Rolex 24 Quick Thoughts

It was another Rolex 24 in which current and former Indycar drivers did well. Scot Dixon and Ryan Briscoe were on the overall winning team. Ben Hanley and Dragonspeed defended their 2019 LMP2 victory. Bobby Rahal’s BMW won the GTLM class for the second consecutive year.  Sebastien Bourdais finished third in his full time IMSA debut.

Attendance at the Rolex 24 seemed to be the best of the seven events I’ve attended.

The race didn’t have a lot of drama in any of the classes. A seven hour green flag stretch kept gaps between the cars steady. As usual, the GTLM group had the best race going on for a few hours.

The drive penalty that the 55 Mazda received for its collision with the 7 Acura was quite light. It’s a penalty which has no effect in a 24 hour race. The 7 never got back into contention.

The crew of the 4 Corvette has my respect. I saw the car in the garage around midnight just before they dismantled the entire engine. Six hours later, the Corvettte returned to the track.

I wondered how the new driver lineup would affect Wayne Taylor Racing. Looks as if there was nothing to worry about.  That team has a handle on this race.

Bourdais’ Mustang Sampling team appeared to be very strong in spite of the ownership and driver changes. They were at the rear of the class early in the race, but worked up to a podium finish.

Rahal now has Rolex 24 wins for both of his cars.

As much praise as I’ve heaped on Daytona International Speedway for the improvements in the facility this weekend, the post race traffic pattern needs a lot of work. I understand  there is not a lot of room for cars to move in the infield, but if someone were directing traffic there might be a smoother flow.

833 laps is an incredible race total. I’ve never seen an endurance race with less than two hours total time under caution.

With convergence looming in 2022, I’m wondering what the car count for next year’s Rolex will be.

Thanks for following along this weekend. I was impressed by those of you who were up watching all 24 hours and took time to read my in race posts.

I’ll be back in a day or two after I run the Serta 24.

Corvette, GEAR Have Issues at Halfway Point

The Rolex 24 just passed the mid point. There was one caution in the last six hours as the leaders continue to click off laps at a torrid pace.

The number 4 Corvette went to the garage with what appears to be an engine issue. Afew minutes later, the number 19 GTD of Grasser Racing slowed on the backstretch and li.ped back to the garage. The 19 is the all female team headed by Katherine Legge.

The current leaders as I write:

DPi.   Car 5 Cadillac Joao Barbosa

LMP2. Car 52. Nick Boule

GTLM. Car 24 BMW Chaz Mostert

GTD. Car 48 Lamborghini Bryan Sellers

Another new feature at Daytona this year is a large high definition television screen in the fan zone. Benches have been added to the area in front of the screen. The television is visible from the turn 3 grandstand.

Back after the race with a recap. So far it  has been a very predictable event.

UPDATE Mike Joachim of Pit Lane Parley sent this photo of the Corvette engine dismantled. Thanks Mike

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6 Hours In, WTR Cadillac Leads

The first four hours of the Rolex 24 were clean and without much change in the lead. An incident involving the 55 Mazda and the 7 Acura has put the Team Penske car out there f contention for a good finish. The Mazda received a stop and go penalty, meaningless in a 24 race.

Just before the 5 hour mark s pit incident brought out a full course yellow.

The current leaders:

DPi.  10 Wayne Taylor Racing

LMP 2.  52

GTLM  24 BMW

GTD. 44 Lamborghini

Pit stops are being made so the leader board may change by the time you read this.

It’s Rolex 24 Race Day

Photo: Oliver Jarvis in the 77 Mazda leads the field to the green flag at 1:40 today.

The 2020 racing season gets underway this afternoon as the 58th Rolex 24 begins.  A Mazda is on the pole and the question is can Mazda keep running for 24 hours.  I look for a strong challenge from Penske Acura. The 6 car looks especially strong. Wayne Taylor Racing, in their first race without either of t Taylor brothers driving, could be a factor also.

The weather looks to be dry with moderate temperatures. After last year’s deluge., dry and mild is very welcome.

In GTLM, it  could be a battle between the Porsches. They traded the lead back and forth in qualifying. A Lamborghini will win the GTLM class.

I hope  to report every six hours.

The NBC network group has 16 hours of coverage. NBC shows the start and finish. Coverage is also on NBCSN and the NBC app. The app costs $19.95 for the entire IMSA season.

Sports Car Convergence: Great for Racing if It’s Affordable

In this winter of seismic changes in the racing world, another positive tremor occurred this morning. ACO and IMSA agreed to a “convergence,” agreeing on a common car for the 2022.  It’s about time this happened. Allowing cars from each series to compete in each other’s races can’t help but grow the sport. Here is the link for the story from IMSA with the details:

https://www.imsa.com/news/012020/aco-and-imsa-forge-future-endurance-racing

I hope this means we will see more diversity in body style. Having four chassis manufacturers can’t hurt. The 2022 Rolex 24 could see an increased field. Perhaps LeMans will allow more entries as well. We could see some amazing international competition.

My concern is costs. How long will team be able to afford the LMDh or Hypercar? They have a year to plan budget wise, but will there be enough ROI to make it worthwhile in the long term? Racing is expensive now. How much cost increase will the convergence bring? Costs are something to watch as 2022 nears.

Despite my concerns, the year after next should be very exciting. I’ve always wondered why the cars were not built to work in both WEC and IMSA. It never made sense. I wonder if an arrangement of this type is coming for GTD and GT3 as well.

Rolex Day 1 Notes

Changes abound at Daytona International Speedway. One of the nicest is the signs above the garages with the car number and drivers’ names. It’s very helpful for fans seeking autographs and the photos of the signs are easier than scrolling through the Spotter’s Guide.

Wifi is improved around the track, especially in the campgrounds. It’s nice to have on your phone, though I wish I could get a decent signal on the laptop.

Signage has improved tremendously, helping fans find locations easier.

Pedestrian paths are more organized with barriers. This is a great improvement in safety from the first year I came to Daytona, when it seemed people could walk anywhere they wished. The barriers have made getting to the Fan Zone from the International Horseshoe much easier, and actually less congested.

Daytona is still missing the needed additional video boards. I may have mentioned this before.

Food options are better and have more variety this year, including more vegetarian options. Prices are a bit high.

Ricky Taylor had a very hard hit in qualifying yesterday. The number 7 Acura spun in the bus stop and hit the tire barrier head on. Taylor was okay. The cra suffered serious front end damage and missed all but a few minutes of last night’s practice session.

Pole winners by class:

LMP1- Mazda 77 Oliver Jarvis

LMP2- 52 Oreca Ben Keating

GTLM-  911 Porsche   Nick Tandy

GTD – 9 Porsche  Zacharie Robichon

Back tomorrow morning with a pre race report.

Remember to follow my new home on Twitter, @Pitwindowtoo.

Rolex 24 Preview: Small Strong Field Ready to Star IMSA Season

A smaller than normal entry list at The Roar before the 24 has gotten smaller as the Rolex 24 approaches. Two LMP2 entries have withdrawn, bringing the field down to 38 cars. Still, the field is a strong group of cars and drivers. Six current Indycar drivers will participate, mainly in the DPi class.  Sebastien Bourdais also is in the DPi class. Bourdais will be in the Number 5 car all season.

The Indycar drivers and their cars-

Bourdais -5

Simon Pagenaud – 6 (teaming with Juan Pablo Montoya)

Alexander Rossi-7 (teaming with (Helio Castroneves)

Scott Dixon- 10

Ryan Hunter-Reay- 55

Ben Hanley- 81 (LMP2)

Colton Herta- 25 (GTLM)  Defending class winner

Changes

The Ford GTLM cars are gone. Usually the cars were in contention for a win. GTLM will probably be a fight between the Corvettes, the Lexus Vasser Sullivan Team, and the Ferrari.

Wayne Taylor Racing doesn’t have a Taylor driving anymore. Jordan is now driving for the number 3 Corvette. Ricky went to the Team Penske Acura two years ago. The team won the Rolex last year and will be competitive, especially with Scott Dixon as one of the extra endurance drivers.

The race start time has been moved up to 1:40 pm Eastern from its traditional 2:40 pm green flag. I don’t see the extra daylight hour on Saturday having much effect on the race. It’s great for the fans, though, to have an extra hour of warmth at the start.

What to Watch For

One advantage of the smaller fields and the smaller classes is this race should be easier to follow.

In DPi, I see the Mazdas winning the pole. In the race, they will be strong, but don’t overlook the Team Penske Acuras. Rossi and Montoya were very fast two weeks ago, and they may have a better race pace than the Mazdas.

I’m interested is watching how Bourdais and his team does in their debut outing. While the number 5 car looks the same as it did in 2019, the car is now a JDC-Miller car instead of Action Express.

In GTD the Lamborghinis should be strong again despite their disqualifications at the Roar. Watch for Katherine Legge’s all female team, the number 19 Lamborghini.

Meyer Shank Racing’s car 86 will also have a strong run.

I will provide updates on site beginning Thursday.

You can find the Spotter Guide here:

2020 Official IMSA Spotter Guide

The television schedule is a mashup involving NBC, NBCSN, TrackPass, and NBC Gold. The app can be purchased for $19.99. It covers the entire IMSA season.  The start and finish are on NBC Saturday and Siunday beginning at 1:30 pm Eastern.

 

 

 

Sunday at the Roar: High Speed and DQs

Sunday at Daytona International Speedway was a day of contrasts. Olivier Pla set an unofficial track record in the number 77 Mazda with a lap of 1:33.324. The  lap in the DPi qualifying session does not count as the official lap record. Official lap records can only be set during the Rolex 24 weekend.

Team Penske Acuras were second and third. Ricky Taylor finished 0.219 seconds behind Pla and Juan Pablo Montoya was 0.241 seconds behind the leader. Alexander Rossi led the practice round before qualifying in the number 7 that Taylor drove. The Penske Acuras look strong for the race.

James Calado led the GTLM qualifying session in the Risi Competizione independent Ferrari. His best lap of 1:42.685 edged Nick Tandy in the 911 Porsche by 0.001 seconds. Tommy Milner was third in the number 4 Corvette, 0.108 seconds behind. I was hoping for more from the Corvettes.

Lamborghinis Disqualified

Four Lamborghinis, including all three cars of Team Grasser, were disqualified for running unapproved gear ratios in qualifying.

The affected cars, the 11. 19.and 44 of Grasser Racing Team, and the 47 of Precision Motorsports, lost their qualifying spots which determine choice of pit and garage space for the Rolex 24. The 47, driven by Brandon Gdovic, was the fastest of the disqualified entries, finishing 4th.

The LMP2  number 38 Performance Tech Motorsports entry also was disqualified for having the incorrect driver.

Notes

I hope this weekend’s weather, rainy and cold, is not a preview of weather for race weekend. It’s time for a warm, sunny Rolex weekend.

The DPi field looks to be very competitive. While Mazda led most of the sessions, Acura and the Wayne Taylor Cadillac each topped a session Sunday.

Ben Keating will drive in two classes in the Rolex. I’m not sure how that works with driver time limits.

The Roar is marketing genius. IMSA gets a respectable crowd the first weekend in January for an extended test session. Indycar might consider turning Spring Training into something similar. In addition to the test rounds and “qualifying”, there are two races for ladder series. I have seen this event grow since I began attending.