM is 10). The race of course came down to the final lap last year, even beyond before the results order was reversed, and the challengers will be the six or seven cars within the class lead lap by time of sunrise on Sunday morning.

WIN/PODIUM CONTENDERS: In no particular order… the Nos. 22 and 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT Americas, Nos. 33 and 93 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-Rs, No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America, No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS, No. 58 Dempsey/Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America, No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia, No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America, No. 81 GB Autosport Porsche 911 GT America, No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 and No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Yes, I realize that’s 12 of 19 cars entered in class, but all of these lineups feature at least three capable drivers in a four-driver lineup, and that’s the minimum standard for success in the Rolex 24, even with the two Silver/Bronze-rated driver stipulation.

THE REST OF THE RUNNERS: Flying Lizard is doubtful, on paper anyway, to repeat its near-heroics of last year when it almost scored the win. With Markus Winkelhock as lead driver and his three teammates having a combined one prior Rolex 24 start, it will be a challenge for them to match their 2014 effort. This is not to say their effort and preparation won’t be there, but this field is simply too deep. As for the rest, Muehlner’s main goal is always trying to finish, the Konrad, AF Corse and second Scuderia Corsa lineups are stealthy but inexperienced in North American racing, and the second TRG-AMR entry is rarely a factor. It’s still a solid, deep field of 19 cars, with most of the drivers distinguished in some capacity heading into the race.

CLASS ENTRY LIST (19 cars)

  • 18 Darryl O’Young, Marc Basseng, Matteo Beretta, Connor De Phillippi, Muehlner Motorsports America Porsche 911 GT America
  • 19 Jim Michaelian, Matteo Beretta, Connor De Phillippi, Muehlner Motorsports America Porsche 911 GT America
  • 22 Leh Keen, Cooper MacNeil, Andrew Davis, Shane van Gisbergen, Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America
  • 23 Ian James, Mario Farnbacher, Alex Riberas, Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America
  • 28 Klaus Bachler, Christian Englehart, Christopher Zoechling, Rolf Ineichen, Lance Willsey, Konrad Motorsport Porsche 911 GT America
  • 33 Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating, Marc Goossens, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R
  • 44 Andy Lally, John Potter, Marco Seefried, Martin Ragginger, Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America
  • 45 Markus Winkelhock, Robert Thorne, Tomonobu Fujii, Satoshi Hoshino, Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS
  • 48 Christopher Haase, Dion von Moltke, Bryce Miller, Rene Rast, Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS
  • 49 Matt Griffin, Pasin Lathouras, Michele Rugolo, Rui Aguas, AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT3
  • 58 Madison Snow, Jan Heylen, Patrick Dempsey, Phillip Eng, Dempsey/Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America
  • 63 Townsend Bell, Bill Sweedler, Anthony Lazzaro, Jeff Segal, Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3
  • 64 Daniel Serra, Francisco Longo, Marcos Gomes, Andrea Bertolini, Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3
  • 73 Spencer Pumpelly, Patrick Lindsey, Jim Norman, Kevin Estre, David Ducote, Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America
  • 81 Damien Faulkner, Mike Skeen, Michael Avenatti, Rory Butcher, Kuba Giermaziak, GB Autosport Porsche 911 GT America
  • 93 Kuno Wittmer, Dominik Farnbacher, Al Carter, Cameron Lawrence, Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R
  • 97 Markus Palttala, Michael Marsal, Boris Said, Andy Priaulx, Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3
  • 007 James Davison, Christina Nielsen, Christoffer Nygaard, Brandon Davis, TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3
  • 009 Derek DeBoer, Max Riddle, TBA, TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

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Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.