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.
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
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