Change is Everywhere
Change is Everywhere
Change is in the air, in the paddock, and on the track at Daytona International Speedway for the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2014. The inaugural event of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship merges the “best of the best” from the GRAND-AM and American Le Mans Series into a new, unified championship.
The overwhelming response from manufacturers, teams, sponsors and fans has produced great anticipation.
The defending race champions from Target Chip Ganassi Racing (pictured above) have made a big change as the TCGR entries are now Ford EcoBoost powered. Scott Pruett seeks an unprecedented sixth Rolex 24 win.
Former winner Michael Shank Racing is also powered by the turbocharged Ford V6 EcoBoost. A powerful line-up of Corvette DP’s dominated the recent Roar Before the 24 testing with Action Express, Wayne Taylor, GAINSCO Bob Stalling’s Racing and the Spirit of Daytona entries all impressive.
Marsh Racing Corvette (pictured right) has also moved up from GT to Prototype competition for 2014. The familiar DPs will take on new Prototype challengers from Honda, Nissan and Mazda.
Adding to the excitement is the arrival of the 2012-2013 ALMS P1 champions from Muscle Milk Pickett Racing which debuts a new ORECA-Nissan package for Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr.
European stalwart Oak Racing also goes with Nissan power in its Morgan.
Scott Sharp’s PatrÃ³n-sponsored ESM Hondas are well developed and drivers here include Ryan Dalziel, David Brabham and Simon Pagenaud.
Mazda has a pair of stunning new prototypes powered by the new Mazda SkyActive diesel.
Sylvain Tremblay’s SpeedSource team leads the development that looks to build upon his team’s success in GT.
Certainly the most distinctive car on the track will be the radical DeltaWing prototype. The ultra-narrow nosed car has shown consistent performance and handling in a wide range of conditions.
With speed differentials between the classes and variations as to where on the track each has advantages or deficits, traffic is expected to be an important factor. Pit stops, race strategies and avoiding contact will all be important as the field is exceptionally deep.
New for 2014 is the PC (Prototype Challenge) class featuring single specification Chevy powered ORECA prototype chassis. With identical cars the competition is always close and teamwork and driver performance are key to success.
The PC class provides strong performance for the dollar and its mandated combination of professional and sportsmen drivers is an attractive package for teams.
Peter Baron’s Starworks, the BAR 1, Level 5 Motorsports, and Enzo Potolicchio‘s 8 Star team are all top contenders.
ALMS 2013 PC class driver champion Mike Guasch is aboard the PR1/Mathiasen entry (pictured right), while the three-time defending team champion CORE autosport squad has Colin Braun paired with team owner Jon Bennett.
One of the highlights of the new TUDOR Championship is the arrival, virtually intact, of the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class featuring factory teams from Aston Martin, BMW, Corvette, Porsche North America and SRT Viper, together with the powerful Risi Competizione Ferrari squad.
The largest class in the race is GT Daytona (GTD) featuring professional/sportsmen drivers in a wide range of GT machinery.
Alex Job Racing is the defending Rolex 24 at Daytona GT champion and like Ganassi in Prototype, AJR has made a switch for 2014; going from its race winning Audi R8 LMS to the new Porsche 911 GT America. Despite the switch, driver Leh Keen thinks the AJR team has a key advantage. “Alex pushes each of us to deliver our best every lap and he knows how to get that. He has a lot of very good; highly experienced people and they have worked together for long time. They support you as a driver and you want to do your part,” said Keen.
The competition in the huge 28 car GTD class will be intense as Porsche, Audi and Ferrari take on Aston Martin, Viper and BMW. The Racers Group fields new Aston Martin Vantage V12s, Riley Motorsports debuts the new SRT Viper GT3 R and Turner Motorsports goes to the BMW Z4.
Other changes for 2014 include longtime Porsche favorites Flying Lizard switching to Audi, the move of the SpeedSource Mazda team to Prototypes and the continued strengthening of driver line-ups to meet the competition.