DAYTONA BEACH, FLA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The calendar says 2020 but for race teams around the country, they have been working on 2020 for quite some time now.
IMSA gets the 2020 racing season going with the annual Roar Before the 24, the first practice session at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 23-26.
Forty cars have been entered across four competing classes in hopes of capturing the twice-around-the-clock event.
Two-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch will be moonlighting at the roar, jumping into the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 that he will share with co-drivers Parker Chase, Jack Hawksworth and Michael De Quesada in the GT Daytona (GTD) Class.
The GTD Class is the largest class in the field with 18-entries from nine different manufacturers.
Also in the GTD field are two entries from the 2019 GTD Champions of Meyer Shank Racing – the No. 57 Heinricher Racing with MSR Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 with drivers Alvaro Parente, Misha Goikhberg, Trent Hindman and AJ Allmendinger and the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura of Mario Farnb acher, Matt McMurtry, Sinhya Michimi and Jules Gounon as well as the all-female lineup of Katherine Legge, Christina Nielsen, Tati Calderon and Rahel Frey in the No. 19 GEAR Racing powered by GRT Grasser Lamborghini Huracan GT3;
Eight entries are featured in the lead Daytona Prototype International (DPi) Class from three manufacturers. Defending DPi Champions Acura Team Penske No. 6 ARX-05 of Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya who will be joined by IndyCar teammate Simon Pagenaud. Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves will be joined in the other Acura Team Penske No. 7 by Alexander Rossi.
Also in the DPi Class are Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 Konica Minolta Caillas DPi-V.R. where defending race winners Renger van der Zande and Kamui Kobayashi will be joined by Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon.
Briscoe and Dixon used to drive in IMSA for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. Ford shuttered the factory GT Le Mans (GTLM) program after last season, leaving Ganassi off the grid for the first time since 2004.
I don’t think Ganassi is finished in sports car racing however, at least not according the team owners Twitter account:
— Chip Ganassi (@GanassiChip) December 27, 2019
Ganassi instead will add a third IndyCar for driver Marcus Ericsson as Pittsburgh Racing Now told you back in October (https://pittsburghracingnow.com/2019/10/08/chip-ganassi-adding-third-ntt-indycar-series-entry-for-marcus-ericsson-in-2020/).
The factory supported GTLM Class features seven entries, four of which are making their North American Debut this weekend: The new, midengined Corvette C8R’s of Corvette Racing with Antonio Garcia being joined by Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg with Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner joined by Marcel Fassler in the No. 4 Corvette.
The new-for-2020 Porsche 911 RSR makes its debut at Daytona with defending WeatherTech GTLM Champions Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 912 with Mathieu Jaminet. The No. 911 will feature Nick Tandy, Frederic Makowiecki with Matt Campbell service as endurance specialist.
The LMP2 Class features seven entries as well. Defending Rolex 24 Winners Dragon Speed return with Ben Hanley, Henrik Hedman, Colin Braun and Harrison Newey in the No. 81 ORECA LMP2 07.
The No. 8 Tower Motorsport by Starworks ORECA with Ryan Dalziel and John Farano being joined by David Heinemeier Hansson and Nicolas Lapierre joining for the endurance events.
Defending LMP2 Championship PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports returns with two entries as well for drivers Ben Keating, Simon Trummer and Gabriel Aubry in a lineup that is still being determined.
In addition to the WeatherTech Championship machines, a 38-car field for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge will partake in three days of testing. Look for additional coverage coming up on Pittsburgh Racing Now.
The annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona takes place from Friday, January 3rd through Sunday, January 5th.
Chip Ganassi Racing wins 12-Hours of Sebring
SEBRING, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Earl Bamber passed Richard Westbrook for the lead, not once, but twice in the final hour to win the 12-hours of Sebring with co-drivers Alex Lynn and Neel Jani.
Bamber was chasing down Westbrook and when the clock ticked just under an hour left in the event, the No. 02 Cadillac passed the No. 5 Cadillac. Seconds later Bamber and the No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Simon Mann got together, sending Bamber spinning.
All of the drama unfolded about a half hour after the final driver change between Lynn and Bamber. Lynn came to pit road with a 30-second lead and handed the car over to Bamber who, on his out-lap, collided with the No. 13 AWA Duqueine D08 LMP3 car driven by Kuno Wittmer. IMSA issued a drive-through penalty that gave the lead to Westbrook.
Bamber fell behind Westbrook by 6-seconds following the spin with Mann but ran down the former CGR driver and passed him with 435-minutes left in the event.
“It was some of the best driving I’ve done and some of the worst at the same time, all in about one and a half hours,” said Bamber. “I’m just really happy that we could recover and get back to the front. It was a team effort, not an individual one. I could’ve probably made it a hell of a lot easier for everyone else, but hey, I made it.”
Tristian Vautier was able to cut into Bamber’s lead following the final round of pit stops to bring the No. 5 Caddy home in second followed by Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.
“The 02 came out of the pits 7-seconds ahead and we entered the final lap 2.5 behind,” said Vautier. “Then I took it easy on the last lap. I knew it was over and we were tight on fuel. It’s a very solid day for the team. We were third at Daytona and second here. We can be proud.”
The victory was the second in the event for Chip Ganassi’s team, who also won the event in 2014 with co-drivers Marino Franchitti, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.
The WeatherTech Championship resumes April 8-10 with the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Sebastien Bourdais win the pole position for the 70th Twelve Hours of Sebring
SEBRING, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Sebastien Bourdais will lead the 70th Twelve Hours of Sebring field to the green flag after winning the pole position with a fast lap of 1 minute, 45.166 seconds (128.025 mph) in the No. 01 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Bourdais managed the notorious bumps of Sebring International Raceway’s 17-turn, 3.74-mile circuit Friday to break Pipo Derani’s track record that was set last year.
“Leave it rough, leave it natural, don’t touch it,” said Bourdais of Sebring. “It’s the motto of this place. It is very difficult, but overall, it’s the same. It’s a challenge for everyone.”
Derani was just 0.026-seconds behind Bourdais in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac.
Row 2 of the Daytona Prototype International Class (DPi) has Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 lined up third with Alex Lynn in the No. 02 Ganassi Cadillac.
Mike Rockenfeller in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac rounded out the Top 5 in the No. 31 in the Action Express Racing Caddy.
The green flag is scheduled to fly Saturday at 10:10 a.m. ET. Live flag-to-flag coverage is available on Peacock, with USA joining the broadcast on TV from 3:30 p.m. to 10:30. Live coverage also is available on IMSA Radio via IMSA.com and SiriusXM Radio.
Chip Ganassi to be Honoree at ‘The Amelia’ this weekend
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi is adding another honor to his considerable list of accomplishments, being selected as this year’s Honoree at ‘The Amelia’, the award-winning car show formerly known as the ‘Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance’.
Ganassi, 63, joins an exclusive list of previous Honoree’s that include Roger Penske, Bobby Rahal, Sam Posey, Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Unser, Hurley Haywood, David Hobbs, Brian Redman, Emerson Fittipaldi and Jochen Mass, to name a few.
“To be selected as the Honoree at ‘The Amelia’ this year, it certainly ranks among the high points of my career,” said Ganassi. “I’m truly honored to be respected by my peers in this way and join the likes of so many legends I’ve long admired. I’ve been fortunate enough to make this a career and I still feel that I have as much passion for the sport as I did 40 years ago, qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie.”
A select fleet of Ganassi’s legendary race cars will be featured as part of the show:
- 1994 Reynard 94i that Michael Andretti scored Chip Ganassi Racing’s first win at Surfer’s Paradise.
- 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner that Juan Pablo Montoya drove to victory and Rookie of the Year honors.
- 2006 Lexus Riley Rolex 24 at Daytona Champion driven by Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Casey Mears.
- 2010 Chevrolet Impala that Jamie McMurray piloted to the Daytona 500 win.
- 2010 Honda INDYCAR that Dario Franchitti drove to win the 2010 Indianapolis 500.
- 2022 Cadillac DPi which recently competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona.
- Ford GT Chassis 007 which won the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona, 2017 Road America, 2018 Watkins Glen and Lime Rock.
Ganassi is among the most successful race team owners in the world with 14 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championships and eight IMSA Sports Car titles. Overall, his teams have 22 championships with more than 230 victories, including four Indianapolis 500s, a Daytona 500, a Brickyard 400, eight Rolex 24 at Daytona events, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance was founded by car collector and businessman Bill Warner in 1996, who launched his career as a photographer and writer for Road & Track magazine in the early 1970s. Today, the event’s economic impact on Florida is estimated at nearly $30 million a year and has donated over $4 million to various charities since its inception.
The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance was recently acquired by Traverse City Michigan-based Hagerty, an American automotive lifestyle and membership company and the world’s largest provider of specialty insurance for classic vehicles. Hagerty rebranded the Florida collector car event as “The Amelia,” in 2021. Showcased throughout the event weekend are some of the rarest and most unusual collector automobiles from all over the world. For more information on ‘The Amelia’, visit: https://www.ameliaconcours.com/event.