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IMSA: 24 Hours of Daytona – Preview 2016

From the title sponsor, to the driver lineups and cars being run, change marks the beginning of the 2016 season for IMSA’s top series: theWeatherTech SportsCar Championship. One thing that’s remained the same, however, is opening the season with the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, this year running Jan. 30-31. The 2016 lineup has an even more international flavor than usual, with drivers from the WEC, DTM, IndyCar, Pirelli World Challenge, and V8 Supercar series joining the fray.

Following is a class-by-class breakdown of some of the more significant changes.

Prototype:

• Felipe Albuquerque and Scott Pruett join defending series champions Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi in the #5 Action Express Corvette DP for Daytona.

• SMP Racing is fielding a WSC Prototype entry after winning the 2015 FIA WEC GTE Am championship. Russian IndyCar driver Mikhail Aleshin will be among the pilots of the team’s #37 BR01-Nissan.

• Ryan Dalziel and Marc Goossens will be the primary drivers of the #90 VisitFlorida Racing Corvette DP, joined by IndyCar’s Ryan Hunter-Reay at Daytona.

• The #01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford has an all-new drivers lineup featuring former WEC LMP1 Toyota driver Alex Wurz, with defending LMP1 champion Porsche driver Brendon Hartley along for Daytona.

 

Prototype Challenge:

• Ryan Eversley joins the #26 BAR1 Motorsports team.

 

GT Le Mans:

• WEC Audi LMP1 pilot Marcel Fassler joins long-time #4 Corvette Racing duo Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner for Daytona.

• DTM veterans Augusto Farfus and Bruno Spengler join Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner in the #25 BMW Team RLL M6 GTLM (itself a hardware change from last year’s Z4s).

• Risi Competizione has put together a Ferrari dream team for its #62 488 GTE (replacing the 458 Italia), Davide Rigon and Olivier Beretta joining Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander.

• Long-time prototype stalwarts Chip Ganassi Racing will also be competing in GTLM starting in 2016, running two Ford GTs at Daytona. The #66 will be driven by Joey Hand and Dirk Müller, joined by Sebastien Bourdais for the 24 Hours. The #67 drivers are Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, and Stefan Mücke.

• Scuderia Corsa (#68) and SMP Racing (#72) have also assembled impressive driver lineups for their 488 GTEs. Scuderia Corsa has Alessandro Per Guidi, Alexandre Premat, Daniel Serra, and Memo Rojas; SMP Viktor Shaytar, Andrea Bertolini, Gianmaria Bruni, and James Calado.

• Kuno Wittmer and Graham Rahal join Lucas Luhr and John Edwards in the #100 BMW Team RLL entry.

• PWC regular Kevin Estre will join Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy in the #911 Porsche North America 911 RSR.

 

GT Daytona

• Stevenson Motorsports has ended its long-term relationship with GM and will be running two Audi R8 LMS GT3s.

• 2015 GTD champions Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler found their new home with O’Gara Motorsport where they will be among a number of drivers using the Lamborghini Huracan in its series debut.

• David and Cooper MacNeil will drive the #22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R, joined at Daytona by Leh Keen, Gunnar Jeannette, and V8 Supercars’ Shane van Gisbergen. Wolf Henzler, late of Falken Racing, will join Ian James and Mario Farnbacher in the #23.

• The 2015 #44 Magnus Racing entry will be an Audi instead of a Porsche, with John Potter and Andy Lally joined by Marco Seefried and Rene Rast for Daytona.

• Former Ferrari stalwarts Nic Jonsson and Pierre Kaffer will be joined by Christopher Haase and Tracy Krohn in the Flying Lizard Motorsports #45 Audi.

• Henzler’s teammate at Falken, Bryan Sellers, will be the third driver in the #48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini.

• Last year’s GTD runner-up while driving for TRG-AMG, Christina Nielsen, will drive the #63 Scuderia Corse Ferrari 458 GT3 with Alessandro Balzan and Jeff Segal.

 • Jorg Bergmeister will drive with Patrick Lindsey, Matt McMurry, and Norbert Siedler in the #73 Park Place Motorsports entry.

• Ashley Freiberg moves up from the Continental Tires Sports Car Challenge to join the team driving the #96 Turner Motorsports BMW M6, with Maxime Martin coming over from the DTM to help pilot the #97.

• Aston Martin Racing is putting its best foot forward for Daytona, with 4 of its top WEC drivers—Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda, and Richie Stanaway—in the #98 Vantage.

• Black Swan Racing’s return to IMSA competition features an all-star line-up of Patrick Long, Andy Pilgrim, and Nicky Catsburg around team principle Tim Pappas in the #540 Porsche.

 

 

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