58th Rolex 24 At Daytona – GTD Team-By-Team

Thursday, Jan 23 1183

 The final installment in our four-part series detailing the field for the 58th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona showcases the largest of the four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes, GT Daytona (GTD).

 
The Rolex 24 At Daytona gets under way later this week on the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway. Practice and qualifying starts today, with the green flag flying on the twice-around-the-clock battle just past 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 25.
 
NBC will have live network coverage of the start of the race beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 25, and also will televise the race finish beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 26 as part of NBC Sports’ complete coverage of the event that includes windows on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
 
IMSA Radio also will have live coverage throughout race weekend on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, with complete race coverage also airing on SiriusXM Radio.
 
Tickets for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona are available on DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com.
 
Now, let’s look at what to expect in GTD:
 
No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports
Porsche 911 GT3 R
Zacharie Robichon/Dennis Olsen/Lars Kern/Patrick Pilet
 
The Canadian Pfaff team adapted well in its debut WeatherTech Championship season in 2019. Robichon won the inaugural WeatherTech Sprint Cup and the team finished third in the overall GTD standings with victories at Lime Rock and Road America.
 
For 2020, the team welcomes a new title partner in Motul and Robichon welcomes a new full-season teammate in Olsen, who co-drove the No. 9 Porsche to the team’s first WeatherTech Championship victory last year at Lime Rock. Olsen also is an Intercontinental GT Challenge champion, while Robichon was the 2018 champion in the IMSA-sanctioned Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama.
 
Lars Kern, a Porsche engineer and production-car record holder at the famed Nurburgring circuit, will complete the team’s driver lineup for the four IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events, while 2015 WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) champion Patrick Pilet will join the team at Daytona.
 
No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team
Lamborghini Huracán GT3
Richard Heistand/Steijn Schothorst/Franck Perera/Albert Costa
 
The No. 11 Grasser Lamborghini team heads into the 2020 Rolex 24 riding a three-race winning streak in IMSA competition. The team won the GTD class at the 2018 Rolex 24 in its lone appearance of the year, then returned and won both the Rolex 24 and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts last year in what were the team’s only 2019 WeatherTech Championship starts.
 
This year, the No. 11 team will take on the four-race IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, while the overall Grasser organization also will field two GTD entries for the full WeatherTech Championship season. The No. 11 will have a revised driver lineup. Perera is back in the No. 11 two years after winning the Rolex 24 with the team.
 
Heistand had a successful 2019 with AIM Vasser Sullivan in WeatherTech Championship/Sprint Cup competition, recording back-to-back victories at Mid-Ohio and Lime Rock. He also won the Bob Akin Award at season’s end as the top sportsman driver in GTD, earning him an automatic bid to compete in the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans.
 
Dutchman Schothorst – who has been successful in Blancpain GT Series competition – completes the team’s Michelin Endurance Cup driver lineup, while Spain’s Costa, a Blancpain GT race winner, fills out the lineup at Daytona.
 
No. 12 AIM Vasser Sullivan
Lexus RC F GT3
Frankie Montecalvo/Townsend Bell/Shane van Gisbergen/Aaron Telitz
 
Montecalvo and Bell are back for a second consecutive full-season effort with AVS. They finished eighth the WeatherTech Championship GTD standings in 2019, with a best result of second in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
 
Bell is a Rolex 24 and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, as well as a 2015 WeatherTech Championship GTD champion, while Montecalvo has 10 career IMSA podium finishes. Wisconsin native Telitz is a standout Indy Lights competitor and the 2016 Pro Mazda champion. He also was part of AVS’ driver lineup for all four IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events in 2019.
 
New Zealand’s van Gisbergen is a superstar in Australian Supercars and won both the Supercars championship and the Blancpain GT Series endurance cup in 2015. This will be the fifth Rolex 24 appearance for “The Giz,” but his first since 2017. His best result in the event was a runner-up GTD result in 2015.
 
No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan
Lexus RC F GT3
Parker Chase/Jack Hawksworth/Michael De Quesada/Kyle Busch
 
The No. 14 squad will have a revised driver lineup in 2020 after a successful, two-win debut season in GTD last year. Hawksworth is back aboard a Lexus RC F GT3 machine for the fourth straight year and welcomes a new season-long co-driver in Chase, an 18-year-old Texan who won the 2018 World Challenge SprintX Pro/Am championship.
 
All eyes will be on the No. 14 throughout the weekend, with two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Busch participating in his first Rolex 24. This will be Busch’s first race since clinching the NASCAR Cup Series title for the second time last November at Homestead-Miami Speedway. De Quesada also brings winning experience to the lineup. He won the GTD class in the 2017 Rolex 24.
 
No. 16 Wright Motorsports
Porsche 911 GT3 R
Ryan Hardwick/Patrick Long/Anthony Imperato/Klaus Bachler
 
Hardwick, the 2018 Lamborghini Super Trofeo Pro/Am world champion, moves into new machinery in 2020 after driving the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini in the 2019 WeatherTech Championship. He will be teamed with Long, a longtime Porsche factory racer who’s won everywhere from Le Mans to Daytona to Sebring and many points in between.
 
Imperato, who has had a long association with Wright Motorsports in various series including the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, is making his Rolex 24 debut with the team. He made two WeatherTech Championship starts with the team last year at Lime Rock and Road America.
 
Austrian Bachler brings FIA World Endurance Championship and Porsche Supercup experience to the team. He is competing in his fifth Rolex 24.
 
No. 19 GEAR Racing powered by GRT Grasser
Lamborghini Huracán GT3
Christina Nielsen/Katherine Legge/Tati Calderon/Rahel Frey
 
Two-time WeatherTech Championship GTD champion Nielsen and Legge – a four-time WeatherTech Championship race winner – are paired together for the full 2020 season with the new GEAR team after teaming up for selected rounds last year with Heinricher Racing with Meyer Shank. The No. 19 is part of a three-car effort run by two-time and defending Rolex 24 winners GRT Grasser Racing Team.
 
Legge and Nielsen will welcome a pair of newcomers to their Rolex 24 driver lineup in Colombian Calderon and Swiss driver, Frey. Calderon came up through the European open-wheel ranks and is an Alfa Romeo F1 test driver participating in her first Rolex 24. Frey has raced in DTM, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Bathurst 12 Hours and was added to the lineup in place of Bia Figueiredo, who revealed earlier this week that she is pregnant. This also will be Frey’s first Rolex 24.
 
No. 23 Heart of Racing Team
Aston Martin Vantage GT3
Roman De Angelis/Alex Riberas/Ian James/Nicki Thiim
 
The Heart of Racing program returns to the WeatherTech Championship for the first time since 2016 with a full-season program fielding the No. 23 Aston Martin. Canadian teenager De Angelis, who won both the GT3 Cup Challenge USA and Canada championships in 2019, moves into full-time WeatherTech Championship competition.
 
He finished third in his lone WeatherTech Championship appearance to date, the 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona. De Angelis will be paired for the full season with Aston Martin factory driver Riberas, whose two career WeatherTech Championship victories include a Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring triumph in 2015.
 
Riberas also was part of Heart of Racing’s last full-time WeatherTech Championship effort in 2016 alongside James, who serves as team manager for the program and also will drive in Michelin Endurance Cup rounds. Thiim, another Aston Martin factory driver – an FIA WEC champion and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner – fills out the Daytona lineup.
 
No. 44 GRT Magnus
Lamborghini Huracán GT3
John Potter/Andy Lally/Spencer Pumpelly/Marco Mapelli
 
After fielding his own program for several years, Potter has enlisted the powerhouse GRT to support the No. 44 Magnus Lamborghini in 2020. Potter – a two-time Rolex 24 At Daytona winner – continues for the full GTD season alongside longtime co-driver Lally, the winningest active driver in the Rolex 24 with five class wins in the twice-around-the-clock classic.
 
Pumpelly is a two-time Rolex 24 winner and again completes the team’s Michelin Endurance Cup in addition to competing full time in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Team Hardpoint. Mapelli is a Lamborghini factory driver competing in his third Rolex 24 and second straight with Magnus.
 
No. 47 Precision Performance Motorsports
Lamborghini Huracán GT3
Brandon Gdovic/Eric Lux/Mark Kvamme/Jonathan Hoggard
 
The North Carolina-based PPM team will compete in the Rolex 24 and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in 2020. At Daytona, the team’s lineup includes Gdovic, who won both the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America AM title and the Super Trofeo Gallardo world championship in 2015 and has competed in various NASCAR divisions.
 
Kvamme and Lux are both longtime IMSA racers. Lux has six IMSA premier series victories and Kvamme is a three-time WeatherTech Championship podium finisher competing in his eighth Rolex 24 this year. Nineteen-year-old Hoggard is the Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner who also earned the Aston Martin Autosport Young Driver of the Year in 2019 from the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC).
 
No. 48 Paul Miller Racing
Lamborghini Huracán GT3
Madison Snow/Bryan Sellers/Corey Lewis/Andrea Caldarelli
 
The 2018 GTD championship-winning band has been put back together, as Snow has rejoined Sellers as full-time co-drivers of the No. 48 Lamborghini. Snow is a two-time Motul Petit Le Mans winner and won the 2018 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring alongside Sellers and Lewis. Sellers owns 10 IMSA premier series victories, while Lewis has won three WeatherTech Championship races.
 
They’ll go for their first Rolex 24 At Daytona victory alongside Italian racer Caldarelli, who returns for his fourth consecutive Daytona with the team. He won last year’s Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe title and also has had success in Japan’s Super GT competition.
 
No. 54 Black Swan Racing
Porsche 911 GT3 R
Tim Pappas/Jeroen Bleekemolen/Sven Muller/Trenton Estep
 
Black Swan owner/driver Pappas has been reunited with Dutchman Bleekemolen – a long-time WeatherTech Championship and race winner now competing full time in the 2019-20 FIA WEC – for the first time since 2012. Pappas was injured in a crash last year in practice for the Bathurst 12 Hours that forced him to miss a majority of the 2019 season, but he successfully returned to competition in November’s Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring International Raceway with a third-place showing.
 
German Porsche factory driver Muller – a 2016 Porsche Supercup champion – has joined the No. 54 lineup alongside Estep, the 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama. Estep is making his WeatherTech Championship debut in the Rolex 24.
 
No. 57 Heinricher Racing with MSR Curb-Agajanian
Acura NSX GT3
Alvaro Parente/Misha Goikhberg/Trent Hindman/AJ Allmendinger
 
The No. 57 Acura will have a brand-new driver lineup for 2020 led by season-long WeatherTech Championship teammates Parente and Goikhberg. Portuguese racer Parente is a past World Challenge champion and winner of the Bathurst 12 Hours with one career WeatherTech Championship GTD victory.
 
Goikhberg is moving to GTD competition after spending the past several seasons in the WeatherTech Championship prototype ranks. He owns three career WeatherTech Championship wins, including a Rolex 24 Prototype Challenge (PC) class victory in 2016.
 
Hindman will race the full IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup season with the No. 57 team in 2020 after taking the 2019 WeatherTech Championship GTD title last year with Mario Farnbacher in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura. Allmendinger – a veteran of Champ Car and NASCAR who claimed an overall Rolex 24 victory in 2012 with the Shank team – returns for his 14th Rolex 24 appearance.
 
No. 63 Scuderia Corsa
Ferrari 488 GT3
Cooper MacNeil/Toni Vilander/Jeff Westphal/Alessandro Balzan
 
MacNeil and Vilander return in the No. 63 WeatherTech Ferrari for their second full season of WeatherTech Championship competition after placing fifth in the GTD standings last year. They’ll be joined by Westphal – who won last year’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport championship – and two-time WeatherTech Championship GTD champion, Balzan.
 
MacNeil is pulling double duty this weekend at Daytona, also competing in the season-opening doubleheader for Ferrari Challenge North America. He won both the 2018 and 2019 Ferrari Challenge titles. Vilander has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a Ferrari factory driver.
 
All drivers are looking to add Rolex 24 winners’ watches to their already impressive résumés.
 
No. 74 Riley Motorsports
Mercedes-AMG GT3
Lawson Aschenbach/Gar Robinson/Ben Keating/Felipe Fraga
 
Aschenbach and Robinson were among the first to confirm their plans to compete in the full 2020 WeatherTech Championship with the Riley team, which they did last year at the VIRginia International Raceway event in August. Last year, they focused on the WeatherTech Sprint Cup.
 
Robinson, a Trans Am champion, and seven-time professional sports car racing champion Aschenbach will be joined at the Rolex 24 by Keating and Fraga, who won the 2019 IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. In fact, Keating has won the Michelin Endurance Cup in the GTD class each of the past three years.
 
The Texan is doing double duty at Daytona this year, also competing in the LMP2 class aboard the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA. He’s looking for his second Rolex 24 victory, while the other three are aiming for their first this weekend.
 
No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian
Acura NSX GT3
Matt McMurry/Mario Farnbacher/Shinya Michimi/Jules Gounon
 
The 2019 WeatherTech Championship GTD champion team has a new lineup in 2020. Farnbacher, who won last year’s title with Trent Hindman, now will share the No. 86 entry with McMurry, who won the WeatherTech Championship LMP2 title last year with PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports.
 
They welcome Japanese-American driver Michimi, who brings substantial Lamborghini Super Trofeo experience. He made his WeatherTech Championship debut last year at Motul Petit Le Mans.
 
Gounon, meanwhile, is back for his second Rolex 24 appearance and first since 2017. He has been a factory driver for Bentley since 2018 with a ADAC GT Masters championship title in 2016 and a 2017 victory in the Spa 24 Hours.
 
No. 88 WRT Speedstar Audi Sport
Audi R8 LMS GT3
Mirko Bortolotti/Rolf Ineichen/Daniel Morad/Dries Vanthoor
 
The Canada-based WRT Speedstar program is back for its second straight Rolex 24 after finishing third on its debut last year. The team’s driver lineup includes Bortolotti and Ineichen, who have won the GTD class in the Rolex 24 each of the past two years, as well as last year’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
 
Morad is a Rolex 24 winner also, taking the GTD victory in 2017. Vanthoor, meanwhile, is the younger brother of 2019 WeatherTech Championship GTLM champion Laurens Vanthoor. He won the GTE Am class in the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans and also has victories in the 2018 Bathurst 12 Hours and the 2019 Nurburgring 24 Hours.
 
No. 96 Turner Motorsport
BMW M6 GT3
Robby Foley/Bill Auberlen/Dillon Machavern/Jens Klingmann
 
Foley and Auberlen are reunited for the full 2020 WeatherTech Championship GTD season. Last year, they finished second in the GTD championship standings with two victories, the last of which was the 60th of Auberlen’s IMSA career. That moved him into a tie with Scott Pruett for most all-time IMSA wins and the drive for 61 begins this weekend.
 
Auberlen and Foley will be sharing the car with Machavern, who won the 2017 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport championship, as well as German racer Klingmann, who owns three previous WeatherTech Championship victories. Auberlen is the only one of the Turner quartet with a previous Rolex 24 victory. He actually has two class victories, coming back in 1997 and 1998.
 
No. 98 Aston Martin Racing
Aston Martin Vantage GT3
Pedro Lamy/Ross Gunn/Mat Lauda/Andrew Watson
 
The factory Aston Martin team has a trio of longtime factory drivers – Lamy, Gunn and Lauda – with Aston Martin Racing junior driver Watson completing the lineup. Watson was named as a late stand-in for Canadian Paul Dalla Lana, who had planned to compete in the race but was injured in a skiing accident just prior to the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
 
Lamy brings a vast amount of experience, including Formula 1 and sports car competition, while Lauda is the son of late F1 legend Niki Lauda. Gunn is the 2015 British GT Championship GT4 champion, while Watson has a wealth of racing experience in the FIA WEC and other races, including the Bathurst 12 Hour.
 
The No. 98 and the No. 23 teams both will be looking to give Aston Martin its first Rolex 24 victory.
Adam Sinclair

Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway almost 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.  

Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.

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