The Rolex24@Daytona is one of the all time classics of motorsport; the race for the timepieces has entertained generations of fans, from being part of the World Championship through to the modern day highlight of the Tudor United Sportscar Championship. The race has seen controversy, splits, format changes, triumphs, heartbreak and mergers down its incredible history, all of which make part of the lore of the Rolex24.
The 2015 edition arrives this weekend, with fifty-three entries across four classes, of competition, P, PC, GTLM and GTD.
Tequila Patron ESM bring two brand new Honda HPD ARX 04 prototypes, marking the worldwide debut of the chassis in competition, the team will not compete the entire 2015 TUSCC season, running a double programme with WEC and the NAEC TUSCC events. ESM’s driver pairings are Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and David Heinemeier Hansson with the second car being piloted by Ed Brown, Johannes Van Overbeek and Jon Fogarty.
The DP entrants make up the main part of the Prototype “P” Field. The Corvette DP has for the previous few years been the most competitive of the DP chassis over the recent few seasons, although in 2015, it will be interesting to see how the Ford-Riley chassis, that is only in year two of it’s programme can challenge the dominant Corvette. The Corvette teams are last year’s winners, and series champions, Action Express Racing alongside Wayne Taylor Racing and the Visitflorida.com entrant, previously known as the Spirit of Daytona.
Back to P2, Tracy Krohn’s eponymous team enter a Ligier JS P2, piloted by the familiar duo of Krohn and Nic Jonsson, with highly impressive P2 pilots, Olivier Pla and Alex Brundle joining for Daytona.
Chip Ganassi Racing meanwhile enters two Ford-Riley DP’s. Last year, the Daytona 24 was tough for Ganassi, a switch to the Ford-Riley after several seasons of success with BMW, brought about its own teething issues so it will be interesting to see how Ganassi evolve for this years race, the remainder of the 2014 season saw progress, a win at Sebring then mixed results, so the pace is certainly still available.
Mike Shank Racing (MSR) made the switch away from the Ford-Riley DP at the end of 2014, the team purchasing a Ligier JS P2, which by the way looks incredible. MSR’s driving team comprises of AJ Allmendinger, Ozz Negri Jr, John Pew, and Matt Mcmurry this weekend, an interesting prospect awaits for MSR.
BMW Power Riley DP entrants meanwhile come from Starworks Motorsport and fifty plus racing/ Highway to help racing. Starworks features an all star driver lineup with Rubens Barrichello, Ryan Hunter Reay and Brendon Hartley piloting alongside Tor Graves and Scott Mayer. Whilst Fifty Plus racing, brings FOX TUSCC commentator, Dorsey Schroeder back to the driving seat.
The final Prototype entrant is the Deltawing DWC13, driven by Memo Rojas, having left Ganassi, Katherine Legge, Gabby Chaves and Andy Meyrick. The car seeing its development continue as a Deltawing racing cars entrant over the previous few seasons, it will perhaps be interesting to see what 2015 brings.
Prototype Challenge (PC)
PC remains the same identical Oreca FLM09 platform as used last season, with eight PC entries on the grid, Two from reigning champions CORE Autosport, RSR racing bringing Indycar driver Jack Hawskworth back, alongside Bruno Junqueira for a second season, after impressive outings with the team last season, PR1, performance tech, BAR 1 and JDC/Miller motorsports make the remainder of the PC entries.
Regulation Changes 2015.
An issue, which plagued the series throughout 2014, was a criticism of time spent under full course cautions, particularly towards the end of races. For 2015, the series has addressed this issue with a new full course caution procedure. The default procedure, will allow the pits to stay open during caution, with teams pitting in class order, once all the classes have been cycled, the caution will be lifted.
However in order for the series to attempt to address late race action being interrupted by extended cautions, the series will also have a second procedure, which closes the pits on the commencement of a full course caution, only opening the pits once the caution is lifted, except in the cases of emergency service being required. According to IMSA, this shorter system will be employed within the last thirty minutes of a race, except in cases that require a longer caution as well as if the caution occurs within a fifteen-minute period from the previous restart.
Other changes for 2015, involve P and PC entrants starting ahead of GTLM and GTD entrants, in the event a Prototype is unable to set a competitive time, eliminating the issue of having a prototype having to start from the very rear of the grid, and coming through much slower traffic.
Part Two of the preview takes a look at the GT entries + coverage details.