Star-studded field set at Rolex 24

January 27, 2018

Star-studded field set at Rolex 24

January 27, 2018

The Rolex 24 at Daytona is renowned for attracting so many star drivers and teams in addition to the usual, full-season IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors.

But the 2018 edition of the race may take the cake with regards to incredible extras joining the field.

There is some crossover among the stars’ achievements below, but the 50-car field features this batch of stars and cars:

  • 20 active IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship champions from 2014 through 2017 (and a further 16 drivers who won titles in either GRAND-AM or ALMS prior to 2014)
  • 6 IndyCar champions (Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Sharp)
  • 4 Indianapolis 500 champions (Montoya, Dixon, Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves)
  • 6 active full-time IndyCar drivers (Pagenaud, Hunter-Reay, Dixon, Bourdais, Graham Rahal, Spencer Pigot)
  • 2 active Formula 1 drivers including two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso, along with Lance Stroll
  • 13 active marques (Nissan, Cadillac, Acura, Mazda, Chevrolet, BMW, Ferrari, Ford, Porsche, Lamborghini, Lexus, Audi, Mercedes-AMG) in addition to the four LMP2 constructors (Oreca, Ligier, Riley Multimatic, Dallara)
  • Nearly 50 drivers with at least one Rolex 24 victory, either overall or in class (or in some cases, both)
  • More than 30 drivers with at least one 24 Hours of Le Mans victory, either overall or in class (and in some cases, both)
  • Even among the more than 30 race rookies, that batch includes Alonso, Paul di Resta, Alvaro Parente and the van der Linde brothers among others

Bourdais, a four-time champion in the Champ Car series, explained what a big deal it is for the IndyCar contingent to reconvene at Daytona and work to win this race.

He has an overall win here with Action Express in 2014, and will seek to defend the GT Le Mans class win with Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand in their No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT.

“I think it’s just great. We get to go back racing and it’s the early kick start of the season,” he said. “Things work out really good for us to do this. It’s good to keep putting miles on your belt. I’ve been out of an IndyCar since Sonoma, and my only racing and driving has been with a Ford. It’s a good thing I’ve got that!”

Wayne Taylor’s team has the overall win to defend in its No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, with Hunter-Reay joining its new full-season pairing of Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande. They won this race last year courtesy of Taylor’s older brother Ricky’s daring late-race pass on Filipe Albuquerque.

“Well, it looks like it’s going to be the most competitive year, ever – big names, lots of chassis, lots of engines, Penske, Zak Brown’s team from Europe, Joest, and now four Cadillacs,” says Wayne Taylor of this year’s race.

“I think there’s still some balance of performance stuff I’m sure they’re still working on. But I think the cars are all pretty good right now.”

When you consider nearly 60 percent of the field has at least one past Rolex 24 winning driver in a car – 29 of the 50 cars entered have someone with at least one class or overall victory here – he’s quite right.

Here’s a look inside the pre-race driver’s meeting.

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