By Mark Robinson
IMSA Wire Service
The wait is over! It’s time to take the wraps off the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. Action begins next week with the annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 three-day test session at Daytona International Speedway that includes qualifying to set the starting grid for the 62nd running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 27-28.
A jam-packed field is on the entry list for the Roar, which runs Jan. 19-21 on the 3.56-mile road course that encompasses nearly the entire famous oval plus the challenging infield section. The WeatherTech Championship qualifying session for all four classes concludes the weekend’s on-track activities and will stream live at 1:55 p.m. ET Sunday, Jan. 21 on IMSA.com/TVLive.
As usual, there are a multitude of fascinating storylines heading into the Roar, the Rolex 24 and the season in general. Here are some to keep an eye on in the weeks and months ahead:
Blomqvist Chases Rolex 24 Three-Peat: Tom Blomqvist will go for his third straight overall win at the Rolex 24 this year, which would tie him with Helio Castroneves for the record. Blomqvist won in 2022 and ’23 in a Meyer Shank Racing Acura but has joined the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R team for the endurance races this season. Castroneves was also part of the Meyer Shank winners in ’22 and ’23, with the first of his three straight overall wins coming with Wayne Taylor Racing in 2021.
Familiar Faces in New Places: Besides Blomqvist joining the Whelen team, a number of veteran drivers will be wheeling new machinery at the Roar and Rolex 24. After a successful stint at Corvette Racing, Jordan Taylor returns to the family team where he will co-drive the No. 40 WTRAndretti Acura in GTP. Dane Cameron raced last year for Porsche Penske Motorsport in the FIA World Endurance Championship but will run full-time in the team’s No. 7 Porsche 963 in the WeatherTech Championship this season. Alexander Sims shared the GTP championship with Pipo Derani with the Whelen Cadillac team in 2023, but Sims will be in a Corvette Racing with Pratt Miller Motorsports Corvette in the GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) class this season.
Colin Braun was Blomqvist’s teammate at Meyer Shank in ’23 but will race a Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) with CrowdStrike Racing by APR in ’24. Ben Keating won the LMP2 title last season with PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports but has joined United Autosports in LMP2 for 2024. His teammate at PR1, Paul-Loup Chatin, is now in the new AO Racing LMP2. Oliver Jarvis joins Pfaff Motorsports with its new McLaren 720S GT3 Evo in GTD PRO. Corey Lewis is part of the driver lineup for Proton Competition with its customer Ford Mustang GT3 program in GTD. And the entire Paul Miller Racing team, including full-season drivers Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow, have moved to the GTD PRO class after dominating GTD a season ago.
Stars Come out for Rolex 24: A constellation of racing stars from other disciplines have aligned with teams for the Roar and Rolex 24. Past Formula 1 champ Jenson Button will be in a WTRAndretti GTP. Multi-time F1 race winner Felipe Massa is set in LMP2 with Riley. The IndyCar Series is highly represented with Scott Dixon and Alex Palou (Cadillac Racing), Marcus Ericsson and Colton Herta (WTRAndretti) and Josef Newgarden (Penske) in GTP, Scott McLaughlin (Tower Motorsports) and Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist (United) in LMP2. The GTD PRO class includes Alexander Rossi (Pfaff) alongside former IndyCar racer James Hinchcliffe, while the GTD ranks include Romain Grosjean (Iron Lynx) and Devlin DeFrancesco (Forte Racing).
Four Classes, Not Five: With demand high across the board, the WeatherTech Championship no longer includes the Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class, allowing additional entries in the remaining four classes at the Rolex 24 and throughout the season. The entry list includes a total of 59 cars following the withdrawal earlier this week of the previously named No. 91 Kellymoss with Riley entry.
GTP – Year Two: The hybrid-electrified top prototype Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class lived up to the hype when it debuted in 2023. Parity reigned, with six teams and all four manufacturers in contention for the championship heading into the season finale. Now, with a full year of development under their belts, what will the second year of the platform look like? The Roar and the Rolex 24 will provide an early barometer.
Practice Makes Perfect: Five WeatherTech test sessions are scheduled for all Roar entrants on Jan. 19-20, with a short sixth session for GTP cars only on Jan. 21, just ahead of qualifying. In addition to the WeatherTech Championship, the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge will use the weekend for testing and the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge will embark on its second season with a pair of 45-minute races.
WeatherTech Championship Track Records – Daytona International Speedway
GTP: Tom Blomqvist, Acura ARX-06, 1:34.031 / 136.295 mph, January 2023
LMP2: Paul-Loup Chatin, ORECA LMP2, 1:35.532 / 134.154 mph, January 2022
GTD PRO: Laurens Vanthoor, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 1:45.087 / 121.956 mph, January 2022
GTD: Marcos Gomes, Ferrari 488 GT3, 1:44.541 / 122.587 mph, January 2019
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