Roar Before the 24 2019

Its 2019, IMSA’s 50th anniversary and the action kicked off once again this weekend at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

2019 promises to be a fantastic season in the IMSA Weathertech Sports Car Championship with an unprecedented number of manufacturers set to take part throughout the season. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing driver Dirk Mueller, 2017 GTLM category winner at the Rolex 24 was ecstatic ahead of the first test day, “It’s just amazing. I don’t know how long we’ve been saying ‘It’s the best championship, it’s the best championship, it’s the best championship.’ It is the best championship, that’s for sure. It keeps on getting better and better. All the ingredients are in here: fantastic cars, really, really good teams, good manufacturers, good drivers and it keeps getting better. It makes me somewhat proud to be part of it. It’s like a huge community and people outside it, they’re getting jealous.”

“You see great names coming already for this race,” said Helio Castroneves, who is returning for his second full season of WeatherTech Championship competition as co-driver of the No. 7 Acura Team Penske DPi with 2017 Prototype co-champion Ricky Taylor. “It sounds like we’re going to have a lot of cars with DPi, but also in GTD and GTLM. You have factories, there are so many in the series. When you have that kind of scenario, it shows that everybody is interested. I see no reason for it going down. It’s actually just going to continue going up.”

The Rolex 24 At Daytona will again see some of the biggest names in motorsport. Fernando Alonso made his debut in 2018 and returns in 2019 with Wayne Taylor Racing, piloting the #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi alongside Jordan Taylor, Renger van de Zande and his Toyota team mate Kamui Kobayashi.

Alex Zanardi, the legendary Paralympics gold medallist makes his Daytona debut driving for BMW using a specially modified steering wheel with hand controls. Zanardi lost both of his legs in a high-speed Champ Car crash back in 2001.

This year, the championship winning Prototype, the #31 Whelen Cadillac DPi-V.R with Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran at the wheel will be joined by Pipo Derani for the full season. Curran will take part in the four IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup rounds only.

In GT Daytona, more commonly known as GT3 in Europe, the #48 Paul Miller Lamborghini Huracan will have Ryan Hardwick joining returning champion Bryan Sellers. Hardwick is no stranger to Lamborghini however, having won the Super Trofeo North American AM championship in 2018.

The 2018 GTLM championship winning car, the #3 Corvette Racing car will be driven once again by Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. The pair never won a race in 2018, it was their consistency across the season that saw them eventually crowned 2018 champions.

The Daytona Prototype international category is going from strength to strength, with the 11 entries across four manufacturers for the Roar Before the 24. There are six entries from Cadillac, two Acura DPi’s 2 Mazda’s run by Team Joest and one Nissan. The #5 Mustang Sampling DPi-V.R won the Rolex 24 in 2018 and will return once again with Joao Barbosa, Feilipe Albuquerque Christian Fittipaldi and Mike Conway at the wheel. Fittipaldi announced his retirement from motorsport this week and will step down from racing at the end of January.

LMP2 numbers have fallen this year with a number of prototype teams switching to DPi cars over the LMP2 spec chassis options with JDC Miller for one, having switched to the Cadillac DPi chassis. All four LMP2 entries are Oreca chassis combined with Gibson V8 engines.

There are five manufacturers taking part in GT Le Mans with two cars each from Chevrolet, BMW, Ford and Porsche with Ferrari represented with just one entry. The 2018 GTLM championship winning car, the #3 Corvette Racing car will be driven once again by Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. The pair never won a race in 2018, it was their consistency across the season that saw them eventually crowned 2018 champions.

And in GTD, the class has grown once again with 23 GT3 cars on the entry list for the Roar Before. The class will be made up of five Lamborghini’s four Audi’s four Porsche’s three Ferrari’s, two Lexus, two Mercedes’s two Acura’s and one BMW. The #48 Paul Miller Lamborghini Huracan will have Ryan Hardwick joining returning champion Bryan Sellers. Hardwick is no stranger to Lamborghini however, having won the Super Trofeo North American AM championship in 2018.

All images courtesy of IMSA