Photo courtesy: IMSA

What you need to know about Roar Before the Rolex 24, including entry lists, schedules

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The first racing action of the new year – not counting snowmobiles or dog teams in blizzard-laden areas – takes place Friday through Sunday with the IMSA Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

The three-day event is the kick-off for the sports car world’s season. Not only will there be plenty of practice sessions, there will also be a first-ever race as part of the Roar: the IMSA Prototype Challenge (Saturday, 1:25 p.m. ET to 3:10 p.m. ET).

A field of 20 Prototypes and 30 GTLM/GTD class cars are featured in what is a mandatory test session for the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, which takes place Jan. 27-28.

There’s plenty to see over the next three days, including the debut of Team Penske’s IMSA sports car team, featuring Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud, Ricky Taylor and Graham Rahal.

The weekend will feature a number of practice sessions, as well as qualifying Sunday for pit road spots and garage assignments for the Rolex 24.

And then there’s the IMSA Prototype Challenge, which will be a timed (one hour, 45 minutes) race on Saturday, starting at 1:15 p.m. ET.

Also taking part during the weekend is testing for the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.

Among other notable drivers that will be taking part in this weekend’s action are IndyCar drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Sebastian Bourdais (who was part of last year’s GTLM-winning team), as well as Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll.

Here’s the information you need:

ENTRY LISTS

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – Prototype (20 entries), GT Le Mans (9 entries), GT Daytona (21 entries)

IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge – Grand Sport (28 entries), Touring Car (7 entries), Street Tuner (5 entries)

IMSA Prototype Challenge – Le Mans Prototype 3 (14 entries) and Mazda Prototype Challenge (11 entries)

 

DAY-BY-DAY SCHEDULES

FRIDAY, JANUARY 5TH

9:00 am – 9:30 am

IMSA Prototype Challenge practice session #1

9:45 am – 10:45 am

IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge practice session #1

11:00 am – 12:15 pm

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice session #1

1:15 pm – 1:55 pm

IMSA Prototype Challenge practice session #2

2:10 pm – 3:10 pm

IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge practice session #2

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice session #2

8:00 pm

Garages close

 

SATURDAY, JANUARY 6TH

9:00 am – 9:20 am

IMSA Prototype Challenge qualifying

9:35 am – 10:35 am

IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge practice session #3

10:50 am – 12:20 pm

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice session #3

1:25 pm – 3:10 pm

IMSA Prototype Challenge At DAYTONA (1 hour 45 minutes)

3:30 pm – 4:15 pm

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice session #4

4:30 pm – 5:15 pm

IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge practice session #4

6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice session #5

9:00 pm

Garages close

 

SUNDAY, JANUARY 7TH

9:00 am – 10:30 am

IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge practice session #5

10:45 am – 11:15 am

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice session #6

11:25 am – 11:40 am

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying session (GTD)

11:50 am – 12:05 pm

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying session (GTLM)

12:15 pm – 12:30 pm

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying session (P)

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge practice session #6

2:45 pm – 3:45 pm

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice session #7

7:00 pm

Garages close

IMSA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration: Why Sebring is so special to Bobby Rahal

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Bobby Rahal has driven in some of the biggest races in the world, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 Hours and, of course, winning the Indianapolis 500 as a driver in 1986 and in 2004 as a team owner.

But winning the 12 Hours of Sebring two years in a row (1987 and 1988), Rahal feels, is right up there in terms of his greatest accomplishments as a race car driver.

As IMSA celebrates its 50th anniversary, Rahal reflected on what racing at Sebring International Raceway has meant to him:

“To me, Sebring is the ultimate endurance race. Not as long as Daytona or Le Mans, but the demands put on a car and driver at Sebring are highly unusual.

“My father raced at Sebring in the late 60’s. To win that race two years in a row really meant something to me.

“While we’ve won a lot of other races, we’ve won just about everywhere, you name it. But for me personally, winning at Sebring those two years in a row was very special.”

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