2016 Rolex 24 car-by-car preview: PC

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MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno takes a look through the entries for the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona, car-by-car. Here’s a look through the Prototype Challenge (PC) class, with order done by the Roar Before the Rolex 24 times and then second car in team, if applicable.

Note, all cars are the Oreca FLM09:

No. 8 Starworks Motorsport
Drivers: Renger van der Zande, Alex Popow, Chris Cumming, Jack Hawksworth
Roar Time: 1:42.118 (1)

Outlook: Led the Roar test and due for a bit of luck at a race that has consistently eluded Peter Baron, most notably in 2012 for the overall win. Outside of CORE’s No. 54 car, this is the strongest lineup in the pro-am class, and will be a win contender.

No. 88 Starworks Motorsport
Drivers: Maro Engel, Mark Kvamme, Sean Johnston, Felix Rosenqvist
Roar Time: 1:42.458 (3)

Outlook: Baron has also assembled a sneaky good lineup here with three de facto pros, albeit a lineup down on prototype experience. Engel and Rosenqvist should star in their stints, Johnston could surprise in his, and gentleman driver Kvamme helped RG Racing to a top-10 finish last year.

No. 54 CORE autosport
Drivers: Colin Braun, Jon Bennett, Mark Wilkins, Martin Plowman
Roar Time: 1:42.423 (2)

Outlook: On paper, the class favorites and keen to avenge their late-race heartbreak of a year ago. Braun, Plowman and Wilkins are three top-level pros – even if Wilkins has secured the “prestigious-in-rating-but-doesn’t-really-want-be-referred-to-as-a-fake-Silver” Silver rating – and Bennett is a dependable, if not the fastest, true am.

No. 20 BAR1 Motorsports
Drivers: Marc Drumwright, Johnny Mowlem, Tomy Drissi, Ricardo Vera, Brendan Gaughan
Roar Time: 1:42.658 (4)

Outlook: Mowlem returns to defend his pole position and Gaughan will be fun to watch, but the rest of the lineup isn’t stellar on paper. That said, half the battle in PC is finishing, and if BAR1 gets either or both of its cars to the morning they’ll be in with a podium shout.

No. 26 BAR1 Motorsports
Drivers: Ryan Eversley, Ryan Lewis, Adam Merzon, Don Yount, John Falb
Roar Time: 1:44.848 (8)

Outlook: Eversley and Lewis will be fun to watch and all three gentlemen drivers have the potential to punch above their weight. Like their sister car, avoid trouble, keep it running, and a podium is more than possible.

No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports
Drivers: Tom Kimber-Smith, Robert Alon, Jose Gutierrez, Nick Boulle
Roar Time: 1:42.986 (5)

Outlook: Bobby Oergel’s team makes a late return to PC after a possible LMP2-spec program fell through. As such, the lineup leaves a bit to be desired after “TKS,” the team’s lone experienced ace. But few would have pegged this car a race winner last year given the lack of driving experience, so PR1 won’t give up its crown without a fight.

No. 85 JDC/Miller Motorsports
Drivers: Chris Miller, Mikhail Goikhberg, Stephen Simpson, Kenton Koch
Roar Time: 1:43.491 (6)

Outlook: The John Church-led squad has a respectable lineup and Simpson and Koch, in particular, have the potential to star in their stints. Would be a podium finisher on merit, and a potential winner if the class favorites hit any trouble.

No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports
Drivers: James French, Jim Norman, Josh Norman, Brandon Gdovic
Roar Time: 1:44.848 (8)

Outlook: Probably will go for the tortoise beating the hare strategy in class with an inexperienced, all-gentlemen lineup. That said, French was respectable in the 2015 season and Jim Norman is a past class winner at the Rolex 24, so there is slight experience there.