Daytona in July: What’s changed for Michelin and IMSA

July 2, 2020

Daytona in July: What’s changed for Michelin and IMSA

July 2, 2020

This weekend, after more than five months, IMSA is back in action with the WeatherTech 240 from Daytona International Speedway (Saturday, July 4, 6 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

This also marks Michelin Motorsport’s global return to racing among its five global championships (IMSA, MotoGP, ABB FIA Formula E, FIA World Endurance Championship, FIA World Rally Championship).

Throughout the impacts of COVID-19, Michelin has focused on the health and safety of its employees with difficult decisions in regard to its operational activity.

Working closely with IMSA and its partner teams, Michelin consistently collaborated on plans for the return to racing to ensure its products and services to the paddock were at the expected level.

A much bigger crew at Daytona in January compared to what will be on site at Daytona in July. Photo: Michelin North America

There will be only six Michelin staff members on site in Daytona this week compared to 40 technical leaders, engineers and motorsport tire specialists at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Operational and logistical support partner Jackson Motorsports Group is working with a similar smaller number, 17 staff this week compared to 60 in January.

Michelin Details

There is quite a bit different for Michelin in Daytona in July as opposed to Michelin in Daytona in January.

When you look by the numbers, this is quite a different animal compared to the massive team effort at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

For more information, click these links:

The Schedule

IMSA has made several schedule adjustments compared to its planned 2020 outlay. Races at Long Beach, Detroit and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park have been scrapped, with second dates added in Daytona and Sebring in July.

Road America and VIRginia International Raceway are the only two venues to keep their initial 2020 dates.

Then from September on, the schedule is significantly shuffled: Watkins Glen, Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio are all out of position in September before a two-week break prior to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and Motul Petit Le Mans in October.

Races at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Sebring again, for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, will wrap the year. However, “subject to change” remain three very popular words throughout 2020.

The Field

The 26-car grid that lines up for this two-hour, 40-minute sprint race is down 12 cars from the 38 that competed in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. It still covers 12 automotive brands.

DPi and GT Le Mans remain as is at the Rolex 24, save for a couple exceptions. The same eight DPi cars resume. However, Mazda has had a change in its motorsports program vendor with Multimatic Motorsports, rather than Team Joest, now running the RT24-P cars. Risi Competizione will not be running its Ferrari 488 GTE in GTLM, leaving just the six full-season entries spread two apiece across BMW, Chevrolet Corvette and Porsche.

While BMW Team RLL seeks its third straight Daytona GTLM race win, Rolex 24 GTD winners Paul Miller Racing are among the notable absences in July. Photo: Michelin North America

The biggest changes come in GTD. Rolex 24 champions Paul Miller Lamborghini and polesitters PFAFF Porsche are among the teams not entering this race, and their return dates for later this year are uncertain. Lamborghini on the whole drops from five Huracan GT3s in the Rolex 24 down to one.

With a handful of other endurance-race only entrants scaling back, the 12-car class features nine tentative full-season entrants joined by newcomers Gradient Acura, Hardpoint Audi and Compass McLaren in their 2020 season debuts.

LMP2 is not running this race, which drops five cars from the Rolex 24 field. That class is set to resume at the July Sebring round.

IMSA’s two Challenge series, MICHELIN Pilot Challenge and Prototype Challenge, are also set to resume at Sebring.

Virtual to Real World

Both IMSA and Michelin were busy supporting virtual racing in the last few months in the absence of on-track activity. Michelin’s commitment to sim racing also included its partnership with Gran Turismo, announced last August.

IMSA completed its six-race IMSA iRacing Pro Series in mid-June. More than 100 drivers made at least one start, with BMW driver Bruno Spengler securing the championship. Per IMSA, on average 126,000 viewers watched, and each race averaged 107,000 social engagements.

Michelin also supported the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, officially organized by the ACO. Some IMSA teams and drivers participated in that, notably Acura Team Penske, Corvette Racing and Porsche GT Team. Penske and Corvette brought in most of their IMSA lineups while Porsche utilized Nick Tandy in its GTE-class winning No. 93 Porsche 911 RSR. That gave the Englishman the unique distinction of winning both the real and virtual Le Mans, coincidentally on the same day five years apart.

Videos

Here are IMSA’s four videos counting down to the race return this weekend.

Additionally, here are two videos from Michelin’s event operational and logistical support partner, Jackson Motorsports Group.

How to Watch

NBCSN will air live coverage of Saturday’s race at 6 p.m. ET, with coverage also available on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

IMSA Radio airs all sessions, flag-to-flag, commercial free online.

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