Adam Sinclair

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.

Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network. 

Contact Adam: Email  

  

 

Team owner Wayne Taylor, forced to shuffle the deck this year when it came to assembling a driver lineup for the 58th Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, came up with a full house of talent. The result: a successful defense of last year’s championship and a third victory in the last four years in North America’s premier sports car race at Daytona International Speedway.

 

With the exit of his son Jordan to another team and the absence of Formula 1 legend Fernando Alonso, who joined the team only for last year’s Rolex 24, Taylor landed former and current IndyCar Series stars Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon to join returnees Kamui Kobayashi and Renger van der Zande. The foursome co-drove the increasingly iconic No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi to the victory, giving Taylor his fourth Rolex 24 championship as an owner; Taylor also co-drove to victory twice, during his driving days. Dixon, a former Indianapolis 500 champion, came home a Rolex 24 champion for the third time.

 

Kobayashi brought the Cadillac home Sunday afternoon with a final two-and-a-half-hour stint. The team overcame a stutter-step just after 8:15 a.m., with nearly five-and-a-half hours remaining, Briscoe ran a red light at the pit road exit; the penalty was a stop-and-go the next time around, plus 60 seconds. The lead was lost to the No. 5 Cadillac DPi driven by Loic Duval. At 9:45 a.m., during a round of pit stops with Briscoe back at the wheel, the No. 10 retook the lead for good.

 

“Just keeping it on the track [was the key],” Briscoe said. “Kamui did a fantastic job the last two-and-a-half hours. We knew the car was fast. We were just relieved there were no yellows at the end so we could maintain the lead. Just so proud of all these guys. Wayne just puts together this program and they are always a car that can win the Rolex 24. Amazing to be a part of it. Whew! We did it.”

 

As expected, with a slightly smaller field (38 cars) compared to some years, the race pace was relentless and caution periods (33 laps total) were minimal. A total of 833 laps were run on the 3.56-mile road course, equating to 2,965 miles – both race records. The distance traveled by the three cars who finished on the lead lap was roughly the equivalent to a Daytona Beach-Napa Valley cross-country road trip.

 

Kobayashi crossed the finish line 1 minute, 05.426 seconds ahead of the pole-sitting No. 77 Mazda DPi co-driven by Oliver Jarvis, Tristan Nunez and Olivier Pla. The No. 5 Cadillac finished third, co-driven by Duval, Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais.

 

“As everybody knows this is a very difficult race to win,” said Taylor, a native of South Africa and a longtime Orlando area resident. “This year was probably more difficult than any other year. We had a [lower] car count, which meant there was not going to be a whole lot of yellows so pretty much everybody was running flat-out the entire time, working really hard.

 

“Truly, the team was really outstanding. These drivers … can’t say enough about them. They’re like superstars [but] there are no egos. This is a team event and everybody is focusing on the big picture and that’s to win for everybody.”

In addition to capturing the overall championship, Taylor’s team also topped the headlining Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class. Three other classes also competed simultaneously – Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD).

The No. 81 ORECA co-driven by Colin Braun, Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley and Harrison Newey won the LMP2 title. GTLM was won by John Edwards, Augusto Farfus, Chaz Mostert and Jesse Krohn in the No. 24 BMW M8. And in GTD, Madison Snow, Bryan Sellers, Corey Lewis and Andrea Caldarelli drove the No. 48 Audi R8 to victory.

The Rolex 24 – the season-opening race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season – once again attracted an “all-star” field featuring six former Indianapolis 500 champions plus the two-time and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Busch. Competing in the Rolex 24 for the first time, Busch co-drove the No. 14 Lexus RC F with Jack Hawksworth, Michael De Quesada and Parker Chase.

 

Busch nonetheless looked like a sports car veteran at times, doing both double and triple stints to help push the No. 14 to a respectable ninth-place finish in the production-based GTD class. That was no small task. His team’s chances for a class victory took a double hit this weekend: first, when the team didn’t qualify on Thursday because of an engine change, resulting in a rear-of-the-field start; then, when a brake change caused a crippling 10-minute pit stop just before 4:30 a.m., nearly 15 hours into the twice-around-the-clock race.

“We just didn’t have the long-run pace,” Busch said. “Our tires would [wear] and overall it was a real handful there late in runs. That’s kind of where we lost ground. But getting that first 24-hour go was pretty cool so we will see what happens [in the future].”

Auto racing resumes Feb. 8-16 at Daytona International Speedway, with DAYTONA Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth, a nine-day slate of NASCAR racing capped by the 62nd annual DAYTONA 500 – “The Great American Race” – on Sunday, Feb. 16.

Tickets for all Daytona International Speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway's mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.

 

The 2019 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires champion, Kyle Kirkwood, will join the Andretti Autosport Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires team for the 2020 season. The rookie stand-out will drive the No. 28 car for the reigning championship team.

“We are very excited about the addition of Kyle to our Indy Lights program,” said Michael Andretti, CEO and Chairman, Andretti Autosport. “We’ve followed Kyle’s career from when he started in 2018 with the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and have been impressed with his success in every race that led to his Indy Pro 2000 Championship last year. As a championship-caliber team, Kyle displays the desire and talent that we look for in our drivers and are excited to see him hit the track for the 2020 Indy Lights season.”

A native of Jupiter, Florida, Kirkwood started his Road to Indy journey in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship in 2018, where he claimed 12 wins in 14 races [a series record tied with J.R. Hildebrand] and stood on the podium 13 times. In dominating fashion, Kirkwood captured the championship title, earning a scholarship to compete in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship where he won nine races in 2019 in his fight for the series title.

“I am ecstatic that I can now say I am competing in Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport this season,” said Kirkwood. “They have established a winning program in Indy Lights and we plan on carrying that reputation throughout 2020.  We are a fantastic match for each other and our Sebring test in December proved that.”

Without a family background in racing, Kirkwood has earned four championships in three years [F4 United States Championship/’17, USF2000 Championship/’18, F3 United States Championship/’18, and Indy Pro 2000 Championship/’19]. Since 2017, the 21-year old has racked up 47 wins and 55 podiums in 71 starts.

Kirkwood will take to the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, for the Indy Lights season opener March 13 – 15.

For more information, visit AndrettiAutosport.com. 

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and North America’s sanctioning body for endurance racing, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), have today announced that agreement has been reached for a common future with convergence of the top categories of endurance racing.
 
On the occasion of the 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona, the two sanctioning bodies unveiled the guiding principle for this platform – the introduction as the top category of competition of LMDh, which will be eligible for both the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This joint platform responds to the wishes of numerous manufacturers.
 
The chance for automotive manufacturers to compete with the same car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, at SuperSebring or at Spa-Francorchamps, at the Motul Petit Le Mans or even Silverstone, will soon become a reality.
 
The ACO and IMSA have together established the basis for joint regulations to govern the new LMDh category. The objective is that, from September 2021 in the FIA WEC and from January 2022 in the WeatherTech Championship, manufacturers will be able to enter the top category and compete in the two leading championships in endurance racing with this new model of car, LMDh.
 
The two sanctioning bodies were inspired by elements from each of their respective regulations, namely from the ACO’s Le Mans Hypercar and those in preparation by IMSA for the DPi 2.0.
 
The result of this convergence, the LMDh car will be:
 
  • Based on a new chassis common to both ACO and IMSA, using elements of the Le Mans Hypercar and LMP2 chassis, and built by the four current LMP2 manufacturers: Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic and Oreca. This chassis will also be used for the new generation LMP2.
  • The car will use a common hybrid KERS system, on the rear axle.
  • Its silhouette and design will be modifiable, developed according to the brand or style of the manufacturer which will provide the engine power for the car
 
More technical details for the car will be revealed in March at SuperSebring, in a presentation from the ACO and IMSA Technical Departments.
 
In the future the top category of endurance racing will include both LMDh and Le Mans Hypercar. A balance of performance system will ensure fair competition. 
 
Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO: “This announcement today is the crucial starting point for a joint endurance racing future, supported by both the ACO and IMSA. The platform represents the convergence achieved by both organisations which is a great success story for endurance racing.  A manufacturer will soon be able to compete in the top category of two championships, the FIA WEC and the WeatherTech Championship. We can’t emphasise enough, as it’s exceptional, how many opportunities this long-term sporting and marketing vision will open up.”
 
Jim France, IMSA Chairman: “When my father, Bill France Sr., brought the first Daytona Continental sports car race here to Daytona International Speedway back in 1962, he wanted to bring together sports car drivers, teams and manufacturers from around the world. With the ACO, IMSA and manufacturers aligned, today’s announcement proudly takes my father’s vision to the next level.”
 
Gérard Neveu, CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship: “The big winner today is endurance racing as the door is now opened to many additional competitors to compete at the highest level on both sides of the Atlantic with the same car. The two sanctioning bodies should be congratulated for their vision and spirit of collaboration. Le Mans Hypercars and the new LMDh cars racing together at Le Mans or Daytona will be an incredibly exciting prospect for endurance fans across the world.”
 
John Doonan, IMSA President: “On the eve of IMSA’s 51st season of competition, future race fans will regard today as one of the most significant of all time for IMSA, the ACO and the world of sports car racing. Providing a common platform for top-level prototype racing globally has been a goal for the sanctioning bodies, our manufacturers – and most importantly, sports car racing fans everywhere – for many years, and we are proud to say the opportunity has finally arrived. We are grateful for the collaboration with our partners at the ACO and the open dialogue with our manufacturer partners that led us to today’s introduction of the LMDh platform.”
 
The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced the addition of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as a partner in its IMSA Green Racing program. The DOE joins existing program partners – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and SAE International.
 
This extension further helps IMSA pursue Green Racing protocols and its own IMSA Green program. These programs keep its racing relevant for manufacturers and marketing partners by using proactive environmental responsibility. The government partnerships allow IMSA to collaborate with official partners such as Michelin and VP Racing Fuels to advance these important initiatives.
 
“IMSA is thrilled to extend its partnership with the DOE as part of the IMSA Green program,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “Their addition to our existing relationships with the EPA and SAE International show the commitment of these agencies in working with us in the consistently changing mobility landscape. These affiliations prove motorsports, and in particular IMSA, can be innovative in this space while remaining attractive to our stakeholders and fans.”
 
“Working with IMSA provides a great opportunity to showcase cutting-edge technologies for clean and efficient vehicles,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R Simmons. “The past association between IMSA and DOE has been critical to the development and implementation of this program and we welcome the renewal of this relationship.”
 
IMSA is focused on identifying ways to return to the Green Challenge Championship status as it defined in the SAE J2880 Green Racing protocols which were first published in 2008 and revised in 2014. Currently the sanctioning body operates at the Green Racing Series level.
Riley Motorsports knows endurance racing.
 
Not only has the team won three consecutive IMSA Michelin Endurance Cups from 2017 – 2019 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but they are now back-to-back endurance race winners in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
 
Following the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona International Speedway to open the season, the No. 35 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Dylan Murry, Jim Cox and Jeroen Bleekemolen crossed the finish line first to claim the Grand Sport (GS) victory. The same trio of drivers also won last summer’s four-hour race at Watkins Glen International – and Murry and Cox also won November’s four-hour Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring.
 
“We’re petitioning IMSA to make all races four hours now,” said Cox.
 
However, the Mercedes-AMG didn’t cross the finish line at normal race pace. The yellow flag came out with 15 minutes left on the clock after Scott Maxwell’s No. 19 Ford Mustang GT4 slid across the grass in the bus stop and rear-first into the tire barrier. The car flipped upside down after the incident, but Maxwell was not injured.
 
The win for the Riley Motorsports trio is the second of their Pilot Challenge careers. The first was that race at Watkins Glen.
 
“I think the whole Riley team has done well with pit stop strategy and preparation,” said Bleekemolen, who has been a part of the team for each of the endurance accomplishments. “That’s definitely a big part of it, and then obviously Jim and Dylan also drove well, so it’s the whole thing together. I’ve ran a lot with this team, also in the [Rolex] 24, and we’ve always been leading the races here, sometimes even most of the race just because they have a good car, they know how to do it.”
 
Murry held a decent gap over another Mercedes-AMG, the No. 57 of Philip Ellis for Winward Racing before the caution came out, but that wasn’t always the case. Stalking from second place, Ellis gained on Murry and wound up leading two laps as the final pit-stop sequence occurred. However, Riley Motorsports’ work in the pits cycled Murry back into the lead for the remainder of the race.
 
“To be able to drive at Daytona is one thing, to be able to win here is an entirely different level, different world,” said Murry. “I can’t describe the emotions I’m going through right now. My dad has raced here, I grew up coming to this 24-hour race all my life watching my dad race, go around, and I finally get to stand on victory lane. It’s touching and special to me. I always said if I could win one race it would be Daytona and it’s come true and it’s exciting.”
 
Ellis and co-driver Bryce Ward held on for the runner-up finish while their sister car, the No. 4 shared by Indy Dontje and Russell Ward, made it a podium sweep for the German manufacturer.
 
The BMW Endurance Challenge race broadcast will air on NBCSN at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, February 6. It is also available on-demand on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
 
Road Shagger Racing Audi Clinches Memorable TCR Victory
While the race anticlimactically ended under caution, the thrill and excitement from Gavin Ernstone was as palpable as ever as he watched the No. 61 Road Shagger Racing Audi RS3 LMS come to the checkered flag.
 
Watching his co-driver, Jon Morley, cross the finish line first among the TCR class cars, Ernstone stood on the pit wall reveling in the fact they had just won on the 3.56-mile circuit at the World Center of Racing.
 
While they’ve experienced victory once before (at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca last year) during the team’s inaugural season, it’s clear this one will be long remembered.
 
“It was extremely emotional for me,” said Ernstone. “Daytona is legendary all around the world. We can say we won at Daytona. I was sobbing like a baby. I couldn’t watch the last 45 minutes of the race. (It was certainly) emotional for me, I’m sure for Jon too, it was huge and one of the biggest days of my life for sure.”
 
The No. 61 Audi started 11th on the grid, but slowly worked its way through the field. During the final pit stop of the race, Morley came within inches of the No. 32 Speed Syndicate Motorsports Audi of Mikey Taylor. In similar fashion to the GS class winners, a clutch pit stop kept the Road Shagger machine a fraction ahead of Taylor as the two cars left pit lane nose-to-tail, but Morley kept Taylor’s Audi at bay.
 
Taylor and co-driver William Tally finished second, while Stephen Simpson and Michael Johnson in the No. 54 machine for JDC-Miller Motorsports finished third, making it an all-Audi podium.
 
“I settled in following three other Audis all with incredible drivers in them,” said Morley. “We were helping each other, drafting, I could hang with them, I’d catch them every once and awhile. It didn’t feel like I had a distinct advantage on them, but there was a lot of time left. If I stuck with them, I knew my crew would get me by them and they did."
 
The second race of the 2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season takes place at Sebring International Raceway during the SuperSebring weekend on March 18 – 21. The two-hour Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 goes green on Thursday, March 19 at 3:50 p.m. ET. That race is available live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. Tickets can be purchased at SebringRaceway.com.
 

 

An impressive, strategic lap in mixed conditions rewarded Kuno Wittmer and the AWA team with the first IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge pole position of 2020.
 
In his first showing with AWA, the Quebecker posted a fastest lap of one minute, 52.951 seconds (113.465 mph) in the No. 13 McLaren GT4 for the team’s first Motul Pole Award since joining the series in 2017.
 
“It’s awesome, it’s hats off to the AWA team and McLaren and everyone involved,” said Wittmer. “This deal came together quite late and now it’s time to get the job done with (co-driver) Orey (Fidani) behind the wheel and myself tomorrow. We’ve got a pretty good strategy lined up.”
 
With a stacked 33-car Grand Sport (GS) class field, Wittmer described how the perfect lap came to be with perfect timing.
 
“The lap was not easy,” Wittmer said. “We saw the times clicking off and who was putting pace down. It was all about getting that gap and not getting hooked up with the slower traffic coming out of pit lane. The team did a great job. They guided me the right way. They told me when to go, it was the perfect amount of fuel in the car, the perfect tire pressure and you can’t do more than that. You just put the lap down.”
 
Carbahn Motorsports with Peregrine Racing will kickoff their quest for back-to-back GS championships from outside the front row, with Jeff Westphal and Tyler McQuarrie returning to the lineup in the No. 39 Audi R8 GT4. Starting third will be Winward Racing’s No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Indy Dontje and Russell Ward.
 
The BMW Endurance Challenge begins at 1 p.m. ET on Friday, January 24 and can be streamed live exclusively in the United States on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. International viewers can stream the race on IMSA.tv and the IMSA App. IMSA Radio also has live coverage on RadioLeMans.com. The race will be broadcast on NBCSN on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 1 p.m. ET.
Lewis Delivers Alfa Romeo’s First Pilot Challenge Pole Award
Florida’s own Tim Lewis made Pilot Challenge history on Thursday by earning the first every Motul Pole Award for Alfa Romeo.
 
Piloting the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta in the TCR class, the Boca Raton native edged out the rest of the 18-car field with a qualifying time of 1:59.296 (107.430 mph). For the second consecutive year in this car, Lewis will be co-driving with Roy Block.
 
In the team’s initial season in TCR, the team’s only top-five finish came at the penultimate round in WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, coming home in fourth.
 
“It was a trying offseason, a lot of development was put into the car after a difficult 2019 season,” said Lewis. “We’re really proud to have the local Alfa Romeo of Daytona on the car and we’re looking forward to a good race tomorrow.
 
“To be honest, we were pretty off in the wet and it was mixed conditions. We went out in the 15-minute session before qualifying and it was drying up. I knew we needed to go to dry’s obviously and the track dried up just enough in one lane to get a good lap in.”
 
Hot on their tails with the second-best lap will be the No. 21 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N of Harry Gottsacker and 2019 TCR co-champion Mark Wilkins. Starting third in its IMSA debut will be Team Premat’s No. 18 Audi RS3 LMS, qualified by rookie Stephen Vajda and co-driven by Alexandre Premat.
 
 

 

A year ago, Oliver Jarvis broke a 36-year-old record on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway circuit to win the Motul Pole Award for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Jarvis didn’t quite break his own track record of one minute, 33.685 seconds on Thursday afternoon in qualifying for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona. But he did win his second consecutive Motul Pole Award in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT-24P Daytona Prototype international (DPi) machine and once again will roll off the grid at the head of the field on Saturday afternoon when the twice-around-the-clock classic gets under way at 1:30 p.m. ET.
 
The Rolex 24 At Daytona gets under way on Saturday, Jan. 25 on the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway. NBC will have live network coverage of the start of the race beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday 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 (XM 202, Sirius 216, Online 972).
 
Jarvis posted a best lap of 1:33.711 (136.760 mph) eight minutes into what was supposed to be a 15-minute qualifying session to take the provisional pole. Four minutes later, with Jarvis still holding the top spot, Ricky Taylor spun and crashed the No. 7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi machine in the bus stop.
The checkered flag wave shortly thereafter Taylor’s incident, with Jarvis on the pole for the second straight year. It was the British driver’s fourth career IMSA pole.
 
“What a car [the team] just gave me,” said Jarvis, who is co-driving the No. 77 with Tristan Nunez and Olivier Pla. “I cannot say ‘Thank you’ enough. This year feels different. This year feels business-like. Last year, there was a huge amount of emotion. It was the first time. This year, it feels like we came in to do a job and this is just a small part of what we want to achieve this weekend.”
 
Jarvis will share the front row with reigning WeatherTech Championship DPi champion Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05. Montoya – a three-time overall Rolex 24 winner – posted a best lap of 1:34.154 in the car he is sharing with his 2019 DPi co-champion, Dane Cameron, and 2019 Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud.
 
Third on the grid went to Jonathan Bomarito in the other Mazda Team Joest entry. Bomarito turned in a best time of 1:34.169 (136.095 mph) in the No. 55 DPi that he is co-driving this weekend with Harry Tincknell and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
 
Brazilian Felipe Nasr, the 2018 WeatherTech Championship Prototype champion, qualified fourth in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R at 1:34.294 (135.915 mph) and Ryan Briscoe rounded out the top five in the 2019 Rolex 24-winning No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. Briscoe’s best qualifying lap was a 1:34.442 (135.702 mph).
Keating Drives No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA to LMP2 Pole
Texan Ben Keating claimed the second Motul Pole Award of his 10-year IMSA career and his first LMP2 pole with a best lap of 1:37.446 (131.519 mph) aboard the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA.
 
He’s pulling double duty this weekend, driving in both the LMP2 class in the No. 52 machine and the GT Daytona (GTD) class in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3. Keating will have to complete at least four-and-a-half hours in each car and can’t drive more than four hours in any six-hour period.
 
Keating, who is sharing the No. 52 with Nick Boulle, Gabriel Aubry and Simon Trummer and the No. 74 with Gar Robinson, Lawson Aschenbach and Felipe Fraga, was pleased to earn the Motul Pole Award. He also believes the starting position offers significant benefits.
 
“I don’t feel like qualifying is a huge deal in a 24-hour race like this, but for the P2 class, it does give a big advantage,” Keating said. “At the beginning of the race, the GTLM cars are right behind us. They’re a little bit heavier and they get heat in their tires and warm up a little bit quicker. I feel like it’s one of their main objectives to pass as many of the P2 cars to separate themselves from the cars behind them.
 
“Being in front of the P2 class will give me a little bit more room to warm up my tires and get going. I’m very excited about it.”
 
Henrik Hedman qualified second at 1:37.728 (131.139 mph) in the No. 81 ORECA for the DragonSpeed USA team, which won the LMP2 class in last year’s Rolex 24. Hedman’s co-drivers this weekend are Ben Hanley, Colin Braun and Harrison Newey.
 
John Farano will start third in the LMP2 class after a best qualifying lap of 1:39.275 (129.095 mph) in the No. 8 Tower Motorsport by Starworks ORECA. He’ll go into battle this weekend with a trio of co-drivers that all have won at least one 24 Hours of Le Mans – Ryan Dalziel, David Heinemeier Hansson and Nicolas Lapierre. Dalziel also scored an overall Rolex 24 victory back in 2010.

 

In track record pace, Nick Tandy put the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19 on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) pole for the 58th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. 
 
Tandy’s time of one minute, 42.207 (125.392 mph) bettered his own track record set a year ago. And it also marked the fourth time (2013, 2016, 2019, 2020) that Tandy has captured the pole for the WeatherTech Championship season opener, which ties Scott Pruett for the most Rolex 24 pole wins by a driver.
 
“It’s a great start to the year in our defense of the championship,” Tandy said. “I’ve got some new teammates this year, so it’s great to share it with those guys. 
 
“A new car, and it all starts with a one-two, so I can’t be happier.”
 
As Tandy referenced, the sister No. 912 Porsche GT Team car driven by Laurens Vanthoor completed the front row with a lap of 1:42.256 (125.332 mph).
 
While the Porsches swept the front row, the Corvette C8.Rs did the same for the second row. Antonio Garcia qualified the No. 3 Corvette Racing in third with a time of 1:42.545 (124.979 mph) and the No. 4 entry driven by Tommy Milner was fourth in 1:42.801 (124.668).
 
The Rolex 24 At Daytona gets underway on Saturday, Jan. 25, on the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway. NBC has live network coverage of the start of the race beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. The network will have 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 (XM 202, Sirius 216, Online 972).Tickets for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona are available on DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com.
Plaid on Pole: Pfaff Porsche Earns Motul Pole Award in GTD One Year after WeatherTech Championship Debut
The new partnership between Pfaff Motorsports and Motul could not be off to a better start.
 
In fitting fashion on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, the No. 9 Pfaff Porsche 911 GT3 R claimed the first Motul Pole Award of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) season for the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona.
 
Motul, already the “Official Motor Oil” of IMSA, struck up a partnership with the Canadian-based team in December following its first season in IMSA’s top-tier series.
 
Behind the wheel of the “Plaid Porsche” was Zacharie Robichon, whose time of one minute, 45.237 seconds (121.798 MPH), bested the previous track record by .02 seconds set in 2019 by Marco Gomes. The last time Porsche swept both GT pole positions was at VIRginia International Raceway in 2019, with both Tandy and Robichon the successors again in their respective classes.
 
“Last year, we had a couple of pole positions and that was the beginning of the relationship with Motul,” said Robichon. “As our first official race with them, it was nice to embrace it this way. I think there’s no better way to get the relationship started, but obviously it’s just the beginning and we’re looking forward to everything that comes next.”
 
In addition to two previous Motul Pole Awards last season, Robichon scored two victories with Pfaff in 2019 and was also crowned the inaugural WeatherTech Sprint Cup champion.
 
The car had been quick all day at the World Center of Racing on Thursday, with the No. 9 Porsche second on the charts in both of the day’s two practice sessions. Robichon will be co-driving in this weekend’s twice-around-the-clock event with Dennis Olsen, Lars Kern and Patrick Pilet.
 
While it won’t be hard to spot the plaid on track, it won’t be hard to spot the drivers in the paddock or in the pits as well. In addition to the new sponsorship, Pfaff is sporting new, eye-catching firesuits with bright red plaid from the waist up and dark grey solid print from the waist down.
“It ended up being quite popular last year, so we decided to take it a step further this year and do the suits,” said Robichon. To me, it feels natural. This is basically what I wear at home most of the time. I fit right in. We get a couple looks but I think most people are used to it by now. The first time we wore it, we did get a couple people looking at us sideways, but we cherish it and at least it gets people talking.”

 

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is ready for a duel in the desert, bringing plenty of adrenaline-filled action to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park for the 36th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals on Feb. 21-23.
 
It is the second of 24 races during the 2020 NHRA season, providing the opportunity for an early-season victory at one of the traditional stops on the NHRA circuit. Southwest race fans have enjoyed the sights, sounds, smells and thrills of NHRA racing for more than three decades, with the early-season fixture set to provide more pulsating 11,000-horsepower, 330-mph action in 2020.
 
The thrilling NHRA Prime Time, where drivers perform a burnout to their favorite jams played by an onsite DJ, takes place during the second qualifying session on Friday and will help kick off the weekend in style, while all the stars in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will look for some early-season momentum during the NHRA’s annual stop in the Valley of the Sun.
 
Billy Torrence (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of a race that will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including finals coverage on Sunday, Feb. 23.
 
It was a Torrence who won in Top Fuel at Phoenix for a second straight year, only it was Billy, the father of back-to-back world champ Steve Torrence, who ended up in the winner’s circle in 2019. It was the start of a career-best season for the elder Torrence, while Steve, who won the race in 2018 for the first time, ended up with his second straight world title. The Torrence family is aiming for three straight in Phoenix, but it won’t be easy in a loaded class. Leah Pritchett won two straight races at the track in 2016 and 2017, and others to watch include Antron Brown, a three-time race winner, veteran Doug Kalitta, 2017 world champ Brittany Force, Shawn Langdon, who is returning to the class, Clay Millican, Terry McMillen, Austin Prock and Mike Salinas.
 
In Funny Car, Hagan has enjoyed a strong run at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in recent years. His victory last year gave him three wins in the past five years in Phoenix, and the two-time world champ will look to grab more early-season momentum. Trying to stop him will be a slew of talented drivers in the star-studded class, including defending world champ Robert Hight, who won the race in 2012, Hagan’s Don Schumacher Racing teammates Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Ron Capps, John Force, who has an NHRA-best eight wins at the track, previous race winner Alexis DeJoria, who is returning to the class in 2020, 2018 world champ J.R. Todd, Tim Wilkerson, Bob Tasca and Cruz Pedregon.
 
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020, the Pro Stock class will head to Phoenix with plenty of fanfare. The class continues to provide plenty of thrills, much like Coughlin did last year en route to his third career victory at the track. Coughlin finished second in points last year, trailing only Elite Motorsports teammate and reigning world champ Erica Enders. The three-time world champ will look for her second win at the facility against the likes of Greg Anderson, Jason Line, who is retiring from driving following the 2020 season, Alex Laughlin, Deric Kramer, Chris McGaha, who won the race in 2018, Bo Butner and Matt Hartford.
 
The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where future stars of the sport hone their skills. After nitro qualifying, fans can watch a trio of spectacular jet cars, including a pair from the Lucas Oil Muy Caliente team, as well as Scott Arriaga’s “Wicked Sensation” jet car. Known for exciting pre-run flame shows and after burner pops, jet cars are thrust driven vehicles propelled by jet engines.
 
New for the 2020 event will be the Arizona Big Tire Shootout. The shootout will feature an eight car field that consists of one time trial, plus three rounds of eliminations. A chip draw will take place to determine ladder placement. The winner will receive a special acrylic version of the coveted Wally.
 
NHRA fans can take part in the Mello Yello Walking Tour to see the cars and teams hard at work in the pits. Fans can also attend Pro Stock School and Nitro School to learn how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds. Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park will also host a Mello Yello autograph session and allow fans to meet their favorite drivers as well as the Sealmaster Track Walk hosted by NHRA announcer Joe Castello. Another can’t-miss experience is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes. NHRA fans are invited to congratulate the winners of the event as they celebrate their victories.
 
The Motorsports Park has moved its popular Camp Wild Horse overnight campground to Maricopa Road just outside of the main gate, behind the starting line. The new campground experience at the track will allow campers and fans easy access to and from the track. The fee for an overnight camping spot will remain at $225, but the experience and value will increase significantly. Camp Wild Horse access will be granted to anyone with an event ticket.
 
Camp Wild Horse will be hosted each night by 2016 NHRA Funny Car World Champion Ron Capps, driver of Don Schumacher Racing’s NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger. Capps will be on stage for question-and-answer sessions and autograph signings.
 
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
 
Fans will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
 
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 1:45 and 4:45 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 1:30 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23.
 
To purchase general-admission, reserved seats or a Camp Wild Horse spot, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
                    

 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.
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