The official entry list is out for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s biggest race of the year, the Rolex 24 at Daytona. As in the Roar Before the 24 a couple of weeks ago, 47 teams will take to the track. Despite that, there have been some changes.
The DPi class is unchanged. 11 DPis will be on the grid and fighting for overall glory. Much of the attention will be levied on Wayne Taylor Racing’s effort as Fernando Alonso joins up for his second attempt in Daytona. Fellow Toyota GAZOO Racing driver Kamui Kobayashi is there as well and should be very fast. Expect quite the scrum around the No. 10 Cadillac prior to the race. Former Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello is in JDC-Miller MotorSports’ No. 85 Cadillac as well.
The two Mazda RT24-Ps from Mazda Team Joest were the quickest cars at the Roar and very few changes have been to the Balance of Performance (BoP) since then. While the race is definitely not Mazda’s to lose, they should be very competitive.
There is only one change of note in the LMP2 class. That is the addition of Enzo Guibbert to the No. 52 ORECA 07-Gibson for PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports. Daytona will be Guibbert’s IMSA debut, but Guibbert has had some success in the European Le Mans Series, claiming two LMP3 class victories in 2016 and running well in a similar ORECA 07 for GRAFF Racing.
GT Le Mans has one major driver change of note, made after the pre-entry list (linked below) was released. BMW Team RLL’s Tom Blomqvist will not be in the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE for the race. He’s not sick or injured in any way. Unfortunately, he’s got other issues to deal with.
Unfortunately due to a complex issue around a visa I will have to miss next weekends Daytona 24. I’m hugely disappointed, as you can imagine! It’s not the end of the world and as they say, when life hands you lemons make lemonade #Rolex24 #Imsa50 #Daytona24 #Mission8 #BMW #M8 pic.twitter.com/wmD4qvumJA
— Tom Blomqvist (@tom_blomqvist) January 20, 2019
For lack of better words, Blomqvist can’t get into the United States to work right now. Of note, Blomqvist is of Swedish heritage (his father Stig is a former World Rally champion from Sweden), but he races under the flag of the United Kingdom. Augusto Farfus has gotten the call to replace Blomqvist in the No. 24 BMW for Daytona.
At Risi Competizione, the team has filled out their driver lineup with James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi, 2017 GT World Endurance Drivers’ champions in the GTE-Pro class of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Both have previously raced for the Texas-based team.’
GT Daytona sees the remaining driver lineups fleshed out. For defending GT Daytona class winners GRT Grasser Racing Team, Rik Breukers has been confirmed as the team’s fourth driver, returning to defend his class win along with Mirko Bortolotti and Rolf Ineichen. Kang Ling, who drove the car at the Roar, is not scheduled to be present.
For VIA Italia Racing, veteran Andrea Bertolini has been added to the No. 13 Ferrari, which showed some speed at the Roar. EBIMOTORS has also fleshed out their Lamborghini effort. Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America competitor Taylor Proto will make his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut in the No. 46 along with Giacomo Altoe, an 18-year old Super Trofeo racer from Europe. This leaves out Phil Keen, who was the fastest driver for EBIMOTORS at the Roar. Finally, Brandon Gdovic is not listed on the entry list after having driven Precision Performance Motorsports’ No. 47 Lamborghini (briefly) at the Roar.
NBC Sports will provide 27 hours of live IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship coverage this weekend in Daytona. Last week, NBC Sports announced that they will have 17 commentators on-site, a combination of IMSA-exclusive commentators, NASCAR and INDYCAR talent. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be present on the Peacock Pit Box and may wander around a bit as well. Remember that Earnhardt Jr. has two starts in the Rolex 24 at Daytona (2001 and 2004) and came within 15 minutes of an overall victory in his most recent attempt.
The on-air talent includes AJ Allmendinger, who will not only drive the No. 86 Acura for Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian, but work as an analyst on the broadcast as well. According to the schedule released by NBC Sports, Allmendinger will start and finish the race in the booth.
Allmendinger isn’t even the only driver chipping in on the broadcast. Townsend Bell, who will drive the No. 12 Lexus for AIM Vasser Sullivan, will also spend time in the broadcast booth and start the race on the Peacock Pit Box. It seems unusual to have drivers competing in the race chip in on the broadcast, but it is not unprecedented. One example is 1985, when TBS had owner-driver Bob Akin join Ken Squier in the booth.
Coverage of the race is scheduled to start Saturday at 2 p.m. on NBCSN. Frontstretch will be on-site to provide you as much content as possible.