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International Motor Sports Association

Wednesday Sebring Testing Notebook
News and Notes from Wednesday's Test Day at Sebring International Raceway

 
Feb. 19, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. – IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams testing at Sebring International Raceway got a small taste of wet conditions early Wednesday before the skies cleared and the track dried out by late morning.

 
Six teams – JDC-Miller MotorSports, Whelen Engineering Racing, Porsche GT Team, GEAR Racing, Wright Motorsports and Meyer Shank Racing – were on hand turning laps, with plans to continue into darkness. It’s all in preparation for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on Saturday, March 21.

 
Bourdais, Barbosa Back at Sebring with Fond Memories

 
The last time Sebastien Bourdais and Joao Barbosa raced together in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts back in 2015, they teamed with Christian Fittipaldi to dominate the race in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP.
 
They’ve been reunited – now as full-time co-drivers – for the 2020 WeatherTech Championship as co-drivers of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi with the Minnesota-based JDC-Miller MotorSports team. They were busy putting the car through testing paces Wednesday at Sebring but allowed themselves a few moments to reminisce about their big win five years ago.

 
“It’s great memories here at Sebring,” said Barbosa, a two-time WeatherTech Championship Prototype champion. It’s an awesome place, a great racetrack, very challenging. It’s great to be here with JDC-Miller MotorSports and Mustang Sampling, and definitely really good to be with Sebastien Bourdais as well. We had great history together here, we won a race here in a big way, so we’re really looking forward to come back for the Sebring 12-hour race.”

 
“We’ve had a great relationship with Joao,” Bourdais said. “Obviously, 2015 was a bit of a highlight. It was really a pretty amazing race when we managed to lap the field and come out on top. I’ve got a bunch of really, really good memories with a bunch of the guys that are revolving around that program.”

 
Hardwick Using Previous Motocross Experience to Adapt to Wright Porsche

 
Ryan Hardwick made his Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring debut in 2019, co-driving the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 with Bryan Sellers and Corey Lewis.

 
That was a mid-engined race car, which Hardwick admits is quite a bit different than his 2020 steed, the rear-engined No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R that he is co-driving for the full WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona (GTD) season with American Porsche factory driver Patrick Long. But Hardwick believes his previous experience racing motocross has helped him adapt to the Porsche 911.
“Actually, I’m getting my mind wrapped around this Porsche,” Hardwick. “The style in which you have to drive it through the corner and on the brakes suits my personal style from motocross. I’m kind of driving really hard into corners and using the power to rotate it and traction out. I enjoy it.”

 
Nasr Returns for Defense of Race Win and Redemption from Daytona

 
Returning to the legendary Sebring International Raceway in his effort to defend his Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring title is Brazilian driver Felipe Nasr. He piloted the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi all by himself in the Wednesday test session and will be looking to continue the Whelen Engineering Racing team’s success, as the team has finished on the overall podium in each Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring since 2016.

 
“Sebring’s a pretty special one for us. It produces good racing,” said the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Champion. “We’re trying different things here. We want to come back here come race weekend with a good package on our hands.

 
“We didn’t have the best race weekend at Daytona, so I think it’s redemption time here at Sebring.”

 
Makowiecki Gets Poetic About Sebring International Raceway

 
The Porsche GT Team will be looking to continue carrying its momentum from a double podium at the Rolex 24 At Daytona into the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

 
Frederic Makowiecki is looking for his third consecutive GT Le Mans (GTLM) victory in the Twelve Hours, sharing the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19 with season-long co-driver Nick Tandy – with whom he won Sebring the last two years – and new-for-2020 endurance co-driver, Matt Campbell.

 
While all the tracks on the WeatherTech Championship calendar are special, Makowiecki considers Sebring among his favorites.

 
“For me, Sebring is still my favorite race in the USA because it’s like a temple,” said the French driver. “Nothing’s really changed in over 50 years.

 
“I enjoy every lap. It’s so difficult to get the perfect lap. It’s so difficult to be over the limit. You need to be so connected to the track.”

 
Frey Quickly Learns to “Respect the Bumps”

 
Wednesday’s Sebring test session saw some first-time drivers on the historic, 3.74-mile racing surface. One was the newest member of the GEAR Racing team, Rahel Frey. She got her first taste of the Sebring International Raceway in wet conditions while sharing the No. 19 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 with her more experienced teammates, Katherine Legge and Christina Nielsen.

 
“It’s an amazing track,” said the Swiss rookie, who turned her first laps at Sebring a few minutes before lunch. “It’s so much fun and crazy bumpy. Christina and Katherine warned me, ‘Please be a little bit patient. Take your time with the track.’ Everybody speaks about Turn 17 and there’s so much room. You don’t really know where to place your car.

 
“We had some rain earlier on today and it was brilliant. We never know what could happen in the race. I started on rain tires and built some confidence, so ‘check’ on that.”

 
The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts is set for Saturday, March 21. The race starts at 10:40 a.m. on CNBC. It can also be streamed on the NBC App with authentication and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio will have coverage available at IMSARadio.com, RadioLeMans.com and Sirius XM.

 
Tickets are available now at SebringRaceway.com

 

Tuesday Sebring Testing Notebook
News and Notes from Tuesday's Test Day at Sebring International Raceway

 
Feb. 18, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. - A handful of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams have descended on Sebring International Raceway this week for testing ahead of next month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.

 
Acura Motorsports was one of the participating groups, bringing its two Acura Team Penske Acura DPis in addition to the two Acura NSX GT3 Evos from Meyer Shank Racing and its sister team, Heinricher Racing in the GT Daytona (GTD class).

 
While Acura didn’t make the podium in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona – the No. 6 Acura DPi was closest with a fourth-place finish in the DPi class – all teams are feeling positive heading into Sebring.

 
After damage from an incident at Daytona resulted in a race car that Dane Cameron compared to “being in a paint shaker,” the No. 6 Acura Team Penske DPi team is ready to smooth things out – at the bumpiest track on the schedule.

 
“We’ve kind of fixed our ‘paint shaker’ from Daytona, even though we’re here at bumpy Sebring, famous for the bumps,” said Cameron, who was joined by Juan Pablo Montoya and endurance driver Simon Pagenaud. “We’re working on tuning the handling here. It’s a big factor of what you have to do, really improve that ride quality in the famous Turn 1 and Turn 17 here, keep all the wheels attached to the road to get the most grip. So far, it’s going well.

 
“We qualified on pole position here last year so I think we have a great hot rod and hopefully the race can go a little bit better and we can get that first endurance win for this Acura Team Penske program.”

 
Seeking redemption after the Rolex 24 is the No. 7 Acura Team Penske DPi of Helio Castroneves, Ricky Taylor and endurance driver Alexander Rossi. The team was involved in an incident with the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi not even four hours into the race. Castroneves, behind the wheel at the time, expressed intense frustration immediately afterwards, but has since “decompressed.”

 
“We just turned the page, learned a lot obviously during the race even though we were not in contention,” Castroneves said. “Now we keep going. It’s beautiful weather here in Sebring, a lot of cars are practicing as well, so we’re looking forward to do a much better result than Daytona of course. Hopefully be better than last year too, so we’re looking forward to a great race.”

 
Alvaro Parente has returned to the driver lineup for Heinricher Racing w/ MSR Curb-Agajanian after a one-year hiatus in the No. 57 Acura NSX GT3. He is co-driving alongside a GTD newcomer in Misha Goikhberg. In his most recent season competing in IMSA back in 2018, Parente scored one victory at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in addition to four-runner up finishes sharing the car with then co-driver Katherine Legge. The No. 57 Acura started off its 2020 season with an eighth-place finish in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

 
“We had a tough start at Daytona, but I think we can only look forward because we’ve got a great structure going on,” said Parente. “Hopefully things are going to go smoother from now onwards than Daytona. It’s always like this in GT racing, you get some really hard races, you get some good ones. It keeps it exciting even though we always want to be at the front.”

 
The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts is set for Saturday, March 21. The race starts at 10:40 a.m. on CNBC. It can also be streamed on the NBC App with authentication and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio will have coverage available at IMSARadio.com, RadioLeMans.com and Sirius XM.

 
Tickets are available now at SebringRaceway.com.

 

 

BMW Outlasts Porsche Onslaught for Back-to-Back Rolex 24 At Daytona Wins in WeatherTech Championship GTLM Class
No. 48 Paul Miller Lamborghini Team Celebrates First Rolex 24 At Daytona Win

 
January 26, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service

 
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – 

 
BMW Outlasts Porsche Onslaught for Back-to-Back Rolex 24 At Daytona Wins in WeatherTech Championship GTLM Class
It took every hour of the Rolex 24 At Daytona to determine who would be declared the victor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class at Daytona International Speedway.

 
From the start, the strongest contenders appeared to be the two Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries – the car’s official IMSA debut – versus the two BMW M8 GTEs for BMW Team RLL. However, Corvette Racing and Risi Competizione took turns in the top three as well.

 
In the final hours of the race, a blanket could have been thrown over the Porsches and the No. 24 BMW of Jesse Krohn, John Edwards, Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert. Edwards handed the car over to Krohn in the lead with two hours remaining, but Nick Tandy in the No. 911 Porsche was able to pass the BMW fairly quickly after the stop.

 
Krohn lost ground but valiantly fought back to get bumper-to-bumper with Tandy with less than an hour remaining. The Finn pulled his BMW on the outside of the Porsche down the front stretch heading into Turn 1 but was initially unable to complete the “over-under” pass.

 
However, if you don’t succeed, try and try again.

 
Just a few minutes later, Krohn pulled the same move on the front stretch and, with momentum, swung from the outside to the inside of Tandy’s Porsche heading towards the International Horseshoe. He stuck the BMW to complete the pass and didn’t relinquish the lead for the remaining 45 minutes.

 
“It’s stressful,” said Krohn. “I had little sleep through the night. It was all on my shoulders in the end. I didn’t want to be the guy who finishes second and denies these guys the watches. I put my head down. I didn’t know how we did it. I’m out of words. No mistakes from anyone at BMW RLL. This is what it takes to win the race.”

 
Sunday’s victory marked back-to-back GTLM wins at the Rolex 24 for BMW Team RLL. Their 2019 victory being the most recent time the team stood on the top step of the podium.

 
Farfus is the only driver that was part of both winning lineups. For Krohn, Edwards and Mostert, this is their first Rolex watch. Additionally, IMSA entered the Rolex 24 weekend with 997 winners in the sanctioning body’s top-tier series. Mostert was one of five first-time WeatherTech Championship winners at the Rolex 24, sending that number over 1,000 to 1,002.

 
“We were back and forth with the Porsche, we’d get out ahead, fall back, get in front,” said Edwards. “It was a hard fight. I think running at the end of a Daytona 24 hour is a different race. I’d like to say it was a fun battle, but it took a lot out of me. This is by far the biggest victory of my life.”

 
After Krohn’s pass, the No. 24 BMW set sail, with the Nos. 911 and 912 Porsches dueling among themselves for the final two podium positions. With under 40 minutes remaining, Earl Bamber in the No. 912 passed his teammate Tandy in the No. 911. The finishing order remained the same, with Bamber co-driving with Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet, and Tandy alongside Frederick Makowiecki and Matt Campbell.

 
Corvette Racing is still in search of its 100th IMSA victory, with the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R of Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg finishing the highest of the team’s two entries in fourth.
The BMW Team RLL’s No. 25 of Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng, Bruno Spengler and Colton Herta rounded out the top five.

 
No. 48 Paul Miller Lamborghini Team Celebrates First Rolex 24 At Daytona Win
After one of the most intensely competitive battles in the Rolex 24 At Daytona field, the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini edged the No. 44 GRT Magnus Lamborghini by a mere 21 seconds to earn the GT Daytona (GTD) Class victory Sunday afternoon in the classic endurance twice-around-the-clock race on Daytona International Speedway’s infield road course.
 
From green flag to checkered flag the two Lamborghinis fought each other for the storied race victory. After taking the lead for the last time during a pit stop only 50 minutes before the checkered flag flew, Italian Andrea Caldarelli held off the field and brought the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 to the checkered flag - best in class.

 
Americans Madison Snow, Corey Lewis and Bryan Sellers rounded out the driving lineup. It’s the first win for all four drivers and for Miller the long-time team owner and former IMSA driver. The victory was the third consecutive GTD Rolex 24 At Daytona victory for the Italian manufacturer.
 
“A lot of years trying, a lot of years of pain and watching other people walk by you with the watch you want so bad,’’ said Sellers. “It feels so good to have it all finally come together.”
 
Calderelli credited the crew for playing a huge role in the victory. He passed his former teammate and fellow Italian Marco Mapelli in the pits.
 
“It was very tight,’’ Calderelli noted with a smile. “I used to race with Marco in the same car, so we never really fought one-on-one. I know him. It was a very fair fight and we both represent Lamborghini as well. So we didn’t do any stupid things, but outside it was fun to watch and also inside the cockpit.
 
“The last eight hours were like a sprint race.’’

 
The No. 44 GRT Magnus Lamborghini finished second with John Potter, Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly and Marco Mapelli driving the Huracan GT3. The No. 88 WRT Speedstar Audi Sport R8 LMS GT3 was third.

 
The next race on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on Saturday, March 21. The race starts at 10:40 a.m. on CNBC. It can also be streamed on the NBC App with authentication and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio will have coverage available at IMSARadio.com, RadioLeMans.com and Sirius XM.
 
Kyle Busch Finishes First Rolex 24 Appearance
The event ran under clear skies, comfortable temperatures and a star-studded entry list that also featured newly-crowned NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch in a GTD class AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3.
 
It was Busch’s Rolex 24 debut and although his car finished ninth in the 18-car class field, he was impressive behind the wheel – completing four driving stints for more than six hours total. He was fast enough to make up laps on track, and up until the last driver change, he had the fastest lap in the car moving up the field even after several mechanical challenges so typical in the grueling ‘round-the-clock race.
 
“There was a lot going on and a lot to learn and kind of pick up on and figure out,’’ Busch said of his first Rolex run. “Overall it was good. We had a lot of fun, I enjoyed it. Just being able to get back in a race car again, kind of my season warm-up if you will, and to be able to go out there and run a ton of laps and have a good go of it.
 
“Unfortunately, we just got a little behind with the brake change there, had some issues on the right-front caliper. I guess that got us a little bit further back than we wanted to be. We just didn’t have the long run pace.’’
 
His team owner this weekend, former IndyCar Series champion Jimmy Vasser, was all smiles on pit lane as Busch drove the team’s No. 14 Lexus across the finish line. Obviously disappointed to miss a podium finish, he remained optimistic about his team’s IMSA season and glad to have had Busch behind the wheel for this renowned race.
 
“A great team effort,’’ Vasser said. “With the troubles we had, nobody gave up, everybody pitched in. And speaking on Kyle, he impressed.
 
“I’m not sure why he impressed. He’s a NASCAR champion. He’s won more NASCAR races in the modern day than anybody but it takes a lot of confidence and guts to jump into a discipline that he’d never really done before and he did it with ease.
 
“He was really, really impressive. He was running times of the top sports car pros. It was a joy to have him. He’s a very serious guy, but he was a joy to have on the team and really added a lot for our people to see how a true professional works. Not that we don’t have them here, but he’s a great champion and a true champion.’’
 
Busch said he remains open to making a second Rolex start, but insisted he wanted to evaluate the weekend before making any firm plans.
 
“Too soon to say,’’ Busch said. “I think I will digest all of this and figure it all out. I enjoyed the experience and being able to get out there and do it.”

 

Wayne Taylor Racing Overcomes Sunday Morning Adversity
to Win Second Straight Rolex 24 Overall Title
Same Team, New Look for LMP2 Winners DragonSpeed USA

 
January 26, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service

 
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – 

 
Wayne Taylor Racing Overcomes Sunday Morning Adversity to Win Second Straight Rolex 24 Overall Title
Wayne Taylor was noticeably emotional atop the pit box as Kamui Kobayashi guided his No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R across the start/finish line to the overall win the Rolex 24 At Daytona – the second straight for Wayne Taylor Racing and the fourth total for the team.

 
And the first without one of Taylor’s sons in the driver rotation.

 
Kobayashi, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon and Renger van der Zande filled out the Cadillac’s lineup with Ricky Taylor racing for class rival Acura Team Penske and Jordan Taylor making the move to the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class with Corvette Racing this season.

 
“I can’t explain it,” Wayne Taylor exclaimed when asked what the win meant to him.

 
The team became the first to repeat as overall Rolex 24 winners since Chip Ganassi Racing won three straight Rolex 24s between 2006 and 2008. Dixon was part of the winning lineup for that 2006 victory, which was his first in the twice-around-the-clock.

 
“When they come into this little team of ours, they are just so focused, and so passionate about winning,” Taylor added. “And unfortunately, we are really bad losers. So, when we win like this…I have got to talk about Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, van der Zande. Kobayashi - I mean, the guy is a superstar.”

 
Only van der Zande and Kobayashi returned from the race-winning effort the year before, which also included two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso and Jordan Taylor.

 
Kobayashi was as effusive as Taylor in his praise for the team.

 
“We worked together to build the car,” he said. “We focused in the race, we came back from the Roar, we found something good so we bring it back for race weekend. And once we rolled out, it was fast. This win is all about people helping each other, bringing the speed, bringing the car together. I think the team really felt like family.”

 
Following the mid-way point in the race, it appeared to be clear sailing for the reigning race winners as they led at the hour mark for the next six hours. But Briscoe’s final turn in the car proved to be a true test for the team.

 
“That was a roller coaster,” he said.

 
After taking over for van der Zande in the 18th hour, Briscoe faced mechanical issues that caused a loss in power steering as he navigated the bus stop. He was able to pull to the apron, recycle the electronics and avoid pitting to stay in the lead.

 
But while pitting from the lead under caution at just over 18 and a half hours into the race, Briscoe missed the red light on pit road upon exiting his pit box, landing the team a stop plus 60 seconds penalty.

 
That put the No. 10 a lap down when Loic Duval in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi overtook Briscoe as he was leaving pit road after serving the penalty. Briscoe was relegated fourth place overall with just over five hours remaining in the race.

 
Briscoe said the proximity of the team’s pit box to the red light on pit road contributed to the miscue.

 
“I actually left the pit box and we’re right down at the end there, so the red light is over to the left as soon as I pull out of my pit box,” he said after finishing his final stint. “And when I pulled out, I was actually checking my mirrors to see where the competition was.

 
“It’s my bad, I just didn’t see it.
 
“Thankfully, we had a couple yellows fall our way, we were able to get back on the lead lap and just go to work.”

 
It was Briscoe who regained the lead from Mustang Sampling, with Joao Barbosa behind the wheel, just minutes after the clock turned to 20 hours completed. And other than a brief trading of the lead during final pit stops, the team never looked back as they drove to a dominating win.

 
Although the pole-sitting team of Oliver Jarvis, Tristan Nunez and Olivier Pla in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi held the lead after the opening two hours of the race, they didn’t lead at an hour mark after the eighth. And, ultimately, couldn’t break the streak of Rolex 24 wins by the Cadillacs since the start of the DPi era (2017) as they finished second.

 
Barbosa, Duval and Sebastian Bourdais were the other main challengers in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac, finishing third in the race.

 
The race was a record-breaker. The previous lap record of 808 (set in 2018) was bettered by 25 laps for a total of 833 laps and 2,965.48 miles.

 

 
Same Team, New Look for LMP2 Winners DragonSpeed USA
The saying “change is good” rang true for the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) winners of the Rolex 24 At Daytona as DragonSpeed USA won the season opener for the second consecutive season – but with a very different look from 2019.

 
A year ago, DragonSpeed held the prestigious watches aloft with the No. 18 driven by Roberto Gonzalez, Pastor Maldonado, Sebastian Saavedra and Ryan Cullen. Two of the drivers from this year’s winning team – Ben Hanley and Henrik Hedman – joined them on the podium, but watched the celebration from a bit of a distance as they finished third in the race.

 
This time, it was their turn to shine.

 
The No. 81 ORECA LMP2 07 entry piloted by Hanley, Hedman, Colin Braun and Harrison Newey led the final 212 laps of the race to take the victory. It was the first IMSA victory of any kind for Hanley, Hedman and Newey and – alongside Chaz Mostert (GTLM) and Andrea Caldarelli (GTD) – helped IMSA reach the 1000-driver mark regarding number of drivers who have recorded at least one win in the highest level of racing sanctioned by the governing body.

 
Prior to the start of the Rolex 24, 997 different drivers had stood atop the podium in the top-tier series. The mark now stands at 1,002 drivers.

 
“I’m the only American racing rookie here, this is my first time to Daytona,” Newey said. “It looks like a simple track on paper, but there are a lot of nuances that could cost you a lot of time. All these guys really brought me up to speed and got me comfortable. There were no secrets, and I think that’s what put us on the top step.”

 
For Braun, it was his second Rolex timepiece, following a 2014 Prototype Challenge win with CORE autosport. And he held no reservations about it being a total team effort to get the victory.

 
“Ben drove the wheels off the thing,” Braun said. “The guys have great pit stops and great strategies all day. When you execute like that and make no mistakes, you’re usually rewarded with a victory.”

 
The battle was intense atop the LMP2 leaderboard for most of the race, and only two teams ever holding the lead – the race-winning DragonSpeed entry and the pole-sitting No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07 piloted by Ben Keating, Simon Trummer, Nick Boulle and Gabriel Aubry.

 
PR1 Mathiasen held onto the lead for the opening 104 laps of the race. After that initial stretch, the teams traded the top spot frequently until Braun passed Keating just after 7 a.m. on Sunday (17.5-hour mark) for the final time.

 
Shortly thereafter, PR1 Mathiasen fell four laps behind during an extended pit stop to repair damage and although they got back to just a lap down at the end, the car could never catch back up to DragonSpeed who led the final 212 laps.

 
The PR1 Mathiasen team finished second while Era Motorsport’s No. 18 car driven by Kyle Tilley, Dwight Merriman, Ryan Lewis and Nic Minassian finished third.

 
The next race on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on Saturday, March 21. The race starts at 10:40 a.m. on CNBC. It can also be streamed on the NBC App with authentication and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio will have coverage available at IMSARadio.com, RadioLeMans.com and Sirius XM.

 

 

Cadillacs Lead at 18-Hour Mark as Rolex 24 Continues on Record Pace

 
January 26, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – With six hours remaining in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Renger van der Zande led the way in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R at what could be a record pace. He was 17.509 seconds ahead of Loic Duval in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R.

 
Van der Zande and the No. 10 team that includes Kamui Kobayashi, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon completed 631 laps through 18 hours. The current record, set two years ago by Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi, is 808 laps.

 
The No. 10 team’s lead at 18 hours also enabled it to extend its lead in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup standings to three, 14-11, after three of the four scoring segments in the Rolex 24.

 
Running third, more than 48 seconds behind the leader was Tristan Nunez in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT-24P. There were three Daytona Prototype international (DPi) cars still on the lead lap.

 
One lap behind was Ryan Hunter-Reay in fourth place driving in the No. 77 Mazda. Pipo Derani was fifth in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi, three laps behind the leader.

 
In the LMP2 class, Henrik Hedman led the way in the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA with a three-lap advantage over Ben Keating in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA. The No. 52 team dominated much of the of the race but lost three laps late in the 18th hour for a brake change.

 
That put the DragonSpeed team in a strong position to win its second consecutive Rolex 24 with a different set of co-drivers in Hedman, Ben Hanley, Colin Braun and Harrison Newey. However, the No. 52 team continues to lead the Michelin Endurance Cup standings with a two-point advantage, 14-12, over the No. 81 team through three scoring intervals.

 
There were three cars on the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class lead lap after 18 hours led by 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM champion Earl Bamber in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR. Bamber – who is sharing the car with Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet – led a 1-2 sweep for the team by 12.505 seconds over Nick Tandy in the No. 911 Porsche.

 
Looking for his second consecutive Rolex 24 victory, Augusto Farfus was running third in the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE, also on the lead lap. The top three cars have controlled most of the first 18 hours between them.

 
The No. 912 and the No. 24 teams are tied atop the Michelin Endurance Cup standings with 13 points apiece.

 
It’s a Lamborghini-Audi battle in the GT Daytona (GTD) class with six hours to go, with a few others still lurking.

 
Heading the field was Corey Lewis in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 by 8.535 seconds over Dries Vanthoor in the No. 88 WRT Speedstar Audi Sport R8 LMS GT3. They were the only two cars on the lead lap in GTD, but two more cars, the No. 44 GRT Magnus Lamborghini in third and the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, were just one lap behind with six hours to go.

 
In addition to leading the race, the No. 48 team of Lewis, Bryan Sellers, Andrea Caldarelli and Madison Snow also took over sole possession of the Michelin Endurance Cup lead by two points, 13-11, over Andy Lally, John Potter, Spencer Pumpelly and Marco Mapelli in the No. 44 Lamborghini.

 
Live television coverage of the Rolex 24 continues on NBCSN until 12 p.m. ET, when NBC network coverage takes over for the finish. The race can also be streamed on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold and the NBC Sports App with authentication. IMSA Radio has complete coverage at IMSARadio.com, RadioLeMans.com and on SiriusXM.
Rolex 24 At Daytona: Saturday Notebook

 
January 25, 2020
By Holly Cain
IMSA Wire Service
Busch Encouraged by First Laps in Rolex 24
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. --- Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch turned his first race laps in the world-renowned Rolex 24 At Daytona IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener Saturday evening. And while conditions dictated an abbreviated initial stint, Busch emerged from his car enthusiastic. And optimistic.
 
His No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 sat 14th in the 18-car GT Daytona (GTD) class, but after a rough start – the car qualified 16th in class – it had improved its position when Busch pitted following a 43-minute shift. On the lead lap.
 
“Put me in the car and there’s excitement all around,’’ Busch said after getting out of the car during a full course caution Saturday.
 
“I drove all the way back to the lead lap and everything. With all the strategy and stuff and wave-bys here, it’s quite different than what we’re accustomed to on our [NASCAR] side of things. And to get ourselves back on the lead lap so we could start scrapping again for the lead, that’s not bad.’’
 
Busch conceded the traffic - four classes of cars with varying speeds competing simultaneously - was certainly something to get used to. But Busch was smiling and overall pleased with the new experience.
 
“Certainly interesting with that wave-by and re-strategizing. Obviously, you put Kyle in the race and the excitement seems to pick up. Everybody’s welcome,” he said with a smile.
 
Busch was slated to run a double-stint from 2-4 a.m. and then again from 7-9 a.m.
 
Wayne Taylor Racing, Taylor Brothers Move On at Daytona
For much of their adult lives, second-generation racers Ricky and Jordan Taylor have competed together and raced for family. Their father, Wayne Taylor, fields a perennial championship favorite team in the WeatherTech Championship Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class and is a two-time Rolex 24 winner as a driver and a two-time winner as a team owner.
 
And for the last decade at least one of his talented sons has driven his famed No. 10 prototype winning races and championships.
 
Taylor’s older son Ricky, 30, left the family business in 2017 after receiving a wonderful opportunity from Acura Team Penske to drive its prototypes. Jordan, 28, who spent the last seven seasons driving his father’s prototype, has moved to the Corvette Racing factory team this season to drive the famed No. 3 Corvette C8.R in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class.
 
The brothers assured with warm smiles, all was okay with dad and his team.
 
“Obviously, it was hard both times one of us left the team,’’ Ricky Taylor said. “Everyone thinks when we leave, my dad’s going to lose his motivation and just want to support us and it’s the end of Wayne Taylor Racing.
 
“But he’s motivated,’’ Taylor said of his father. “He’s got [Scott] Dixon, [Ryan] Briscoe, [Kamui] Kobayashi and Renger [Van der Zande] this week and he’s like all of us, he’s a fan. He watches us closely and wants the best for us. It’s nice he has the quality team – drivers, engineers that he has because he’s still very motivated to win.’’
 
The Taylor family has done plenty of winning together. Ricky and Jordan won 12 races together for their father’s team from 2014-17, including the 2017 Rolex 24 and that year’s prototype-class championship.
 
Before Saturday’s Rolex 24 green flag flew, the two brothers met up on the grid to wish one another good luck then sought out their father down pit lane to wish him a good race as well.
 
“It was a hard decision to leave Wayne Taylor Racing - obviously I was there for seven years and we won a lot of races and championships together, so you’re leaving a program that’s successful and it was my family and I was comfortable there,’’ Jordan Taylor said. “My family is close, so it’s tough to make the split.
 
“At the same time, Ricky had gone to Penske, which is a huge opportunity you can’t turn down. And when I was offered to go to Corvette, that’s an opportunity you can’t really turn down either.
 
“So my dad can be proud of the fact he basically groomed us as drivers through this team and we were hired away by great teams and manufacturers. He’s proud of it. Obviously, we’re all a little sad we’re not together anymore. But I think it’s a good thing we’re being hired as professionals, and dad doesn’t have to look after us.
 
“It’s all been good so far.’’
 
Strong NASCAR Presence at IMSA Opener
From executives at the driver’s meeting to drivers on pit road to competitors handing television duty, there was a broad NASCAR presence at the Rolex 24 Saturday morning as teams awaited the green flag.
 
Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon was pit side checking in with the Wayne Taylor Racing team, with whom he won the 2017 Rolex 24 race. Former NASCAR Cup driver and Xfinity Series champion Brian Vickers was on pit road catching up with friends as was driver David Ragan, who said this was the first Rolex 24 he ever attended and that he would be open to competing in a future race.
 
Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch is entered in the GTD Class No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Acura and former Cup driver A.J. Allmendinger, who is driving the No. 57 Acura NSX for Michael Shank Racing.
 
NASCAR on NBC’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Steve Letarte manned the NBC broadcast.
 
“I’ll drive with Junior and maybe we could get Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart,’’ Gordon told Earnhardt and Letarte on the NBC Sports broadcast, joking about coming back to the Rolex 24 and running the race again with a NASCAR lineup.
 
“My number one goal when I was here, whether it was testing, whether back at shop doing pit practice or here in the race, don’t be the weak link,’’ Gordon said of his experience a couple seasons ago.
 
“Unfortunately, first time I got in the car, I was the weak link.
 
“I had to restart the car and we were leading under caution. I went into Turn 2 in the horseshoe and hit a guy and I hadn’t even been in the car five minutes. Luckily, I made up for that and the rest of my race went really well and I wasn’t the weak link.’”
 

 

Halfway at Daytona: No. 5 Mustang Sampling / JDC-Miller Cadillac

Vaults Up the Charts to Lead at 12-Hour Mark

 
January 26, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing / JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi rose through the ranks between Hours 6-12 to lead at the halfway mark of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener, the prestigious Rolex 24 at Daytona.

 
Loic Duval was behind the wheel at Hour 12 before turning the car over to Joao Barbosa just following the conclusion of the second of four segments of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup at Daytona. Sebastien Bourdais is the third co-driver of the car.

 
The trio of drivers for the No. 5 now have seven points towards the Michelin Endurance Cup, two behind the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi for Wayne Taylor Racing. The No. 10 Cadillac holds strong through the first half of the race, finishing first after six hours and second after 12 hours.

 
In the LMP2 class, the PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports squad bolstered its lead in the Endurance Cup standings, finishing first in both segments completed thus far. With 10 points, the team has three more than the No. 81 DragonSpeed ORECA LMP2, which was running second at the halfway point.

 
While the GTLM battle is still as tight as ever, the No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE remains strong. In fact, the finishing order following the first segment of the Endurance Cup was replicated during the following segment. The Nos. 912 and 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19s for Porsche GT Team finished the segment second and third, respectively. Fourth went to the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R and fifth went to the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE.

 
The No. 24 BMW’s lead in the endurance standings is now two points over the No. 912 Porsche.

 
Following one cycle around the clock, there’s still no telling who might come away with a Rolex watch in the GT Daytona (GTD) class. Two Lamborghini Huracán GT3 teams are tied with eight points apiece – the No. 44 for GRT Magnus, which finished first at the six-hour mark, and the No. 48 for Paul Miller Racing, which led at the 12-hour mark.

 
Making the biggest jump in GTD was the No. 88 WRT Speedstar Audi Sport Audi R8 LMS GT3, which was initially eighth in the endurance standings, but with a second-place result in the most recent segment, now has six points and ranks second. They’re tied with the No. 63 WeatherTech Racing Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3.

 
The Rolex 24 At Daytona will air live on NBCSN through 3 a.m. ET, before moving exclusively to the NBC Sports App from 3 a.m. – 6 a.m. From there, it moves to NBCSN until noon, before the NBC Network takes over for the dramatic final two hours. The race can also be streamed live in its entirety on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio coverage is available at RadioLeMans.com and IMSARadio.com plus SiriusXM.

 
NOTES:
  • Should Corvette Racing’s 100th IMSA win come at the Rolex 24, it will be by the efforts of the No. 3 Corvette C8.R. Its sister car, the No. 4 of Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin and Marcel Fassler, went behind the wall during the second quarter of the race due to an oil leak. The team continues to work on the issue to get back out on track.
  • A costly penalty for the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi dropped it from the lead to the bottom of the DPi class charts about 10 hours through the race. Tristan Nunez was deemed to have made a pass under a yellow flag, mandating a drive-through penalty. Making impressive gains, the No. 77 was up to third at the 12-hour mark.
  • The yellow flag that led to Nunez’s penalty was a result of the No. 19 GEAR Racing powered by GRT Grasser running slow and stopping in Speedway Turn 4. The car was towed back to the garage with the team believing the issue was related to fuel pressure. The car returned to track during the 11th hour of the race. 
Repeat Bid for No. 10 Cadillac DPi Team
Off to Strong Start in Rolex 24 At Daytona
The No. 52 PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA leads LMP2,
No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE at lead in GTLM and No. 44 GRT Magnus Lamborghini leads in GTD

 
January 25, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team’s bid to win a second consecutive Rolex 24 At Daytona is off to a solid start as the team held the lead at the one-quarter distance Saturday evening.

 
Renger van der Zande held a 7.668-second lead over Filipe Albuquerque’s No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R at the end of six hours of racing on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway circuit. Van der Zande and Kamui Kobayashi are looking for their second consecutive Rolex win in the No. 10 machine with a pair of new teammates for 2020, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon.

 
Their lead at six hours also earned the No. 10 team the maximum five points toward the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. The No. 31 team has four points, and the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 driven at the six-hour mark by Simon Pagenaud has three points for running third at the quarter mark.

 
The pole-winning No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT-24P shared by Oliver Jarvis, Tristan Nunez and Olivier Pla led the lion’s share of the laps in the first six hours but was running fourth after six hours. It’s still almost anybody’s race in the lead Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class, with seven of the eight cars in class still running on the lead lap.

 
The LMP2 leader at six hours was the No. 52 PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA co-driven by Gabriel Aubry, Ben Keating, Simon Trummer and Nick Boulle. Aubry was at the wheel at the end of the first six-hour interval and led Nicolas Lapierre in the No. 8 Tower Motorsport by Starworks ORECA by a full lap.
The No. 52 – which now leads the LMP2 Michelin Endurance Cup standings – dominated the first six hours, leading almost every lap in the race. Harrison Newey was third in LMP2 aboard the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA.

 
In GT Le Mans (GTLM), Jesse Krohn headed the field in the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE he shares with John Edwards, Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert. The No. 24 was 0.889 seconds ahead of Nick Tandy in the No. 911 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR, with the No. 912 Porsche of 2019 GTLM co-champion Laurens Vanthoor in third.

 
The No. 24 found its way to the head of the field in the fifth hour after the pair of Porsches dominated the proceedings early on. As a result, they’re also atop the Michelin Endurance Cup standings.

 
In the GT Daytona (GTD) class, Marco Mapelli topped the class in the No. 44 GRT Magnus Lamborghini Huracán GT3 by 4.565 seconds over Cooper MacNeil in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3. That gives Mapelli and co-drivers Andy Lally, John Potter and Spencer Pumpelly the early Michelin Endurance Cup lead also.

 
Running third at six hours was another Lamborghini, the No. 58 Paul Miller Racing Huracán with Andrea Caldarelli at the controls. All of the top-three cars took turns at the head of the field in the fifth and sixth hours after the pole-winning No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R dominated the early going with drivers Zacharie Robichon, Dennis Olsen, Lars Kern and Patrick Pilet.

 
However, the No. 9 slowed dramatically and fell down the order but was the last car on the GTD lead lap at the end of six hours running in 11th position.

 
NOTES:
-       An incident in the bus stop between Harry Tincknell in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest DPi and Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Acura DPi in the fourth hour sent the No. 7 into the tire barrier. Castroneves subsequently brought the car into the garage for lengthy repairs, while Tincknell continued but was given a drive-through penalty for incident responsibility. Castroneves eventually rejoined the race after losing 23 laps to the leader.

 
-       The race’s first full course caution came out in the fifth hour of the race for an incident involving the GTD cars of Eric Lux in the No. 47 Precision Performance Motorsports Lamborghini and Alex Riberas in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin. The cars made contact near the pit entry and both slid through the infield grass. Lux got the No. 47 running and made his way into the pits, but the No. 23 suffered substantial front-end damage and could not be driven back and later retired from the race.

 
-       There will be no three-peat for the No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini squad as the car went to the garage for an extended stay with mechanical issues in the fourth hour. Franck Perera, who won this race with the team two years ago, brought the car in with fuel pressure problems just four laps after a pit stop.

 
The 58th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona is currently airing exclusively on the NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. NBCSN coverage returns at 11 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio coverage is available at RadioLeMans.com and IMSARadio.com plus SiriusXM.

 

 

 

Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG Wins Second Consecutive
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Endurance Race
as Season-Opener Ends Under Caution
Road Shagger Racing Audi Clinches Memorable TCR Victory

 
January 24, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – 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.
Rolex 24 at Daytona - Friday Notebook

 
January 24, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – News and notes from Friday of Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend on Jan. 24, 2020.

 
CONVERGENCE: TALK OF THE PADDOCK
Sports car racing’s highest-profile team owners, manufacturer representatives, series executives and drivers came together Friday afternoon in Daytona for one of the sport’s most significant modern-day announcements – the convergence of the top categories of endurance racing under the unified designation LMDh.

 
IMSA Chairman Jim France said he and the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) leaders first broached the idea five years ago, realizing the massive undertaking it would take to make the union a reality. But France said he and the other executives also realized an enormous upside of uniting the cars in the world’s great endurance races from the Rolex 24 to the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Motul Petit Le Mans.

 
“It’s a continuation of the vision where both cars are competing at Le Mans are also competing at Daytona for the overall victory,’’ France told the rapt audience. “It’s a step to that spot. The proof will be when we have a car that wins Daytona and wins Le Mans in the same year, that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

 
“The way I view it,” he continued afterward, “is if you ever catch the Ford vs. Ferrari movie where the cars went back and forth at Le Mans, that’s the era that we’re getting ready to enter into here, that is my optimistic hope.

 
“I can’t control what the manufacturers do and how they approach it, but the opportunity will certainly be there.”

 
DALE JR. READY FOR YEAR TWO OF BROADCASTING ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA ON NBC
Popular NASCAR driver turned commentator Dale Earnhardt Jr., and his former Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Steve Letarte will broadcast their second Rolex 24 At Daytona this weekend. They met with the media Friday morning along with on-air talent Calvin Fish and Leigh Diffey as part of the NBC Sports team covering that is covering the race.

 
NBC Sports’ coverage of the Rolex 24 starts live on the NBC network Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET, with NBC network coverage of the finish airing at 12 p.m. ET Sunday. In addition to the network windows on Saturday and Sunday, additional Rolex 24 Coverage includes windows on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App and the race in its entirety on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

 
Fish, a former driver and longtime IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship announcer, spoke about the extended benefits of having the NASCAR pair on the broadcast team for the Rolex 24 for a second consecutive year.

 
 “I think we just have a great mix,’” Fish said. “It’s great to be back, and I think last year working with Dale and Steve up there on the pit box, they come at the sport from a different angle so they’re very curious about a lot of things and I think that opens you up to look at it differently yourself.

 
“I think that was great for the fans.”

 
Earnhardt was similarly enthused to be trackside for the annual twice-around-the-clock classic endurance race. He competed in the race twice, scoring a memorable runner-up finish in 2001, co-driving a GTO-class Chevrolet Corvette with his father, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt and sports car champion Andy Pilgrim.

 
He finished fifth overall and third in the marquee Daytona Prototype class in the 2004 Rolex 24 co-driving with NASCAR champion Tony Stewart and sports car great Andy Wallace. The team led 345 of 519 laps, only to suffer a suspension problem in the closing laps.

 
“I have to remind myself that I even ran this race a couple times because we come here as the NASCAR guys. When you sit on the [NBC Sports] pit box you really do kind of fall into that fandom sort of experience watching the race and seeing who the underdogs are and who the guys to beat are,’’ Earnhardt said smiling.

 
“It’s an incredible experience from a fan perspective.”

 
Earnhardt joked that he and Letarte were enjoying their Rolex experience so much, they should field a team and compete themselves one day soon. Earnhardt said Letarte would be the designated “gentlemen” driver, he would be the 50-plus driver because he’d probably be 50 years old before they could make this attempt.

 
“Then we’d have to have someone really really fast to save us,” Earnhardt said. “Every time we daydream about it’s a different driver.”

 
Both Earnhardt and Letarte said they fully expected Kyle Busch would not only enjoy his first 24-hour race experience but fully expected the reigning Cup champ to be competitive in his driving stints. There wasn’t much advice Earnhardt felt he could give the recently crowned two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Busch at this point.

 
“Kyle’s got a great team around him and great drivers that he’s working with and his experience will be completely different from mine,” Earnhardt said. “It was so long ago that I don’t know that I could help him a whole lot.

 
“It will be fun to watch him experience it. He’s such a talented driver. He’s going to be so prepared mentally and knows exactly what he needs to do to do the job right.”

 
BUSCH IS READY TO ROLL
Kyle Busch conceded there have been some definite “lessons” preparing for his first Rolex 24 At Daytona start. But the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion was quite optimistic about his No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 and the challenge that awaited the team.

 
The car will start 16th among the 18 GTD cars. The team did not make a qualifying run after an eventful pre-qualifying run when the car went over a raised speed bump-type section of the bus stop turn entering the NASCAR Speedway Turn 3.

 
The team repaired the damage from the heavy hit, changed the engine and had limited practice Thursday evening. Busch insisted the team recovered well, and that he and driver Jack Hawksworth, who drives the car fulltime, were back to quicker lap times by Friday morning.

 
“We’d love to get that better and feel a little more competitive, but we’re also trying to make sure we stay on track and complete all 24 hours,” Busch told reporters on Friday.

 
“Got some good laps last night and some good laps this morning. I think I ran the quickest of our cars this morning,’’ adding with a grin, “I’m not sure what that means.”

 
The team handed out driving assignments on Friday and Busch said he is tentatively scheduled to drive from 6-9 p.m. on Saturday, overnight from 2-4:30 a.m. and then again Sunday morning, 7-9 a.m. Of course the schedule changes – in lineup and timeframe – as the twice-around-the-clock event goes on.

 
CHALLENGING IMSA DEBUT FOR DEEGAN
Hailie Deegan may not have won the race in her IMSA debut, but the 18-year old Ford factory driver said she’ll leave Daytona International Speedway’s road course feeling optimistic about her return to the track for the ARCA Menards Series season-opener Feb. 8 on the traditional Daytona 2.5-mile high-banked oval.

 
Deegan’s No. 22 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang suffered a pair of mechanical issues, at one point requiring about half an hour of work in the garage. But after driving more than two hours, Deegan finally brought the car into the garage for work and a driver change, leaving Ford teammate Chase Briscoe to finish the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge.

 
“I feel like I just gained a lot of experience,” Deegan said after climbing out of the car. “I’m here to gain experience after that three-day road test, coming here and practicing for two days. I just feel like I know a lot more about racing than I did before and that’s why I’m here and supposed to be doing.”

 
Deegan ran as high as 12th in the 51-car field before the lengthy pit stop. A full-course yellow came out for an accident in the bus stop with about 13 minutes remaining in the race, freezing the field. Deegan’s teammate Chase Briscoe rallied to get the car back up to 29th in the final class standings. His fellow NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor Austin Cindric finished right behind them co-driving the team’s other Ford Mustang.

 
The adventurous day for all ultimately could be chalked up as a learning experience for the young NASCAR talents.

 
“I’m gaining experience,’’ Deegan said of day. “And that’s what I’m here to do.’’

 
No. 7 ACURA BOUNCES BACK FROM QUALIFYING CRASH
In Friday’s final practice session before the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 7 Acura Team Penske DPi entry was second-fastest in the field.

 
And that time of 1:35.733 (133.872 mph) shows just how quickly the team bounced back after Ricky Taylor’s high-speed crash at the bus stop in the waning minutes of the DPi qualifying session on Thursday. The team immediately went into scramble mode, reassembling the Acura in time to make it out on track during the final five minutes of the night session on Thursday – but didn’t record a lap time.

 
Taylor said that the team had been planning to use the evening session “to do a lot of our development work” as they knew following the Roar that they had a lot of ground to make up on Mazda Team Joest, which won the pole for this weekend’s race. But the Friday morning session gave the team the chance to make those adjustments.

 
“So, I’d say that the only setback right now is that we lost a set of tires,” Taylor said during a Friday media session. “We were hoping to save a set of tires, that qualifying set was lost. So that’s an extra double-stint that we have to do in the race, which equates to some time.

 
“But in the grand scheme of things, pace-wise, we should be right where we were.”

 
That could mean good things for the team co-driven by Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi that is aiming to improve over their third-place finish a year ago.

 
JORDAN TAYLOR A BORE? HE IS AT THE BUFFET
Jordan Taylor has long been one of endurance racing’s most outgoing personalities. He’s funny, he’s witty and he’s always pulling pranks on social media.

 
But when it comes to his food choices for a 24-hour endurance race, let’s just say Taylor’s plate doesn’t match his personality.

 
In fact …

 
“I'm pretty boring,” said Taylor, on the eve of his 13th drive in the Rolex 24. “I eat the same thing every meal. I just eat salad, pasta and chicken every meal of the whole weekend pretty much other than breakfast.”

 
Taylor’s dull dining is the byproduct of experience, one of the “little things” he said has evolved with his Rolex 24 prep since he first tackled the twice-around-the-clock challenge in 2008. Back then, eating well wasn’t a priority.

 
Neither was rest.

 
“The first one, I had no idea what I was doing,” said Taylor, a two-time Rolex 24 winner. “I was trying to sleep after the first stint, didn't sleep and then I was too excited after the second stint and didn't sleep at all.”

 
Taylor will at least grab an hour’s sleep after his second stint this weekend in the No. 3 Corvette C8.R, the car he’s sharing with Antonio Garcia and Nicky Catsburg. But before Taylor starts snoring in the motorcoach, you’ll find him refueling at the boring buffet.

 
“As soon as you get out of the car, you want to get a meal in so it can digest before your next stint, constantly hydrating,” he said. “If you are sore in a spot, make sure you are getting treatment for it early on instead of later when it's past the point of treatment. It's being more experienced with the little things that will catch up with you at the end of the race.”

 

 

Jarvis Earns Second Straight Motul Pole Award
for Rolex 24 At Daytona in No. 77 Mazda DPi
Keating Drives No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA to LMP2 Pole

 
January 23, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – 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.

 
AWA McLaren on Pole Position with Wittmer for IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Opener at Daytona
Lewis Delivers Alfa Romeo’s First Pilot Challenge Pole Award

 
January 23, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – 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.

 
Porsche Sweeps WeatherTech Championship GTLM Front Row
for Rolex 24 At Daytona
Plaid on Pole: Pfaff Porsche Earns Motul Pole Award in GTD
One Year after WeatherTech Championship Debut

 
January 23, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – 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.”

 

 

Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona – Sunday Notebook

 
January 5, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Pla, No. 77 Mazda Unofficially Breaks Daytona Track Record in Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona Garage and Pit Qualifying; Calado Fastest GTLM Qualifier in No. 62 Ferrari.

 
A year ago, there was much fanfare surrounding Oliver Jarvis and the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT-24P at the end of Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona qualifying for garage and pit stall selections in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class.

 
The reason for the fanfare was the fact that Jarvis had just unofficially broken PJ Jones’ 26-year-old track record of one minute, 33.875 seconds. When he returned for the race three weeks later, Jarvis officially claimed the track record with a lap of 1:33.685 en route to the Motul Pole Award.

 
On Sunday, Jarvis’ new-for-2020 endurance racing teammate Olivier Pla unofficially toppled the not-quite-year-old record with a lap of 1:33.324 (137.321 mph). As a result, the No. 77 team, which includes co-drivers Pla, Jarvis and Tristan Nunez, will – for the second consecutive year – have first choice of garage location and pit stall for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona on the weekend of Jan. 23-26.

 
“We knew this morning that the conditions would probably be fast with the cold air temperature but some sun, so we were expecting a fast lap time,” Pla said. “I’ve been told to push and to push hard so that’s what we did. I have to thank my team for allowing me to because the car was really good. We’ve been working always really hard. We are pleased with that. It doesn’t mean anything, but I think it just showed a continuity of last year.”

 
The race kicks off the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the four-race IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. Pla moves over to the No. 77 after sharing the team’s No. 55 Mazda with Jonathan Bomarito and Harry Tincknell, who now have 2012 IndyCar champion and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay as their co-driver.

 
Pla led a total of five drivers to post speeds faster than the track record, which can be set officially in qualifying on race weekend. Ricky Taylor was second fastest in the No. 7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 at 1:33.543 (137.000 mph), followed by 2019 WeatherTech Championship DPi champion Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 6 Acura DPi at 1:33.565 (136.967 mph).

 
Felipe Nasr was fourth fastest in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R at 1:33.652 (136.840 mph) and Bomarito rounded out the top five at 1:33.660 (136.828 mph).

 
In the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, James Calado led an extremely close session, posting the fastest time of 1:42.685 (124.803 mph) in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE he is sharing this weekend with Daniel Serra. Calado and the team are coming off a victory in the 2019 WeatherTech Championship season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta last October.

 
Calado’s time was 0.001 seconds faster than Nick Tandy’s second-fastest time in the session of 1:42.686 (124.801 mph) in the No. 911 Porsche GT Team RSR-19. The entire GTLM field was covered by just 0.446 seconds.

 
“The difference this year, especially this year, is that everyone has upped the ante in the Roar,” Calado said. “It’s not like previous years where people would hold back. I think it’s pretty equal at the moment and I think that puts us in good stead for a good race.

 
“I think over the last couple years we’ve had good races as well. We know how competitive GTLM is and the whole of GT to be honest. Looking forwarding to battling with all these guys and having a good race. It’s 24 hours, anything can happen, conditions change especially here, so fingers crossed.”

 
Tommy Milner led much of the session before ending up third in the new No. 4 Corvette Racing C8.R at 1:42.793 (124.671 mph). Jesse Krohn was fourth in class at 1:42.844 (124.610 mph) in the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE, followed by defending WeatherTech Championship GTLM champion Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 912 Porsche. Vanthoor’s best time was 1:42.903 (124.538 mph).

 
On-track activity for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona begins Thursday, Jan. 23 with practice and qualifying. 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.

 
Kyle Busch Settling in to IMSA as the Roar Before the Rolex 24 Comes to Close
In his final media availability of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch discussed the differences he has experienced in braking and passing etiquette during his weekend in a sports car.

 
And in a light-hearted moment, also fire suit pant cut.

 
While being asked about the ribbing that his teammate in the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 Jack Hawksworth doled out, Busch said the other drivers’ fire suits “looked like underwear, long johns,” whereas his looked like “a pair of pants, I’ve got the regular boot cut…NASCAR-style.”

 
“Theirs are all wrong, mine’s right.”

 
When it got back to the more serious matter of differences in racing between NASCAR and IMSA, Busch brought up a couple of “interesting” moments on track while navigating traffic.

 
“I learned from Jack that correct road course driver etiquette is to not ever be on the outside of another guy ‘cause they’ll just force you off,” Busch said. “He was actually quite entertained when he ran his NASCAR race at Road America last year that guys would actually give you room on the outside of the corner and not just throw you off on the dirt.”

 
The challenge of passing similarly paced GT cars while staying out of the way of fast-approaching Daytona Prototype international (DPi) cars, all while still maintaining consistent lap times, is one that is not lost on Busch.

 
“Interesting moments like that that are going to play out the whole time in the race,” he said. “You have instances in which you’re faster than the guy in front of you, and just barely because it’s a class car, and you’re trying to pass that guy…but you have these other guys coming and blowing your doors off on some of these corners, that you basically have to forfeit. You can lose a lot of time in doing those things.”

 
Busch also indicated that he’s still learning the braking – as his NASCAR Toyota Camry carries a great deal more weight than the IMSA Lexus RC F GT3, which also has ABS braking that is lacking in the stock car. Throughout the weekend, he felt he started to get a better grasp on the limits in the corners and gained consistency each time out.

 
One additional surprise came in the visibility on the track during the only night practice session Saturday evening.

 
“What do you even need the headlights for? There’s plenty of light,” Busch said. “I raced local short tracks, some of them dirt…and there wasn’t very much light at those places.

 
“It seems as though my eyes still work OK.”

 
Busch will return to Daytona later this month alongside co-drivers Hawksworth, Parker Chase and Michael De Quesada for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona.

 
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Teams Complete Roar Testing Ahead of Four-Hour Opener During Rolex 24 Weekend
Nearly 40 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge teams took their first laps of the 2020 season at Daytona International Speedway this weekend as part of the annual Roar Before the Rolex 24.

 
Following six testing sessions, Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 31 Team Hardpoint Audi R8 GT4 owned the fastest time of the weekend of one minute, 53.555 seconds (112.856 mph), posted during the Sunday morning practice. Pumpelly returns to Daytona alongside co-driver Rob Ferriol, both of whom shared an Audi for the final three races of 2019.

 
While the Team Hardpoint car led two of the six sessions, the No. 33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 led the way through the first three.

 
“Testing doesn’t say much, everyone is getting warm,” said Dutchman Indy Dontje, who will co-drive with Russell Ward for the second straight season. “It was good to be back directly on top, but you never know what everyone is doing.

 
“At least it’s good to be back with the team. Everybody is in a good rhythm. We have actually a lot of the same faces, so I think that is also a really good thing for us because everybody knows what he’s doing and for that reason, I think we came out really good.”

 
In the TCR class, Stephen Simpson broke the two-minute mark during the final practice, topping the class’ charts at 1:59.846 (106.932 mph) for the weekend. While no longer with JDC-Miller Motorsports in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Simpson remains with the team in Pilot Challenge as the longtime coach for Michael Johnson. The two return in the No. 54 Audi RS3 LMS.

 
Additionally, the No. 18 TEAM PREMAT Audi, the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta and the No. 21 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N posted fastest laps in class by a session’s end.

 
The four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge opens the 2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season on Friday, January 24. The race begins at 1 p.m. ET and can be streamed live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. The NBCSN television broadcast will air on Thursday, February 6 at 1 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio will also provide live coverage of the race.
New Driver Lineup in No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports Norma Wins IMSA Prototype Challenge Season Opener at Daytona

 
January 4, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – An all-new driver lineup delivered similar results for the 2019 IMSA Prototype Challenge championship-winning No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports team, as Joel Janco, JJ Jorge and Kyle Kirkwood, co-drove to victory in Saturday’s three-hour season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

 
The team fell off the lead lap early after an incident under rainy conditions in the Bus Stop with their team car, the No. 40, but battled back in the final hour to get into contention for the victory. On a restart with 28 minutes remaining, Kirkwood lined up fourth behind the No. 75 of Max Hanratty, the No. 17 of Garett Grist and race leader Dakota Dickerson in the No. 54 entry.

 
Kirkwood and the No. 47 Norma M30 quickly made their way forward, and 10 minutes later he took the lead from Dickerson at the start-finish line. He cruised the rest of the way to win by 8.846 seconds.
It was Kirkwood’s first IMSA Prototype Challenge victory, coming in his first series start. However, he does have one previous win aboard an LMP3 car in an IMSA-sanctioned race, the 2018 Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring International Raceway co-driving with Canadian Roman De Angelis.

 
“This is my third time in an LMP3 car, the first time with the Norma last month we did a couple of amateur test days earlier in December,” said Kirkwood. “This is really my first time at speed in this car. I adjusted to it really quick. It kind of suits my driving style. For me, I like more of an understeering car and I think that suits more for myself than the Ligier does.”

 
Janco and Jorge co-drove to the IMSA Prototype Challenge Bronze Cup championship in 2019, but this was their first overall race victory in the series. They won the non-points Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore in November 2019 with IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship regular and past IMSA Prototype Challenge champion Tristan Nunez as their co-driver.

 
“It’s unexpected,” Janco said. “We’re honored to have won the race. Clearly, I have a very good choice in co-drivers here and the team. Forty7 was awesome, they made no mistakes and they had a fast car. it’s just beyond any of my fondest dreams.“

 
“The team does a really great job,” Jorge added. “They’re fairly new to this type of racing, they’ve been doing P3 for three years now. It’s a family-type of orientation so when we come into the track, you really feel welcome. That alone sets the precedent for the entire weekend.”

 
Matt Bell and Naveen Rao finished second in the No. 64 K2R Motorsports Norma following a late-race rally from Bell, who restarted fifth with 28 minutes to go. Rao started the race from the pole position.
Third place went to the No. 54 MLT Motorsports Ligier JS P3 squad of Dickerson and Dean Baker.

 
Cameron Cassels and Hanratty came home fourth in the No. 75 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier, with Grist and Rob Hodes completing the top five in the No. 17 Nielsen Racing Norma.

 
In the Bronze Cup class for driver lineups that are exclusively Bronze-rated, Steven Thomas and Thomas Merrill took the victory in the No. 11 K2R Motorsports Ligier.

 
“The big piece of the credit goes to the K2R team for giving us a great strategy, Merrill said. “We were managing the conditions to our benefit and trying to stay out of pit lane as best we could. The conditions were tricky and so our job was to keep it on the island, keep the car in one piece and my job was to give Steven the car back in a good position that we could win our class and I’m happy to say we did that.”
“I started racing one year ago almost today was my first in a race car,” Thomas added. “Going from here to there, awesome. I want to thank Ross Bentley for helping me get there and for Thomas who has also been coaching me and has done awesome.”

 
Television coverage of the 2020 IMSA Prototype Challenge season opener from Daytona will air on NBCSN at 4:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 14. Next up for the series is a one-hour, 45-minute battle on the 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway circuit as part of the “Super Sebring” event week on Thursday, March 19. Live coverage of that race will be on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold in the United States and internationally available on IMSA.tv and the IMSA App. IMSA Radio will also carry the race live.

 

 
2020 Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona - Saturday Notebook

 
January 4, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
By HOLLY CAIN
IMSA Wire Service
 
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – News and notes from around Daytona International Speedway on the Saturday of the Roar Before the Rolex 24.

 
Hailie Deegan Ready To Gain Road Course Experience at Roar and Rolex 24

 
No, Hailie Deegan conceded with a wide grin, she never expected that her competitive debut on the famous Daytona International Speedway high banks would come in a sports car.
 
But judging by the smiles and ease she showed Saturday afternoon speaking with reporters at Daytona between Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona practice sessions, she’s eager and mentally prepared for her IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race debut at the grand track on Jan. 24. The in-car skills and sports car initiation is coming together too, she said.
 
“I never thought I’d race a road course especially at Daytona, that was new for me,’’ Deegan said. “I always thought my first time at Daytona would be in an ARCA car but I’m happy to be here on the road course.’’
 
Deegan‘s ARCA Menards Series season debut at Daytona will follow the Rolex 24 race weekend and comes only weeks after the 18-year old Californian was formally introduced as a Ford Performance development driver. She will co-drive a Ford Mustang GT4 with NASCAR Xfinity Series frontrunner Chase Briscoe in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Daytona later this month. Austin Cindric, another young Ford talent in the Xfinity Series, will be driving a Multimatic Motorsports Inc. team car as well, teaming with Sebastian Priaulx in the No. 15 Mustang.
 
In February, Deegan will compete in the season-opening ARCA Menards Series race that essentially opens Daytona Speedweeks – the green flag to a much-anticipated full season of stock car racing. All three of these young NASCAR stars say they are grateful for the chance to begin their season early, confident that the extra laps will only help their skillset.
 
“I’m really excited just to gain experience in these new cars,’’ Deegan said. “Just everything’s new. A fresh start. It’s waiting to get planned out, meeting new people, new faces, new relationships. I’m excited to grow the relationships in the Ford family and everyone that’s a part of it.
 
“One thing I haven’t really touched on in my career is road courses, pavement road course type stuff. Coming here and filling that base of what I’m missing as a driver as a hole is definitely going to help me be all around as a driver.
 
“I feel what makes a good driver is a driver that’s not just good at ovals or road courses they are good at everything and have that skill set. I think if I can just keep getting better skill sets to bring to my career, it will help even more.’’
 
Deegan and Briscoe certainly gave proof of their talent and ability to learn the new car and course. They were 14th fastest overall in the opening practice, ninth quickest in the second session and finally fifth best in the latest round.
 
Cindric and Priaulx were fourth fastest in the second session – tops among the two Multimatic team cars.
 
Kyle Busch Making Strides

 
Kyle Busch rolled into a Rolex 24 fan question-and-answer session Saturday afternoon between practice sessions sounding every bit as confident and optimistic as one would expect of the most recently crowned NASCAR Cup Series champion. 
 
The room had many kiddos and fans dressed in Busch’s NASCAR colors and sponsors. And he entered into the room joking and smiling, immediately instigating a fun give-and-take between his teammates on the two AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC GTD-class teams.
 
Busch teased New Zealand teammate Shane van Gisbergan, a former Australian Supercar champion, about translating speed from kilometers to miles per hour. And Busch joked about the slim chance that he would drive at night in his first Rolex 24. His teammates teased that the reigning NASCAR champ was already slated for the treacherous midnight-to-6 a.m. driving shift on the 3.56-mile Daytona road course.
 
“My eyes will be shut – sleeping or driving,’’ he said smiling.
 
Busch certainly looked comfortable. And his team clearly was. Busch’s teammate Jack Hawksworth turned in the fastest lap of the class on Friday, giving the team reason to feel good about its chances in the crowded 18-car GTD class. 
 
Hawksworth, a British IndyCar and sports car star, said he had complete confidence in his teammate.
 
“It’s been good fun,’’ Hawksworth said. “We just got to work and Kyle got in the car and was straightaway competitive.
 
“I don’t need to help him drive,’’ Hawksworth assured the audience, “just help transition his skills.’’
 
It will be Busch’s first Rolex 24 start, but not his first IMSA race at Daytona. In 2008 he teamed with Scott Speed in a Chip Ganassi-prepared prototype. And Busch said he’s done several go-kart endurance races, including a 24-hour event. Additionally, he said he was encouraged to hear his teammates this weekend expressing similar technical ideas regarding the Lexus race car as he had.
 
“You’ve certainly got to pay attention to your rearview mirror and know what’s going on around you and coming up behind you, the faster cars and a closing rate that’s certainly greater than you’re used to ever, even if you’re a slow guy on a (NASCAR) Sunday - it’s a big deal,’’ said Busch, who noted his NASCAR Cup Series spotter will be working the Rolex 24 with him.
 
The biggest adjustment he says is, “the sharing of the seat is interesting because you want to be in the car as much as possible so you can continue to evolve and make yourself better. For me, not being as experienced in these cars, they gave me the most seat time yesterday [in practice] which was good and beneficial. The other guys need their seat time too, however, so that’s certainly a big compromise.’’
 
Even the veteran Busch conceded he was excited to suit up and take on this next challenge – as were the many fans already on hand at Daytona International Speedway even for a practice session.
 
“There’s a ton of people here and we’re at a test,’’ Busch said. “I can’t even imagine what’s going to happen when we come back to the Rolex. It’s certainly awesome to see the crowd count and the interest people have in IMSA.’’
 
“I know I can’t wait,’’ said race fan Suzy Brake, 70, of The Villages, Florida, leaning forward to show off her green M&Ms adorned hat – Busch’s NASCAR Cup Series No. 18 large and center.
 
Acura Team Penske has eyes set on endurance races in 2020
 
After winning the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Daytona Prototype international (DPi) title, Acura Team Penske drivers have one goal in mind for the 2020 season – win endurance races.
 
The team returns the six drivers who piloted their pair of cars in the 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona and will maintain the same lineups. 2019 Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud will run the endurance races alongside last year’s season champions Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 6 car; 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi is the endurance driver joining full-season drivers Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 ride.
 
This marks the third season of Penske’s return to IMSA and it has been a successful venture – Castroneves and Taylor won a race (Mid-Ohio) in their inaugural campaign and the No. 6 car won three races and the DPi championship last year.
 
Pagenaud, who added a major piece of hardware to his mantle with the Borg Warner Trophy last May, wants to add to his collection to start the year.
 
“It’s a very important moment of the season, starting here at Daytona,” he said while speaking to media during the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. “It’s a pleasure to join them back and support them in the quest for another championship, but most importantly the bigger endurance races. I’m very excited about Daytona, certainly want to add that to the trophy list.”
 
The sentiment that their primary goal for the new year is to bring home the first endurance win for Acura Team Penske was echoed across the board by all six drivers.
 
“It was really good for the (No.) 6 car to get the championship and the three wins,” Taylor said. “So, for 2020 the last thing on the checklist is the endurance races. For the three of us, winning the Rolex would be the top of the priority list for this year.”
 
“I think when you’re at Team Penske, every week it’s a must-win situation,” Montoya added when asked what the emphasis from the team has been regarding the endurance race wins that have eluded them. “When you are with Acura and with Team Penske and you have the equipment you have in your hands, you’re supposed to deliver and that’s your job.”
 
But according to Castroneves, the plan regarding endurance races can be stated more simply.
 
“To win.”
  
No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R Team Has New Look, Same Goal

 
Wayne Taylor Racing’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship team took their seats on stage Saturday to speak with media showing off a new lineup of drivers, talking about the same team goals. A fourth Rolex 24 crown for their leader Taylor.
 
Taylor was joined on stage by Renger van der Zande, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon and Kamui Kobayashi. Natives of Holland, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, the star-studded driving lineup includes top-line sports car drivers in van der Zande and Briscoe, who will compete the full season for Taylor, along with Indianapolis 500 winner and five-time IndyCar champion Dixon and FIA World Endurance Championship champion Kobayashi.
 
Their accomplishments are as broad as their backgrounds. And that’s exactly why this No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi team fully expects to defend its 2019 Rolex 24 title and be a contender once again in a race it has won twice in the last three years.
 
“As far as the driver lineup, it’s as good or better than last year,’’ Taylor said, joking that this team would have to beat his two sons this year – Ricky and Jordan Taylor who are now both driving for different IMSA teams.
 
Dixon, who has a pair of Rolex 24 overall titles, joins Taylor’s operation after more than a decade competing in the race for his IndyCar team owner Chip Ganassi.
 
The team is a single-car team, but it’s got a lot of great people and that’s what I think it takes to win these races is to have the talent and people that have the same goal in mind, and that’s to win. You feel that immediately when you walk through the door…and you don’t find that too often,” Dixon said.
 
“There are four professional drivers who know what it takes to win because we have all won it and you start right away working with that,’’ van der Zande said. “This has been very smooth. They all know endurance racing and they all know this race.
 
“And we all have the same passion for racing,’’ he added.
 
Grand Marshal Christian Fittipaldi

 
Versatile racer Christian Fittipaldi will serve as Grand Marshal for the Jan. 25-26 Rolex 24 at Daytona – a race he won three times overall (2004, 2014 and 2018) and finished runner-up twice.
 
Fittipaldi will deliver the starting command for the Rolex, which traditionally kicks off the motor racing season.
 
“Daytona has brought me a lot more happy moments than bad moments,’’ Fittipaldi said. “I’ll cherish Daytona for the rest of my life. I managed to win the race three times and I think I finished another three or four times on the podium. I can’t complain, I had a pretty decent run over here.’’
 
Fittipaldi who competed in NASCAR and IndyCar as well as sports cars, retired from the cockpit last season and even being at the racetrack, conceded he was comfortable as a spectator.
 
“I don’t feel the need to be in the car, so far I’m very good. I come to the track and I’m happy to be at the track and happy to be able to help but if you ask me, would you like to be in the car right now, yeah, maybe I’m curious. If you ask me, do you want to be in the car right now. No, I don’t want to be in the car right now.
 
“My heart is 100 percent at peace.’’
Montecalvo, Keating Top Garage Qualifying Sessions at Roar

 
January 4, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Ben Keating was the fastest LMP2 qualifier and Frankie Montecalvo was the fastest in the GT Daytona (GTD) class in Saturday’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying sessions used to determine pit and garage spaces for the Rolex 24 At Daytona event week.

 
Keating ran a best lap of one minute, 38.056 seconds (130.694 mph) in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA 07 LMP2 machine he is co-driving with Nick Boulle, Simon Trummer and Gabriel Aubry. The Texan is pulling double duty at the Roar and will be again in three weeks at the 58th Rolex 24 At Dayton. He also is competing in the GTD class alongside co-drivers Gar Robinson, Lawson Aschenbach and Felipe Fraga in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3.

 
“It’s pretty exciting,” Keating said. “The car’s been great. Everybody at the PR1 team, they’ve got the car extremely well sorted. The last time I raced an LMP2 car was at Le Mans and I’ll just say the car wasn’t as well sorted. It’s nice to get in a car that has had a season or two under its belt to get everything sorted out and all I have to do is hop in and drive. It’s been really good.”

 
Henrik Hedman was second quickest in the 15-minute LMP2 qualifying session aboard the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA at 1:38.695 (129.848 mph), followed by Kyle Masson in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA at 1:38.712 (129.826 mph).

 
Meanwhile, in the 15-minute GTD session that immediately preceded LMP2, Montecalvo drove the No. 12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 to a best lap of 1:46.754 (120.046 mph). He is returning for the full 2020 WeatherTech Championship with co-driver Townsend Bell and will share the car with Shane van Gisbergen and Aaron Telitz for the Rolex 24.

 
“With the changing conditions, I think our car from AIM Vasser Sullivan suits this well,” Montecalvo said. “The team did a phenomenal car getting the RC F right on track from where we left off last year and that year of experience really shows for us. The guys did a great job.”

 
Second in GTD qualifying was 2019 WeatherTech Championship LMP2 champion Matt McMurry in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 at 1:46.873 (119.912 mph), followed by Robby Foley in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 with a lap of 1:46.919 (119.860 mph).

 
Similar qualifying sessions will be held early Sunday afternoon for the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) and GT Le Mans (GTLM) classes.

 
Speeds Increase in Night Practice
The fastest speeds of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend in all four WeatherTech Championship classes were posted during night practice on Saturday. Oliver Jarvis put up a time of one minute, 34.753 in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT-24P DPi car to lead the way at the end of two days of on-track activity at the Roar.

 
In the LMP2 class, it was Harrison Newey doing the honors in the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA 07 at 1:37.372. Laurens Vanthoor owns the fastest GTLM time of the weekend so far at 1:43.513 in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR and Franck Perera was quickest in GTD at 1:46.713 in the No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 at 1:46.713.

 
In addition to garage and pit stall qualifying for DPi and GTLM, Sunday’s on-track schedule for the WeatherTech Championship includes two more practice sessions. There also will be a pair of IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge sessions on Sunday.

 
BGB Commits to First Full Michelin Pilot Challenge Season Since 2013
Longtime IMSA team and Daytona Beach, Florida-based BGB Motorsports has confirmed its participation for the full IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season after several years of running only individual races. This weekend at the Roar Before the Rolex 24, team owner John Tecce and his protégé since the team’s inception, Tom Collingwood, are joined by Jan Heylen behind the wheel of the No. 38 Porsche 718 Cayman Clubsport GT4.

 
“We raced in GRAND-AM for pretty much as long as I’ve been doing this from ’02 and then we stopped in ’13,” Tecce explained. “I wanted to take a step back and start developing relationships with customers that wanted to grow from the club level up to the pro level.

 
“It just makes sense because we were an IMSA team forever and I feel like part of the IMSA family. The allure of the IMSA events – Sebring, Daytona – it’s just impossible for the guys to stay away from. They love the big show, the crowds, the hospitality, so it’s just a logical decision for us to come back and run a full season.”

 
The 10-race season starts with a four-hour enduro at the team’s home track, Daytona International Speedway, on Friday, January 24 at 1 p.m. ET. The race can be streamed live via TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold for viewers in the United States, and on IMSA.tv with IMSA Radio commentary for international viewers.

 

 

2020 Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona - Friday Notebook


 
January 3, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
Mazda Tops Roar Practice Charts for Second Straight Year

 
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Paraphrasing the immortal words of Forrest Gump, when it comes to finding speed at Daytona International Speedway over the last two years, the Mazda RT-24P and the 3.56-mile road course “go together like peas and carrots.”

 
Just as Oliver Jarvis did on Friday of the 2019 Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Olivier Pla placed the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest Daytona Prototype international (DPi) machine atop the time charts at the end of the first day of official practice for the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Pla posted a best lap of one minute, 35.794 seconds (133.780 mph) to lead a 1-2 sweep of top speeds for the team.

 
“Well, it was a good session and a nice way to rebound after we missed some time in the first practice,” said Pla, who joins Jarvis and Tristan Nunez as co-drivers of the No. 77 Mazda after sharing the team’s No. 55 entry in 2019. “We still have a long way to go and the team is working very hard to continue to improve the car, but obviously the Mazda RT-24P is working very well.

 
“This is a good first day of working with my new co-drivers, Olly and Tristan. We worked together a lot last year even though we were in different cars, but I am enjoying being in the No. 77.”

 
Last year, Jarvis ended the Roar weekend with an unofficial track record in the No. 77 machine, before officially breaking PJ Jones’ 26-year-old track record three weeks later en route to the Motul Pole Award for the 57th Rolex 24 At Daytona.

 
Jarvis was 0.080 seconds quicker than teammate Jonathan Bomarito in the No. 55 Mazda. Bomarito’s best lap was a 1:35.874 (133.669 mph) in the car he is sharing with Harry Tincknell – who led the day’s first practice session – and former IndyCar champion and Indy 500 winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay.

 
Simon Trummer led the way in the LMP2 class, posting a best lap of 1:38.315 (130.350 mph) in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA 07. Trummer’s co-drivers are Nick Boulle, Gabriel Aubry and Ben Keating.

 
Defending Rolex 24 GT Le Mans (GTLM) class winner Colton Herta was quickest in class aboard the No. 25 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE. His best lap in the car he is co-driving with Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng and Bruno Spengler was 1:44.239 (122.942 mph).

 
Whereas the fastest laps of the day in DPi, LMP2 and GTLM all came in the second session, the quickest lap in GT Daytona (GTD) was achieved in the first session by Jack Hawksworth in the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3. Hawksworth, who is sharing the ride with Parker Chase, Michael De Quesada and two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, posted a best lap of 1:47.031 (119.735 mph).

 
Bryan Herta Autosport mixing it up for 2020

 
More often than not, a championship-winning team will leave well enough alone and enter the next season prepared to defend with the same lineup.

 
But not Bryan Herta.

 
The owner and namesake of Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian is, in his words, “mixing it up” for the 2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season. And not only that, he and the team are adding a third car to the entry list for this year’s championship push.

 
Reigning Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR class champions Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis are back with the team, as are Harry Gottsacker and Mason Filippi, who drove the sister car in the Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian stable last year.

 
But this time, Wilkins and Gottsacker will pair together in the No. 21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR while Lewis and Filippi with co-drive the No. 98 car.

 
“We wanted to mix things up a little bit, I think keeping things fresh is important,” said Herta. “I feel like we could mix any two of these guys together in any car and it’s going to work. I feel like driving with a different co-driver, they’re all going to learn little tips that will help make each other better…they’re going to continue to learn and evolve and that’s part of the goal for what we’re doing.”

 
And with the addition of a third car, drivers Gabby Chaves and Ryan Norman have been added to the team to race that new entry. Chaves, the 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year while driving for Bryan Herta Autosport, embarks on his first full-time season in IMSA, while Norman joins the team after finishing fourth in the Indy Lights championship the last two seasons, then driving for Andretti Autosport.

 
“I’m really excited, it’s fantastic to be back with BHA,” said Chaves. “I’m very happy [to be in the IMSA paddock full-time], to have the full commitment this year really will take it to the next level. And to be able to fight for a championship and to be part of such a great team, I’m really, really excited for it.”

 
Norman is also thankful for the opportunity to make the jump to sports cars.

 
“Really excited to work with Gabby and everyone else on the team to bring a championship,” Norman added. “I definitely have a lot to learn, this is my first venture into sports car racing and IMSA racing, but I definitely think with everyone that is involved with this program that I’m going to be able to get up to speed pretty quickly.”

 
The good fortune that leads to allowing the team to expand, and their partnership with Hyundai in the process, is a source of pride for Herta.

 
“Extremely fortunate,” he said. “Hyundai’s commitment to motorsport is fairly new, but their appetite is to grow and to continue to do new things. We’re excited to be a motorsport partner for Hyundai and as they’re growing and getting more involved in motorsports, we look to do those things, too.”

 
Riley Dickinson wins prestigious IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship

 
Newly minted IMSA President John Doonan probably said it best today when he pointed out that he often encourages young, developing drivers to be “students of the game” because it’s essential they understand those who came before them on the track.

 
“To be a recipient of a scholarship with Hurley Haywood’s name attached to it is no small thing,” Doonan said.

 
That wasn’t lost on the 2020 recipient of the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship, 17-year-old Riley Dickinson from New Braunfels, Texas. The young driver came out on top after a two-day North American Porsche Young Driver Academy program that included one day of classroom activity and another of on-track sessions that helped determine the scholarship recipient.

 
“Having the opportunity this year, being able to represent someone like Hurley is something unbelievable,” Dickinson said when asked about the meaning of the scholarship. “It’s truly a great honor for me to be able to do.”

 
Winning the scholarship isn’t just about the ride for 2020, but about the process of getting there as well.

 
“I would like to give a huge thanks to everyone who made the Porsche Young Driver Academy possible,” stated Dickinson. “It was truly a professional, great experience for myself. I learned so much from it that I’ll be able to take with me for the rest of my life, whether that’s on-track or off-track.”

 
And Haywood had high praise for Dickinson’s performance at the Academy, especially with the growing depth of excellent drivers competing for the scholarship.

 
“When we combined with IMSA and the Hurley Haywood Scholarship with Porsche Cars North America, it expanded our pool of drivers that we were looking at,” said the five-time Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winner. “Every year, I think this is the 33rd driver lineup that we’ve had, we’ve been doing it for 11 years – every year the group of people that we get are just amazing. This last go-through, I was so impressed with the level of understanding that the drivers have, how they look at data.

 
“Riley immediately after the first run, knew what he wanted to look at. He came to the guys that were doing the data and pinpointed exactly where he felt he was weak. And sure enough, he looked at it, went out and solved the problem and went faster.”

 
Long the face of Brumos Porsche and oft-affiliated with its iconic red, white and blue scheme, Haywood’s mark in sports cars is legendary, with five Rolex 24 watches and three 24 Hours of Le Mans trophies to his credit.

 
Doonan added his thoughts to the enormity of the impact that Haywood has on the sport and the league he now oversees.

 
“Growing up as a fan of endurance racing, you pick your legends, you pick your heroes of the sport,” said the new IMSA president. “To be sitting up here in my new role, to be sitting here next to a gentleman who is truly a legend in our sport is quite special for me personally.”

 
The legend himself had some final light-hearted words regarding his expectations for the winner of the scholarship that bears his name. 

 
“I told him all he needs to do is win every single race and that would make me happy.”

 
New IMSA President John Doonan living out a second boyhood dream
The former director of motorsports for Mazda North America Operations, John Doonan “finally” saw cars on track as he officially started his third day as the new president of IMSA.

 
And he admitted that watching while in his new role is a bit of an adjustment.

 
“Little different not having a specific horse in the race,” Doonan said while speaking with media at Daytona International Speedway on the opening day of the Road Before the Rolex 24. “I sat back in my office for the first time all weekend and watched the first session quietly because I didn’t want to show any emotion on pit road for anybody in particular.

 
“I explained to some people who don’t necessarily understand sports car racing that I used to be responsible for the elephants in the circus, now I’m responsible for the whole circus.”

 
And being responsible for the whole circus means he gets a chance to expand on what has already been a dream career in motorsports as he takes over the reigns from the now-retired Scott Atherton.

 
“It was an awesome journey, a boyhood dream to work for Mazda,” said Doonan, who began working alongside Atherton and transitioning to his new role with the sanctioning body in October. “Several people in the garage area said I can’t believe you’re wearing a different shirt.

 
“But rarely do you get to live out two boyhood dreams. In February of ‘79, I was sitting in my living room with my family, at that time there were just regular, I don’t even think it was hourly, I think it was every six or eight hours they gave some updates from Daytona and the Rolex 24. To imagine being a young person like that, I spoke about being that next generation of wanting to be somehow in the game or be part of the action. And now to have had the opportunities I’ve had at Mazda and now to come here, it’s really hard to explain.”

 
For a leader who started in the sport as a fan, it’s especially important to him that he helps lead IMSA on a path that grows the audience of the sport he has a great passion for. And he knows he can’t do it alone.
“We – as a collective, and I continue to use the word ‘we’ and that’s not just ‘we’ IMSA, it’s ‘we’ the team owners, ‘we’ the drivers, ‘we’ the media – need to do our ever best to continue to grow our platforms and to grow our value,” Doonan asserted. “For me, it starts with our audience.”

 
“I think growing the audience, growing the outreach of how people can take in the IMSA content is critical. We also need to look at our audience, especially the younger generation.”

 
That will include developing initiatives to encourage fans to follow along with IMSA in new ways, such as through eSports or platforms like the newly launched TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

 
Another key tenet of Doonan’s leadership will be preserving and elevating the values that the France and Bishop families founded IMSA on.

 
“I’m honored to work for the France family,” he said. “I had a chance to talk with Jim France and then called Mitch Bishop. I said to both of them, IMSA was founded on a set of values that would allow racers, drivers, manufacturers to go racing on a variety of levels. It would be my personal goal to make that those original value statements of what IMSA was founded on are carried through to today.

 
“I think without a doubt the staff at IMSA has done that with a lot of passion. A lot of professionalism. And I’m here and fortunate enough to be the next caretaker of it.”

 
Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch takes to the track

 
Usually race fans have to wait until February to see the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion take to high banks of Daytona International Speedway, but Kyle Busch is providing a sweet treat to race fans this year as he joins Lexus for the 2020 Rolex 24 in the GTD class.

 
He’s in Daytona this weekend to turn laps in the No. 14 AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Lexus RC F GT3 alongside his co-drivers Jack Hawksworth, Parker Chase and Michael De Quesada.

 
It took a little persuading to get him behind the wheel of the sports car, but he didn’t want to lose the opportunity to try out the road course for the marquee event of the WeatherTech Championship season.

 
“I’ve been asked the last couple years by the folks at Toyota/Lexus to come out here and run their car, and I politely declined them the first couple times,” Busch told media today. “I felt like if I didn’t say yes eventually, then I would probably never be asked again.”

 
Busch has turned laps on the Daytona road course before – over a decade ago in a Daytona Prototype with Scott Speed in the summer sprint race in 2008. And he hopes this time he fares better.

 
“It was a thousand degrees inside the car, we had the NASCAR race that night, I remember just being flushed after that race was over, it was so hot,” he said. “We didn’t fare too well. I was slow. The car was slow. We were slow. So, I’m looking forward to being a bit faster this time around.”

 
He’s relying heavily on his teammate Hawksworth for advice as he gets used to the lighter weight and overall different feel of the Lexus compared to the Toyota Camry he pilots in NASCAR. Hawksworth traveled to the Charlotte area to spend a day on the simulator with Busch at TRD. Without Hawksworth’s guidance at the session, “I probably would have been completely lost,” said Busch.

 
After this first practice session, Busch admitted that he still has his “NASCAR driving techniques just embedded in (his) brain” and he has to shed them as he learns the differences in the car.

 
He also acquiesces that his biggest adjustment is to the braking.

 
“I’m used to our big heavy stock cars where you have to start the slowdown process early, the braking zone is forever, and then by the time you turn in you have to be off the brakes otherwise the inside wheels will lock up,” he said. “You also have to take care of our brakes on the Cup cars because they’re so heavy…you can really overheat them.

 
“Completely different techniques. On these cars, you can drive the snot out of them.”

 
The car Busch is driving was fast in the opening practice session. In fact, his co-driver Hawksworth put up the fastest time of the day for the GTD class. Busch’s speed was middle of the pack as he learned the car, with his fastest lap clocking in at 1:48.544 (118.066 mph).

 
But for all the differences, one thing remains the same. Busch wants to make his way to Victory Lane at the end of the race.

 
“I didn’t come here to completely have fun, of course I want to have fun,” he said. “But more importantly I want to be able to go out there and win for Lexus and for AIM VASSER SULLIVAN racing.”
 

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Upcoming Events
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GEAR Racing Rises From The Ashes

The No. 19 GEAR Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 motored down the Sebring International Raceway pit lane shortly before 1 p.m. during a Wednesday test session.

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Sebring International Raceway - Wednesday Testing Notebook

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams testing at Sebring International Raceway got a small taste of wet conditions early Wednesday before the skies cleared and the track dried out by late morning.

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TPC Racing Returns To IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA And Canada With Nine-Car Effort

TPC Racing unveiled a driver line-up for the 2020 IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama racing series that features eight drivers and one iron man pulling double duty in both championships.

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Race Preview: Porsche GT3 Cup USA Starts 2020 Season

Series to run at Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for the first time.

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992-Gen Porsche 911 Spotted In The Wild

Spy photographers have caught the new 992-generation 911 doing some winter testing without a shred of camouflage and we’ve got to say, it’s looking great.

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Goikhberg, McMurry Leaning on Teammates in Transition
to Meyer Shank Racing Acura

 
Feb. 20, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
SEBRING, Fla. – Among the eight drivers entered in this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona for Meyer Shank Racing and its sister team Heinricher Racing, only two drivers were in the same seat as last year.

 
Mario Farnbacher and AJ Allmendinger returned in the team’s No. 86 Acura NSX GT3, with Farnbacher once again tapped as the full-season driver and Allmendinger swapping his helmet for a headset with NBC for the remainder of the season.

 
Meanwhile, Trent Hindman – who with Farnbacher was crowned the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) champion – made the transition from the No. 86 to Jackie Heinricher’s No. 57 entry for the four IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup rounds this year.
Then it gets interesting.

 
Two of the team’s full-season drivers are making their return to the Shank camp after brief hiatuses. In the No. 57, Alvaro Parente will be back behind the wheel of MSR machinery for the first time since 2018. In the No. 86, it’s 2019 WeatherTech Championship LMP2 champion Matt McMurry alongside Farnbacher.

 
“It’s great to be joining Meyer Shank Racing again,” said McMurry, who also interned with Honda Performance Development this past summer. “I raced with them back in [2015] when they were still running prototypes. It’s great to be back with them again and with some great teammates like Mario Farnbacher.”

 
McMurry admits the transition from a prototype to a GT3 car is a leap, but that he’s got some help to adjust.

 
“There’s quite a big difference from P2 to GT, especially around a place like Sebring,” said McMurry while testing at Sebring International Raceway, the next stop on the WeatherTech Championship calendar next month. “This GT3 car handles the bumps quite a bit differently, so that’ll take a little bit of getting used to. But I think we’ve got a great team and great teammates to help get me up to speed quickly.”

 
If there’s anyone that can relate to McMurry, it’s Misha Goikhberg, one of three new drivers to join the two-car Acura team this year. Alongside his full-season co-driver Parente, Goikhberg made his GT debut at the 2020 Rolex 24 following a prototype career that has spanned the past five seasons in the WeatherTech Championship.

 
“It’s a team with a lot of wins, just fresh off a championship, so it’s a car that’s already very well developed,” said Goikhberg. “I think their strength is their ability to bring new people in and to get them up to speed quickly, so both me and Matt are fortunate to be able to draw upon experience from guys like Mario and Trent, who have been here for a while.

 
“Alvaro is very experienced, one of the best GT drivers in the world. For both of us, there’s a big body of experience there we could lean upon, and that’s been very helpful, so we’ve been very fortunate in that regard.”

 
The other two drivers new to Meyer Shank and Heinricher at Daytona were Shinya Michimi and Jules Gounon. While Gounon’s role was specific only to the Rolex 24, Michimi – who has a successful background in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America series – continues with the No. 86 for the remaining Michelin Endurance Cup rounds.

 
Looking ahead to the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on March 18-21, compatibility doesn’t seem to be an issue for the mix of the established team drivers and newcomers. The six drivers entered for next month’s race often were huddled up during their Sebring test days.

 
What about the relationship off the racetrack? Well, that could get interesting too.

 
“Thankfully, they haven’t gotten me into any big trouble yet,” McMurry joked about his new teammates. “They’re trying to, for sure. I’m sure they’ll get us to do something stupid at some point during the year, but I’ve been safe so far.”

 
The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts is set for Saturday, March 21. The race starts at 10:40 a.m. on CNBC. It can also be streamed on the NBC App with authentication and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio will have coverage available at IMSARadio.com, RadioLeMans.com and Sirius XM.

 
Tickets are available now at SebringRaceway.com.

 

 

Fortune Reversal at Daytona for KohR Motorsports Following Late Switch to Aston Martin

 
Feb. 14, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – After back-to-back years of poor results at Daytona International Speedway, KohR Motorsports finally was given a reason to celebrate.

 
Finishes of 23rd in 2018 and 27th in 2019 in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport (GS) class followed the team into 2020, and the odds seemed stacked against them once again this year.

 
In a surprising announcement the week before the season-opening BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona last month, the longtime Ford competitor made a switch to Aston Martin, so much so even the team was surprised at the decision.

 
However, a closer examination of Aston Martin's ladder system caught the eye of Mike Stacy and his 20-year-old son Nate, the latter of whom has driven with KohR and co-pilot Kyle Marcelli since his IMSA debut in late 2017. The team had brief conversations about the Aston Martin previously, but nothing extensive until learning more about the marque's driver development program.

 
"The topic of the Aston Martin came back, especially with Aston Martin debuting the GT3 program," said Team Owner Dean Martin. "Aston Martin does have a Driver Academy, and there are a lot of opportunities with the Aston. We talked about it, and I said to Mike, 'Let's sleep on this and wake up tomorrow with a clear head and fresh eyes after we've really had some time to think about it and then decide.'

 
"Around about 10 in the morning, I got a text to me, Nate, Kyle and one of our other guys that said, 'Welcome to our new Aston Martin program for 2020.' That's when my life went sideways. You know, we were coming up on the holidays. We hadn't even spoken to Aston Martin about being able to get a car."

 
In an ironic twist, KohR hadn't planned to run at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona test on January 3-5, but only because they still had their Ford Mustang GT4 and the car's data from past years. They wound up not attending because they wouldn't take delivery of their new Aston Martin Vantage GT4 until January 9.

 
A handful of testing days in the next two weeks would be all the drivers and teams would have before racing at Daytona. But it was enough.

 
Stacy would go on to qualify the No. 60 "Race for RP"-liveried Aston Martin Vantage GT4 in the fourth position and between him, Marcelli and the team's work in the pits, KohR held on to a fifth-place result.
"Coming into Daytona, it was a big question mark on if we had a long-distance car, and I think considering the small amount of testing we had, it went spectacularly," said Stacy. "The car ran smoothly, and we had a clean, solid finish for our first race of the season. Compared to the last two years of my IMSA career, this is the best I've ever finished Daytona. Starting the season off with 26 points instead of 8 could be a serious game changer!"

 
Marcelli echoed his co-drivers sentiments, as especially the 2018 race at Daytona continues to haunt KohR.
 
"We are pretty thrilled to start the season with a top-five because we have left Daytona the past two years with a DNF, and that makes for a long season of playing catch up," said Marcelli. "We were able to rebound pretty quickly in 2018 and go on to finish second in the championship, but in 2019, we struggled to just get back inside the championship's top-five by the end."

 
While they did squeeze in to finish fifth in the standings by eight points, this year's race at Daytona makes it a little easier to go after the 2020 championship. Also, making it more accessible is how the transition to the Aston Martin has been an overall positive experience.

 
"Switching to the Aston Martin has been amazing so far," Stacy explained. "I couldn't ask for much more support from the factory, and I have to thank the guys from KohR Motorsports for being so adaptable with all the new challenges. The Aston is a very user-friendly car, finding the limit isn't too difficult. It's just a matter of maximizing its strong suits."

 
"The Aston is a very well built and well-engineered car, especially as a race car, it's very easy to work on," Martin agreed. "Learning the little nuances that this car likes is the challenge. It responds well to changes, and the electronics are extremely well engineered and designed.

 
"As the year progresses and we've got to work on the car more and more, we'll learn it. We've got a great group of guys with a lot of experience, so it hasn't been very difficult. But in fairness, we haven't had any real challenges with the car to date."

 
With the team's dark cloud of Daytona turned bright, they are focused on the upcoming races and securing a title. As far as which rung Stacy is at in Aston Martin's ladder system, Martin speaks highly of the one he's on.

 
"If you're trying to progress your career in racing, Pilot Challenge is the only place to be," said Martin. "You're racing against the most talented guys, and even some of these guys are (IMSA) WeatherTech (SportsCar Championship) drivers and WeatherTech pros. The depth of talent in the Pilot field is pretty significant. In my opinion, if you're going to develop as a driver, this is where you need to be."

 
It's just over one month before the second round of the 2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season, with the next stop at Sebring International Raceway on March 18-21. The two-hour Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 goes green on Thursday, March 19, at 3:50 p.m. ET and can be streamed live exclusively on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio will also have live radio coverage throughout the weekend on RadioLeMans.com.

 
Tickets are available at www.SebringRaceway.com.

 

Rahal Still Relishing Total Team Effort Toward Second Straight
Rolex 24 At Daytona Victory

 
Feb. 11, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It was the most intense battle in the 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona, and it went on for hours.

 
In one corner, you had the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE shared by John Edwards, Jesse Krohn, Augusto Farfus and Chazz Mostert. In the other, it was a Porsche GT Team “tag-team” with Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR and Nick Tandy, Frederic Makowiecki and Matt Campbell in the team’s No. 911 entry.

 
Those three cars fought tooth-and-nail for GT Le Mans (GTLM) class supremacy all night long, and really, right up to the checkered flag.

 
“Don’t forget, Ferrari was in there for a while, and the Corvettes were in there for a while, too,” said BMW Team RLL co-owner Bobby Rahal. “It wasn’t just us and the Porsches. Everybody jumped in. Over time, the Ferrari had issues towards the end, but with two-and-a-half or three hours to go, they were still on the lead lap and they were still in the hunt.

 
“The [No. 4] Corvette had a problem early on like our other car did, but all race long, if you looked at it at any given time, it could have gone to anybody. In the end, it was a shootout between us and the Porsche team. How does that get any better? BMW versus Porsche, all good.”

 
It was especially good for the No. 24 team, which delivered BMW Team RLL’s second consecutive victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. But whereas the 2019 win by the team’s No. 25 entry – which also was the team’s most recent IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory – was a product of strategy, heady driving and being at the right place at the right time in what was a rain-shortened race, this year’s win by the No. 24 squad was a straight-up battle.

 
“The ’19 race, there were rumblings in the paddock, ‘Well, that wasn’t 24 hours, you guys kind of lucked into it, blah, blah, blah,’ which I think was unfair,” Rahal recalled. “We weren’t the fastest by any stretch of the imagination, but we had great pit strategy and a super job by Augusto Farfus in the wet with the [No. 25] car. More than anything, it was a great strategic call in the pits. Between the two of those things, that’s what really won us the race, aside from the fact that the car ran beautifully in really ugly conditions.

 
“This year was just a battle. It was brutal. It was flat out right from the start. We kind of knew what we had, but we didn’t know what Porsche had and we didn’t know what Corvette had because they had brand-new cars. You suspected that they were going to be really strong, but you still didn’t really know.

 
“Our fears, or our expectations, were realized and in the end, it really came down to a gunfight. I think the last two hours in the GTLM class were as good as it gets, let alone the previous 22. To win the race under those conditions – I won’t compare ’19 to ’20 because they were very different – but all I can tell you is it’s a huge accomplishment for our team and something that we’ll look back on very fondly.”

 
As one might expect, there was an assortment of critical moments and highlights throughout the 24 hours. The No. 24 car had an issue in an early pit stop that dropped it from battling for the lead to last in class and a lap down to the leaders. But a rare and well-timed full-course caution brought the team back to the lead battle.

 
And while the No. 24 team’s battle looked like one against two with both Porsches, and the No. 25 BMW – which encountered early issues of its own that removed it from contention for a second consecutive Rolex 24 win – made significant contributions to the No. 24 team.

 
“The No. 25 car that had some problems, all during the race they were, in effect, testing tires for us,” Rahal said. “We had been on the medium compound tire and we think the Porsche was on the soft for a lot of the race. We had softs that we would run maybe at night and as it got warmer, maybe we’d go to the mediums, but the 25 car became kind of the guinea pig.

 
“They would go out and run segments with one tire or the other and report back. They’d say, ‘No, we don’t think that’s going to have the longevity that you’re going to need.’ In the end, I think that was a huge contributor to the success.”

 
Rahal was especially proud of – and for – his pair of full-season co-drivers in the No. 24 machine, Edwards and Krohn.

 
“Poor John Edwards, last year if something bad was going to happen in a race, luck-wise, he was going to get it,” Rahal said. “I mean, it was crazy. If there was anybody I was really pleased for, it was John. It’s been a tough couple of years for him. He deserved it. He’s been a great teammate and a great driver for us.

 
“And Jesse, what really struck me was when he got out of that car after the race and he said, ‘Thank you for asking me to bring it home.’ That just meant a lot. Of course, we’re thanking him for doing a great job, but he was thanking us for putting him in that position. I love that kind of passion. In any sport, there are guys that you want to count on when the chips are down, and Jesse earned a position as one of those guys.”

 
Next up for the WeatherTech Championship is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on Saturday, March 21. The race starts at 10:40 a.m. on CNBC. It can also be streamed on the NBC App with authentication and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio will have coverage available at IMSARadio.com, RadioLeMans.com and Sirius XM.

 
Tickets are available now at SebringRaceway.com

 

Doonan’s First 100 Days as IMSA President Bring Big News, Big Momentum

 
Feb. 7, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – John Doonan’s first 100 days as IMSA President included a whirlwind tour, one of the most significant announcements in sports car racing history and one of the most successful Rolex 24s ever.

 
Doonan joined the company on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, and for those scoring at home, that was 108 days ago. The former Mazda Motorsports Director hit the ground running with a clear plan of attack last fall.

 
Hitting The Road
“I made a promise to (IMSA Chairman) Mr. (Jim) France and (IMSA CEO) Ed (Bennett) that I would get out and see as many of our stakeholders as I could in my first 100 days,” Doonan said. “That starts with WeatherTech and Michelin and with all of our manufacturer partners and our race promoters.”

 
Aside from the promoters, who all were gathered in one location for a promoter meeting with IMSA last fall, Doonan’s stakeholder visits throughout the brief offseason were almost door-to-door in nature. Doonan wouldn’t have had it any other way.

 
“I felt it was important to get out and see them on their turf, in their offices, to reaffirm my understanding of their objectives – both on the technical and competition side, as well as on the marketing side,” he said. “Even though I was 30, 60, 90 days ago in the same seat as an OEM partner, I wanted to make sure I immersed myself in their brand and their brand’s objectives. Fortunately, we were able to accomplish those key items.”

 
Historic Convergence
At the same time as Doonan’s roadshow, he became more intimately involved in the process of defining the future direction for race cars in the top category of not only the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship but also the 24 Hours of Le Mans and endurance racing globally. The result was the historic Jan. 24 announcement of convergence between IMSA and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO). Doonan joined France, Bennett, ACO President Pierre Fillon and FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) CEO Gerard Neveu in delivering the news to an enthusiastic audience.

 
“There were lots of people invested,” Doonan said. “Lots of time, effort, blood, sweat and tears into hopefully one day coming up with a set of regulations that would allow convergence. Then, to be a part of that is honestly one of those ‘pinch me’ moments in your career.

 
“We all sat in the final signing of the agreement with Mr. France and Mr. Fillon, and you’re realizing that you’re part of a historic moment in our sport and in the industry. For me, that was incredible to be a part of, knowing full well that for the last 40 years, perhaps, everybody’s always wanted that convergence.

 
“So many people, from the France family to Ed Bennett to (former IMSA President) Scott Atherton to (late IMSA Vice Chairman) Mr. (Don) Panoz, everybody had hoped for that moment. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be part of it. I’m very appreciative and grateful that I was here to be part of that.”

 
Record-Setting Rolex 24
The good vibes reverberating throughout the motorsports industry following the convergence announcement carried right into the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend, which was greeted by well-deserved, sunny weather.

 
“I was thinking about 2019 and how torrential the rains were and how tough that was on the whole system,” Doonan recalled. “I don’t care if you were in the infield as a spectator, as a team member, as a staff person or somebody trying to put on a television broadcast, that race was probably one of the most difficult of all time for everyone involved.

 
“I kept thinking, just praying, ‘At least give us good weather. At least give everybody who experienced 2019 a reprieve.’ Obviously, from the first day there, we were blessed with incredible weather and very little precipitation. For the key days when we needed it most, it was spectacular. That’s the foundation, certainly, for (Daytona International Speedway President) Chip Wile and everybody at the Speedway, and all the fans who travel from around the world to be here, and then for the participants.”

 
A record crowd enjoyed the weather and contributed to an electric atmosphere throughout the facility. The weather also undoubtedly added to the record distance achieved on the racetrack of 833 laps – 25 more laps than the previous record. For his part, Doonan was trying to absorb his first Rolex 24 as President of IMSA.

 
“It was just trying to take in all those moments and remember why I love this so much and why we – as IMSA – do this,” he said. “I had the opportunity to speak to the manufacturers at the Chairman’s Breakfast [Saturday morning] as well as the driver’s meeting and I said, ‘One of the many things I love about the Rolex 24 is – if you look back at the history – Bill France Sr.’s vision was to provide an event that brought the best in the world to Daytona. The best cars, the best drivers, the best race teams for a grueling test of man, woman and machine.’

 
“That’s what the Rolex 24 is today. It’s what the [three-hour] Continental race was in the early ‘60s. People come from all over the world. I love the International Horseshoe. It’s got all the flags of the drivers that are participating. No matter what language they speak, what country they’re from, what carmaker brand is on their shirt, when we come together, there is one common language that everybody is speaking. That’s the passion for this sport.”

 
Team Player
Passion is a word often used to describe many within the IMSA community. Doonan has had a passion for sports car racing going back to his earliest days, and he was encouraged to find that he’d inherited an entire team of like-minded individuals at IMSA.

 
“One of the beauties of coming in was, I knew a lot of the faces and knew as many of the names as I could over the years that I was a participant,” he said. “I always knew a group of people were putting the events on. A group of people were organizing all the details. Still, when you see it in person, it’s remarkable when you understand what goes into it and the group of people that make up this organization.

 
“I couldn’t be more proud to be part of this team. I think when you’re on the outside and you’re showing up to an event and everything’s already done and prepared, that’s one piece of it, but how much effort goes into it? The amount of effort and the talent and everything became far more evident when you see it firsthand. It’s just like anything else when you actually lay your eyes on it and you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with the people that are making it happen, I have a far better understanding of what goes into actually running the championships than I did before. And more appreciation.”

 
The Road Ahead
With the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship now underway and the Rolex 24 in the rearview mirror, there remains much work to be done. The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts is 42 days away, but just like it was for the Rolex 24, it’ll be here before you know it.

 
So what are the priorities for Doonan’s next 100 days?

 
“In working with the great staff here, we’ve identified some critical objectives,” he said. “We want to continue to grow the audience and leverage our fantastic partnership with NBC to do that. There’s a big focus on that with the marketing and communications side of the house.

 
“The technical team continues to work and refine the BoP process and that next set of technical regulations to be announced at Sebring. I think there are some other key initiatives that we’ve talked about a little bit here and there. We need to continue to find ways to grow our audience by identifying our next generation of fans through programs like e-gaming and spreading the word about IMSA Green.

 
“We re-engaged our relationship with the Department of Energy at the Rolex 24, and making sure that strategically, we continue to leverage the IMSA Green story. How can we do that in a way that engages with our fanbase the most and also gives the OEM partners a chance to showcase it? The convergence and the addition of a single-source hybrid is another step towards that.

 
“I want to focus on getting out and seeing as many of our race teams and their operations around the country as possible. Those would be the primary focuses and looking towards getting the final set of regulations put together on the top category.”

 
Let the next roadshow begin.

 

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Upcoming Events
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IMSA Heads To Sebring With Momentum On Its Side

Momentum is what IMSA will be carrying forward to Sebring in March after a successful edition of this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona.

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Tom Kristensen To Be Grand Marshal At SuperSebring

One of the greatest names in the history of international sports car racing, Tom Kristensen, has today been named as Grand Marshal for SuperSebring.

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The 2020 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA By Yokohama Kicks Off In St. Petersburg

16-race season to be broadcast on NBCSN and streamed live at IMSA.tv.

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2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Production Is Officially Underway

Chevrolet announced the production line at the Bowling Green, Kentucky, manufacturing facility has whirred to life.

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IMSA, Wayne Taylor Racing Celebrate Rolex 24 Victory With NASDAQ Closing Bell Ceremony

There is no better place in the world to celebrate a big victory than New York City, and that is what IMSA, Wayne Taylor Racing and their sponsors did.

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Daytona ROKU Hagerty Merchandise
 

 

IMSA Heads to Sebring with Momentum on its Side

 
February 5, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Momentum is what IMSA will be carrying forward to Sebring in March after a successful edition of this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona.

 
"We could not be prouder of the performance of everyone involved with the 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona," said IMSA President John Doonan. "From every aspect and group, it was a great way to kick off our 2020 season.

 
"Our race teams, drivers, partners and manufacturers produced a race weekend that will be remembered for years to come. The staff of Daytona International Speedway and IMSA hit all of their marks in delivering another world-class event for our most important client - the fans. As we look ahead to SuperSebring, the momentum we have fostered is sure to carry over and produce an even bigger and better event that weekend."

 
The twice-around-the-clock season opener for the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, won overall for the third time in four years by the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi, featured the most laps (833) and miles (2,965.48) completed by lead-lap cars in the event's history.

 
The record distance was a product of a limited amount of full-course caution periods. The race was slowed just six times for a total of 28 laps (one hour and 43 minutes) and included an overnight period under green-flag conditions for more than seven hours.

 
Around the racetrack, race fans were everywhere. It was hard to see the cars in photos from the pre-race grid walk as fans swarmed the event to take part in the IMSA tradition of being up close to their favorite team before the waving of the green flag.

 
NBC Sports began its second season of IMSA coverage in grand fashion broadcasting the start and finish of the race was broadcast on network television for the first time. There were 17 announcers on hand to deliver all of the action to those fans at home from pit stops to interviews with drivers during 16 ½ hours of coverage on NBC and NBCSN.

 
Live flag-to-flag coverage on the NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com, the WeatherTech Championship debut of TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold, IMSA.tv and the IMSA App contributed to 99 ½ hours of coverage provided to fans over five different linear and digital platforms.

 
And speaking of online video, IMSA's social media channels video views doubled 2019’s record numbers. The 2020 Rolex 24 also delivered a double-digit percent increase in social media impressions over the 2019 event.

 
On the corporate partner front, IMSA announced a multi-year agreement with CTech before the Rolex 24. There are upcoming announcements of new partners expected in the coming weeks.

 
All of these positive metrics set the stage for a highly successful 2020 season that continues at Sebring International Raceway for the 68th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on the weekend of March 18-21. Another strong field of upwards of 40 cars is expected to participate in America's oldest endurance race, with the entry list set to be released the week before the event.

 
The SuperSebring event weekend, which also includes Friday's 1000 Miles of Sebring FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) event along with Michelin Pilot Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge races, saw a record crowd on hand last year. Attendance seems to be trending in a similar direction for 2020 as well, as the track recently announced its earliest sellout ever for reserved trackside RV camping spaces.

 
NBC Sports' coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring begins on CNBC at 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 21 and includes a seven-and-a-half-hour window on NBCSN. Complete, flag-to-flag coverage also is available with cable or satellite authentication on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com, and to TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold subscribers.

 
IMSA Radio will have live coverage throughout the weekend on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, with complete race coverage also airing on SiriusXM Radio.

 
Tickets are available now from SebringRaceway.com.

 
Event

BMW Endurance challenge at daytona

It’s time to kick back and tune in for the first NBC Sports broadcast for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge! On Thursday, February 6 at 1 p.m. ET, tune your TVs to NBCSN to catch the BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona International Speedway. It’s the first race of the year, so teams will want to start 2020 off right!

Catch all the series news and updates on IMSA.com or IMSA social media using the hashtag
#IMPC.

Tune-In Schedule

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RACE

BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona

Thursday, February 6, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM ET
NBCSN

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Kristensen Named SuperSebring Grand Marshal
Record-breaking Dane will wave flag for IMSA and WEC races in March

 
February 3, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
Daytona Beach, Fla. – One of the greatest names in the history of international sports car racing, Tom Kristensen, has today been named as Grand Marshal for SuperSebring. 

 
The record-breaking Dane will wave the green flag for both the FIA World Endurance Championship’s 1000 Miles of Sebring on Friday, March 20, and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s headline 68th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on Saturday, March 21.

 
“It’s a great honor to be named Grand Marshal for both events and I can’t wait to be back at Sebring,” Kristensen said. “The particular challenges of this historic track are still clear in my mind, and the event always has such fantastic competitors and fans! I consider myself very lucky to have won the 12-hour race seven times and have so many great memories of incredible battles over the years. You have to be tough to win at Sebring – both the car and the driver – and the slogan “Respect the bumps” is one of the truest in all motorsport.” 

 
Known affectionately as “Mr. Le Mans,” the 2013 World Endurance Champion holds the record for the most overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1997, 2000-2005, 2008, 2013) and at the Twelve Hours of Sebring (1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2012). The same as for last year’s Grand Marshal, Allan McNish, Kristensen’s last victory at Sebring – alongside the Scot and Dindo Capello – was on the occasion of the WEC’s first ever race on March 18, 2012.

 
The naming of Tom Kristensen as Grand Marshal comes one week after the historic IMSA-ACO convergence announcement at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the one race during an illustrious career in which he never participated despite being a long-time ambassador for Rolex. 

 
“Tom Kristensen earned legendary status in endurance racing through his many successes at both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts,” IMSA President John Doonan said. “His records at both events may never be broken, making him a natural choice for this prestigious honor. We’re proud to welcome Tom as the Grand Marshal for SuperSebring 2020. With our recent historic announcement of convergence at the Rolex 24, Tom is the perfect example of a driver who has competed on both major stages that will soon become one common top platform.”

 
Kristensen has the distinction of winning in every category of motorsport in which he has raced, and has chalked up countless international wins and championships including the German and Japanese F3 championships in his earlier days and the 2001 American Le Mans Series and 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship in the second half of his career. He has also raced successfully in F3000, Formula Nippon, DTM, British Touring Cars and was a test driver in Formula One.

 
“There are many endurance drivers who have achieved success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Sebring, but there is only one Mr Le Mans,” WEC CEO Gérard Neveu said. “Tom’s incredible career speaks for itself and his record number of victories at Sebring as well as Le Mans make him the perfect Grand Marshal for this second consecutive SuperSebring event. We are truly delighted that he has agreed to take on this role, and we know that he will be greeted by everyone around the track with the respect and admiration that he deserves.”

 
NBC Sports' coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring begins on CNBC at 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 21 and includes a seven-and-a-half-hour window on NBCSN. Complete, flag-to-flag coverage also is available with cable or satellite authentication on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com, and to TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold subscribers.

 
IMSA Radio will have live coverage throughout the weekend on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, with complete race coverage also airing on SiriusXM Radio.
Tickets are available now from SebringRaceway.com.
IMSA, WAYNE TAYLOR RACING CELEBRATE
ROLEX 24 VICTORY WITH NASDAQ CLOSING BELL CEREMONY

 
January 31, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
NEW YORK, NY. – There is no better place in the world to celebrate a big victory than New York City, and that is what IMSA, Wayne Taylor Racing and their sponsors did Friday.

 
In celebration of the team's Rolex 24 At Daytona win last weekend, team owner Wayne Taylor, driver Ryan Briscoe and representatives from team sponsors Konica Minolta and Cadillac rang the Closing Bell at the NASDAQ Stock Market.

 
"What an honor, and it was much bigger than I thought it would be," team owner Wayne Taylor said. "I don't remember being that nervous about making a speech. It is great to have this happen for us to give back to all of our sponsors including Cadillac and Konica Minolta that were here today. Without them, this third victory in four years would have never have happened."

 
Millions saw the market's closing as it was broadcast across a variety of networks, including CNBC and Bloomberg, among others in the United States. Fans of the team and IMSA were also able to watch on a live stream from NASDAQ Times Square studio.

 
"That was a new experience for me," Briscoe said after the event. "It is always nice to be in the city and ringing the closing bell at the NASDAQ is a tremendous honor. To do this and to be with Wayne, Cadillac and Konica Minolta, it is just a massive moment to celebrate our win at the Rolex 24. I am proud to be a part of this.

 
While driving at speeds of upwards of 190 miles per hour would make anyone nervous, Briscoe said the event brought on more pressure than winning the Rolex 24.

 
"Please put me back behind the wheel of my car," he said with a smile. "That is so much easier than having to do this! It was fun, and it is great to celebrate the win and to thank our sponsors on one of the world's biggest stages."

 
Following the ceremony, the group ventured out into Times Square to see themselves, and highlights from the race, on a massive seven-story video board located on the façade of the NASDAQ building.

 
For team sponsors, the day was equally exciting as both companies have ties to the New York City area. Konica Minolta's United States headquarters are in Ramsey, New Jersey, a short 45-minute drive from the city.

 
"This was a spectacular event today," Sam Errigo, EVP Sales & Business Development, Konica Minolta said. "We are so proud of Wayne Taylor Racing and the entire team for their victory at the Rolex 24 last weekend. They have won three out of the last four, and to celebrate their victory by doing this today was a great experience for everyone involved.

 
"Konica Minolta is a technology-based company. We have linked our company's technology with our future direction of speed and agility, and that aligns so well with racing. When you have that combination, you see the results such as Wayne winning another Rolex 24."

 
"This was a fantastic event today to celebrate what happened over the weekend with the win by Wayne Taylor Racing," said Rory Harvey, Vice President Sales, Service and Marketing, Cadillac. "It was a great team effort by everyone involved to get the victory, and we at Cadillac are looking forward to the rest of the season."

 
The Closing Bell was a perfect way for IMSA to celebrate the Rolex 24 and the start of the WeatherTech Championship season. Last year the sanctioning body visited the market before the race.

 
The next race on the WeatherTech Championship schedule is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on March 21.

 
NBC Sports' coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring begins on CNBC at 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 21 and includes a seven-and-a-half-hour window on NBCSN. Complete, flag-to-flag coverage also is available with cable or satellite authentication on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com, and to TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold subscribers.

 
IMSA Radio will have live coverage throughout the weekend on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, with complete race coverage also airing on SiriusXM Radio.

 

 

The 2020 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Season
Will Be Here Before We Know It

 
January 30, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – There is much anticipation for the start of the 2020 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season as for the first time ever, the series will join the annual Streets of St. Petersburg event, dubbed St. Pete’s “Premier Motorsports Festival.”

 
With a waterside view, GT3 Cup Challenge USA’s opening doubleheader will take place alongside the IndyCar Series, Indy Lights and more on March 13-15.

 
The GT3 Cup Challenge USA series has proven to be a successful stage for driver development and advancement in recent years and as a result, its reach and the competitiveness continues to grow each year.

 
GT3 Cup Challenge USA includes two classes of race cars – the Platinum Cup class for 911 GT3 Cup machines built since 2017, and Gold Cup for cars built between 2014-2016. The Platinum Cup class also has a Masters category, which rewards drivers 45 and older for besting other competitors within their age range.

 
As part of NBC Sports IMSA coverage, all eight weekends will be broadcast once again in 2020 on NBCSN. To maximize the exposure on NBCSN, seven of the eight race weekends are scheduled to be featured as part of “IMSA Blocks” on the network. These consist of at least two races from different IMSA series broadcast consecutively for maximum exposure. These broadcast times are listed on the IMSA.com home page under the “IMSA on TV” section.

 
Each race is also exclusively streamed live for free on IMSA.tv and posted on the IMSA YouTube channel following the NBCSN broadcast. Also posted to the IMSA YouTube channel – which has more than 110,000 subscribers – are preview videos for each event weekend, a campaign that began in 2019.

 
The at-track experience in GT3 Cup Challenge USA is expected to match the impressive quality of the on-track product. In addition to Yokohama hospitality access for competitors, drivers can expect to take part in autograph sessions each weekend and also participate in fan forums at select events. Also, the winner of the Yokohama Hard Charger Award, given to the driver who gained the most positions during each race, also earns a free set of Yokohama slicks.

 
But large-scale exposure for GT3 Cup Challenge has already begun just one month into the new year, with former series champions making a splash at the iconic IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener – the Rolex 24 At Daytona - held this past weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

 
The race featured one champion from the GT3 Cup Challenge USA series, two former GT3 Cup Challenge Canada champions, and one driver who made history in 2019 by winning the title in both the USA and Canada series. All drivers competed in the GT Daytona (GTD) class.

 
Trenton Estep – 2018 GT3 Cup Challenge USA Champion – made his WeatherTech Championship debut at this year’s twice-around-the-clock event, finishing an impressive fifth place after capitalizing on an opportunity with the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.

 
Representing the Canadian series was 2018 champion Zacharie Robichon and 2016 champion Daniel Morad. Robichon posted the fastest lap in qualifying to start the Rolex 24 on pole with the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche. Meanwhile, Morad – who also won the GTD class in the 2017 Rolex 24 – finished on the class podium in 2019, taking home a third-place trophy with the No. 88 WRT Speedstar Audi Sport team.

 
Roman De Angelis – the 18-year-old champion of both the 2019 GT3 Cup Challenge USA and Canada series – finished third at the Rolex 24 in 2019 as part of his WeatherTech Championship debut. His historic 2019 accomplishments in Porsche GT3 Cup earned him a full-season WeatherTech Championship ride with the No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin team that began at Daytona.

 
These drivers climbing the ladder continue to inspire those across the GT3 Cup Challenge ranks. IMSA and its partners at Porsche and Yokohama have worked diligently to reduce barriers to allow more drivers to compete in both the GT3 Cup Challenge USA and Canada series, should they desire, to gain more experience and visit even more of North America’s most iconic circuits.

For more information about Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, please visit IMSA.com. To follow along with the series on social media throughout the season, search the hashtag #GT3USA.
IMSA, WAYNE TAYLOR RACING CELEBRATE
ROLEX 24 VICTORY WITH NASDAQ CLOSING BELL CEREMONY

 
January 31, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
NEW YORK, NY. – There is no better place in the world to celebrate a big victory than New York City, and that is what IMSA, Wayne Taylor Racing and their sponsors did Friday.

 
In celebration of the team's Rolex 24 At Daytona win last weekend, team owner Wayne Taylor, driver Ryan Briscoe and representatives from team sponsors Konica Minolta and Cadillac rang the Closing Bell at the NASDAQ Stock Market.

 
"What an honor, and it was much bigger than I thought it would be," team owner Wayne Taylor said. "I don't remember being that nervous about making a speech. It is great to have this happen for us to give back to all of our sponsors including Cadillac and Konica Minolta that were here today. Without them, this third victory in four years would have never have happened."

 
Millions saw the market's closing as it was broadcast across a variety of networks, including CNBC and Bloomberg, among others in the United States. Fans of the team and IMSA were also able to watch on a live stream from NASDAQ Times Square studio.

 
"That was a new experience for me," Briscoe said after the event. "It is always nice to be in the city and ringing the closing bell at the NASDAQ is a tremendous honor. To do this and to be with Wayne, Cadillac and Konica Minolta, it is just a massive moment to celebrate our win at the Rolex 24. I am proud to be a part of this.

 
While driving at speeds of upwards of 190 miles per hour would make anyone nervous, Briscoe said the event brought on more pressure than winning the Rolex 24.

 
"Please put me back behind the wheel of my car," he said with a smile. "That is so much easier than having to do this! It was fun, and it is great to celebrate the win and to thank our sponsors on one of the world's biggest stages."

 
Following the ceremony, the group ventured out into Times Square to see themselves, and highlights from the race, on a massive seven-story video board located on the façade of the NASDAQ building.

 
For team sponsors, the day was equally exciting as both companies have ties to the New York City area. Konica Minolta's United States headquarters are in Ramsey, New Jersey, a short 45-minute drive from the city.

 
"This was a spectacular event today," Sam Errigo, EVP Sales & Business Development, Konica Minolta said. "We are so proud of Wayne Taylor Racing and the entire team for their victory at the Rolex 24 last weekend. They have won three out of the last four, and to celebrate their victory by doing this today was a great experience for everyone involved.

 
"Konica Minolta is a technology-based company. We have linked our company's technology with our future direction of speed and agility, and that aligns so well with racing. When you have that combination, you see the results such as Wayne winning another Rolex 24."

 
"This was a fantastic event today to celebrate what happened over the weekend with the win by Wayne Taylor Racing," said Rory Harvey, Vice President Sales, Service and Marketing, Cadillac. "It was a great team effort by everyone involved to get the victory, and we at Cadillac are looking forward to the rest of the season."

 
The Closing Bell was a perfect way for IMSA to celebrate the Rolex 24 and the start of the WeatherTech Championship season. Last year the sanctioning body visited the market before the race.

 
The next race on the WeatherTech Championship schedule is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on March 21.

 
NBC Sports' coverage of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring begins on CNBC at 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 21 and includes a seven-and-a-half-hour window on NBCSN. Complete, flag-to-flag coverage also is available with cable or satellite authentication on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com, and to TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold subscribers.

 
IMSA Radio will have live coverage throughout the weekend on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, with complete race coverage also airing on SiriusXM Radio.

 

 

Wayne Taylor, Ryan Briscoe to Celebrate Rolex 24 Victory
by Ringing NASDAQ Closing Bell on Friday

 
January 30, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) will be back in New York City this Friday (Jan. 31) as Rolex 24 At Daytona winners - Wayne Taylor Racing - will be ringing the Closing Bell at the NASDAQ Stock Market.

 
Team owner Wayne Taylor and driver Ryan Briscoe will be ringing the bell at 4 p.m. on Friday from the stock market’s Times Square studio located at 4 Times Square in New York City. This marks the second time in just over a year that IMSA and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be visiting the NASDAQ to ring the closing bell.

 
The stock market is celebrating the third Rolex 24 victory in the last four years for Wayne Taylor Racing and its No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi machine. The victory was the fifth for Taylor, as he also was part of the overall winning team in 1996 and 2005 as a driver and an owner. Briscoe, one of four drivers for the team, earned his first overall race victory and his third Rolex watch after earning GT Le Mans (GTLM) class championships in 2015 and 2018.

 
Briscoe, co-drove the car to victory with Renger van der Zande, Scott Dixon and Kamui Kobayashi, as the team set race records for laps completed (833) and miles ran (2,965.48).

 
Friday’s event takes place from 3:45-4:00 pm EST Friday and can be streamed online at https://www.nasdaq.com/marketsite/bell-ringing-ceremony. While always subject to change due to breaking news, the closing bell is also usually shown live on networks such as CNBC, Bloomberg and other major financial networks.

 
Following the closing bell, the group will pose for pictures in Times Square in front of a giant, seven-story video board which will be featuring highlights of the team’s Rolex 24 victory and a recap of the closing bell ceremony.
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