Rolex 24 at Daytona entry list will have 50 cars testing and qualifying at Roar next week

Rolex 24 entry list
IMSA
0 Comments

The entry list for the 59th Rolex 24 at Daytona was released Wednesday afternoon with 50 cars slated to practice and qualify next week at Daytona International Speedway. It’ll mark the largest field since 50 cars started the 2018 Rolex 24.

The annual preseason Roar Before the Rolex 24 will be held Jan 22-24, concluding with a 100-minute qualifying race for the season opener to the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule.

With the addition of a new LMP3 class (with seven new entries) and a rise in car counts for LMP2 (from five to 10) and GTD (18 to 20), there will be a dozen additional cars in the Jan. 30-31 race than at the 2020 Rolex 24 (which had a record-low 38 entries).

ENTRY LIST: Teams attempting to make the 2021 Rolex 24

REVAMPED ROAR: Annual test session moved closer to Rolex 24

There will be four practice sessions and a qualifying session Jan. 22-23 ahead of the Jan. 24 qualifier (4:30 p.m. streaming on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold), which will mark the first time in Rolex 24 history that the starting grid of the prestigious sports car event will be set by a warmup race.

Cup Series champion Chase Elliott (in his Rolex 24 debut), Jimmie Johnson, Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon are among the major NASCAR and IndyCar stars who are entered in the event in the DPi division, which will feature seven cars.

Defending champion Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 will return with a new manufacturer (Acura) and full-time drivers (Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque). Meyer Shank Racing also is moving up to DPi with an Acura that will have AJ Allmendinger and Juan Pablo Montoya for Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing also returns to IMSA competition with a DPi Cadillac co-driven full time by Renger van der Zande and Formula 1 veteran Kevin Magnussen. Action Express will field two DPi entries with Elliott, Johnson and Pagenaud spread across its two Cadillacs.

Despite the departure of Porsche (which will focus on entering the new premier LMDh class in 2023), the GTLM class still will feature six cars with Corvette Racing, BMW Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Risi Competizione (Ferrari) and WeatherTech Racing, which announced a full-time privateer Porsche entry last week.

Among the notable drivers in GTD will be IndyCar winner Colton Herta (staying in a BMW after running the GTLM class the past two years), Ryan Briscoe (who won the overall last year with Wayne Taylor Racing) in a No. 62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari, former GTLM Porsche teammates and champions Earl Bamber (No. 88 Porsche) and Laurens Vanthoor (No. 9 Porsche).

Click here to view the entry list for the 59th annual Rolex 24.

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

0 Comments

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

DETAILS FOR THE 61ST ROLEX 24How to watch, entry lists, schedules for the IMSA season opener

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN GTPRolex 24 at Daytona kicks off new golden era for sports cars

But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds