Photo courtesy of IMSA

The 2017 Roar Before the Rolex 24 entry list revealed

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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:

PROTOTYPE

  • 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

GT DAYTONA

  • 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

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.