DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2022) – With The Roar Before the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA Presented by INX just a few days away, the excitement is already at an all-time high. After all, a huge field of 61 incredible race cars have entered this weekend’s (Jan. 21-23) test sessions, all prepping for the 60th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 at DAYTONA, North America’s most prestigious sports car race the following weekend of Jan. 29-30.
The Roar Before the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA Presented by INX schedule calls for two test sessions Friday (beginning at 11:15 a.m. ET) and a third on Saturday (at 10:00 am ET) before qualifying for the 100-minute qualifying race Sunday at 2:05 p.m., which will determine the starting lineup for the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA. The 61 entries are the most since 2014, and will showcase a deep international field of championship drivers – more than 50 past Rolex 24 at DAYTONA Champions – in five classes in the classic twice-around-the-clock Rolex 24 event.
Below is a look at the five incredibly competitive classes that will take to the 3.56-mile Daytona tri-oval road course:
Daytona Prototype international (DPi): Seven cars, the same number as in 2021, are in the DPi field this year, in what is the final season for the class before it switches to the LMDh platform in 2023. The No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 claimed the class and overall Rolex 24 victory a year ago and three of its drivers – Filipe Albuquerque, Ricky Taylor and Alexander Rossi – are back along with newcomer Will Stevens.
The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R won the qualifying race during the Roar last year, what proved an important step on the Action Express Racing entry’s route to the season title. Pipo Derani and Mike Conway are back in the No. 31, with Tristan Nunez replacing Felipe Nasr as Derani’s new full-season teammate.
Other DPi entries of note include Chip Ganassi Racing expanding to a two-car Cadillac effort and the No. 48 Ally Cadillac that includes seven-time NASCAR Cup Series and two-time DAYTONA 500 Champion Jimmie Johnson and two-time Rolex 24 winner Kamui Kobayashi returning for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races. Indy 500 Champions’ Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud are also back for the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA.
Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2): The LMP2 field remains the same, 10 cars, as it was a year ago and is again full of international flair. The No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2 07 that won the 2021 Rolex 24 returns fully intact with Dwight Merriman, Kyle Tilley, Ryan Dalziel and Paul-Loup Chatin, as does the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA lineup of Ben Keating, Mikkel Jensen, Scott Huffaker and Nicolas Lapierre that won the qualifying race on its way to the LMP2 championship.
Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3): The number of entries grows from six to 10 this year as the LMP3 class embarks on its second season of WeatherTech Championship competition. The No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 won last year’s Rolex 24 and went on to win the season title for the team and driver Gar Robinson. He’s back to defend and will team with Felipe Fraga, Kay van Berlo and Michael Cooper at the Roar and Rolex 24.
GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO): The new class that replaces GT Le Mans (GTLM) is loaded with 13 entries and eight manufacturers. Corvette Racing bears watching as always, but in particular as it shifts from the GTLM platform to the GT3 specification the GTD PRO falls under. The No. 3 Corvette won last year’s Rolex 24 and the driver trio returns with Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg. The No. 4 Corvette won the 2021 qualifying race and is back on a one-off for the Rolex 24 before taking on a full season in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Other manufacturers for the debut of this highly anticipated class include Aston Martin, Ferrari Lamborghini and Lexus.
GT Daytona (GTD): Now running under the same specs as GTD PRO but with the requirement of having Bronze- or Silver-rated drivers as part of the lineup, the GTD class continues its unrivaled popularity with 22 entries – up three from a year ago.
Mercedes-AMG finished 1-2 in last year’s Rolex 24 and both teams are back, the winning No. 57 Winward Racing with half the drivers (Russell Ward and Philip Ellis) returning and runner-up No. 75 Sun Energy 1 bringing back three (Kenny Habul, Luca Stolz and Raffaele Marciello).
With nine manufacturers entered in GTD, the competition is wide open as usual. Never overlook all-time leading IMSA winner Bill Auberlen and Turner Motorsport co-drivers Robby Foley, Michael Dinan and Jens Klingmann. The No. 96 won last year’s qualifying race and, like BMW Team RLL in GTD PRO, will race a new BMW M4 GT3 this season.
Andy Lally has the most Rolex 24 wins of any driver entered (five). His No. 44 Magnus Racing team bears watching with its switch to the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 this year. Others to watch include Crucial Motorsports and inception racing, which both bring the McLaren 720S GT3 back to the Roar and Rolex 24.
WeatherTech Championship Track Records
DPi: Oliver Jarvis, Mazda DPi, 1:33.685 / 136.799 mph, January 2019
LMP2: James Allen, ORECA LMP2, 1:35.904 / 133.633 mph, January 2019
LMP3: Moritz Kranz, Duqueine D08, 1:42.384 / 125.176 mph, January 2021
GTD PRO: New class for 2022
GTD: Marcos Gomes, Ferrari 488 GT3, 1:44.541 / 122.593 mph, January 2019
2021 Rolex 24 At Daytona Qualifying Race Winners:
DPi: Felipe Nasr/Pipo Derani, No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R
LMP2: Ben Keating/Mikkel Jensen, No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsport ORECA LMP2 07
LMP3: Moritz Kranz/Laurentz Hoerr, No. 6 Muehlner Motorsports America Duqueine D08
GTD PRO: New class for 2022
GTD: Bill Auberlen/Robby Foley, No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3
In addition to cars on track this weekend during The Roar Before the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA Presented by INX, Daytona International Speedway will host Scout Days at DAYTONA, where thousands of scouts from across the nation take part in garage tours, track walks, and STEMWERX activities. STEMWERX inspires and equips bright young minds to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Their mission is to inspire students to choose careers in STEM fields and become the next generation of innovators.
The Roar Before the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA Presented by INX kicks off 10 days of on-track activity, culminating with the Jan. 29-30 Rolex 24 At DAYTONA.
Once the checkered flag falls on the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, the World Center of Racing will begin its focus on DAYTONA Speedweeks Presented by AdventHealth (Feb. 15-20) and the 64th Annual DAYTONA 500. The week will feature six days of incredible on-track action with practices, qualifying and a total of six races among four different series. It will allow fans several possibilities to see the NASCAR Cup Series’ Next Gen car, plus some of the greatest drivers in the world in the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series, as well as the ARCA Menards Series.
About Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway is a state-of-the-art motorsports facility and was awarded the SportsBusiness Journal’s prestigious Sports Business Award for Sports Facility of the Year in 2016. Daytona International Speedway is the home of The Great American Race – the DAYTONA 500. Though the season-opening NASCAR Cup Series event garners most of the attention – as well as the largest audience in motorsports – the approximately 500-acre motorsports complex, also known as the World Center of Racing, boasts the most diverse schedule of racing on the globe. In addition to at least nine major event weekends, the Speedway grounds are also used extensively for events that include concerts, civic and social gatherings, car shows, photo shoots, production vehicle testing and police motorcycle training. The iconic venue will be the site of a host of motorsports events early in 2022, beginning with AHRMA Classic Motofest and the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA in January, and the 64th DAYTONA 500, which will debut the first points race for NASCAR’s ‘Next Gen’ car as part of Speedweeks Presented by AdventHealth in February. The tradition-rich 81st Annual Bike Week At DAYTONA returns in March, featuring DAYTONA Supercross and the DAYTONA 200, and in May with the Heroes Honor Festival. Later in the summer during Independence Day weekend, the track, in association with Torneos, will host Soccer Fest before the NASCAR Cup Series returns for the final race of the regular season with the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Aug. 27.
From: DIS/NASCAR Communications