Friday, January 23, 2015

ROLEX 24: What type of "Sprint Race" will the 2015 Daytona Enduro' Be?

Can Tracy Krohn's new Ligier JSP2 Judd powered (LeMans) 'P2 car upset the "Apple Kart" at this year's Rolex 24? (Image source:
And more importantly, who all will show up? Since when I began trying to prepare this typical yarn from thy lair 'O Tomaso Manor in Nofendersville, ('Wayback in late November - early December) the details of who'd eventually be contesting this year's 53rd running of the Rolex 24 were pretty sketchy...

And, Thanxs solely to Santa, I'll be pullin' a "FAST EDDIE!" Aka Ed Carpenter, a la his consecutive I500 Poles; I'll be missing the B-I-G' Race once again for the second year in-a-row whilst busy enjoying funky 'lil Adult beverage concoctions  with umbrellas in 'Dem on the B-I-G' Island!

For Last year's riveting  (and remote) B-I-G' ISLAND Rolex 24preview post, see; ROLEX 24: Changes Abound for2014 running of Daytona endurance classic

And as always, don't forget to  check out those zany "Stick 'N Ball" Sports Guys over at Grab bag Sports for their annual 24hrs live 'round-duh-clock Blogathon  - for which I have NO idea what NARLY '80's racing movie will be their pick 'O thy liter; Err litter Hya!

Otay, with the No Fenders Pre-amble outta the way, sorta, a cursory look at the muddied waters  of the Tudor United Sports Cars championship's "Premiere" class, i.e.; Prototypes, who you'd naturally ARSE-SUME the races overall winner will come from includes the following machinery.

Eligible Prototypes
Corvette DP, Riley DP/Ford Ecoboost, (V-6 turbo) P2-Honda/ARX, P2-Ligier/Honda Twin-turbo, P2-Ligier/Judd, P2-Mazda Skyactive Diesel.

As it's worth noting that IMSA, the series  sanctioning body, and its competitors, manufacturers, etc, agreed to basically "Grandfather" the Daytona Prototype chassis for the series first  three years, before an all new, P2-ish most likely chassis becomes the top banana for racers in 2017...

As of Pre "Roar Before" Daytona, the following entries were listed as contestants in this year's Rolex 24; January 24-25, 2015:

Action Express Racing; Corvette DP, Extreme Speed Motorsports, Honda ARX-4b, (P2) Michael Shank Racing*, Ligier-Honda Twin-turbo, (P2) Chip Ganassi Racing,  Riley/Ford Ecoboost, (DP) Speedsource; P2-Mazda Skyactive Diesel.

Michael Shank Racing originally intended to  run its Riley DP/Ford  for Daytona and then switch over to a P2-Ligier chassis for remainder of the season. Yet with Honda coming onboard, as MSR basically became the Honda "Works" prototype entry, electing to run a Honda 2.8-liter V-6 twin-turbo (or is it 3.5?) mated to its Ligier JSP2 chassis, the team decided to begin this new era at Daytona instead...

Action Express Racing and Speedsource were the only teams with two confirmed entries 'Wayback in November, 2014. Although pretty sure that Scotty Sharp's Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) will campaign a brace 'O Honda ARX-04b's this year too.

Action Express has bolstered its driver's lineup with the addition of "MAD MAX" (Papis) while apparently Cheep' (Ganassi) is re-toooling his Sports Car operation...

I'd expected to see Scott Dixon and Kyle Larson at the very least figuring into the Ganassi line-up; whilst it'd sure be nice to see the usual brace "O red Ganassi chassis on hand, albeit not sure if this will happen with Target "redirecting" its spending of its Sponsorship Dinero? As I was right; Tuh Duh! As CGRFS (Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) announced its two car multi driver line-up Dec 18th with the announcement of the No. 01 being piloted by full season regulars Scott Pruett and Joey Hand, who'll be joined by Charlie Kimball and Sage Karam. While the No. 02 will see Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson at its controls. 

Joey Hand, an ex-Ganassi racer, most recently contesting the DTM for BMW replaces Pruett's longtime co-driver Memo Rojas, who's left Ganassi after apparently plateauing, as I'll be interested to see where the multi-times Daytona Prototype champion lands at next? Whilst reportedly the Target red will be replaced by Ford's blue oval colours in what apparently could lead to an assault upon le Circuit de la Sarthe in 2016?

Le Hanburgular, aka SeaBass, nee Sebastain Bourdais has been confirmed to drive for Action Express Racing in the "Enduros, nee North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) events...

Wayne Taylor Racing and Spirit of Daytona Racing will field full  season TUSC efforts, with Taylor's Corvette "skinned" DP perched upon a Dallara chassis, with the latter Spirit of Daytona team using the dominant Coyote platform instead.

Ryan "Razzle-Dazzle" Dalziel  has joined Extreme Speed Motorsports along with John "CCR" Fogarty, who'll be running the Endurance races, i.e.; Tequila Patron Endurance Cup events. (NAEC) With Fogarty being a transplanted Pacific Northwest Boy living in Bend, Oregon for awhile now...

As I'm most interested to see; Uhm, hear; Err read how the "slower" P2 chassis do, most notably the Ligier JSP2 cars, albeit I'd expect the MSR car to have potential teething issues? But it'd be funny to see a P2 car defeat the mighty Corvettes and Ford "Eco Boost" mobiles!

Whilst a few Dark-horse candidates have to be considered, as look for a few Riley DP bodied Dinan-BMW's to make "Hay"  at this year's Rolex 24...

Only "Spec-series" category in TUSC, with all competitors utilizing Oreca FLM09 chassis propelled by naturally aspirated 6.2-liter "Bowtie" (Chevrolet) LS3 V-8 lumps.

Indy Cars  A.J. Foyt Racing's "Union Jack" (Hawksworth) is slated to contest the class once again at 'DayToner...

As always, this category will most likely be dominated by Porsche 911 Panzerwagons going Hammers 'N Thongs;' Err Tongs; Hooah! vs. Ferrari 458 Italias, while I'm ARSE-sumin' that the factory C7R 'Vettes (Corvette) will run too "Works" efforts again... Most likely with Antonio Garcia, "MAGS," (Jan Magnussen) "Ollie" (Oliver Gavin) and Tommy Milner making up the core driving roster, while perhaps Ryan Briscoe will become a new fulltime addition in '15?

Forgot to mention Meesh's favourite Sports Car owner Bobby Rahal's Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team and their two car "Works" BMW Z4 squad, whose stout driver line-up includes longtime ultra BAD ARSE' BMW Factory Hotschue Bill Auberlen and John Edwards, along with Germany's Lucas Luhr and Dirk Werner...

Look for "Dr. McDreamy," aka Patrick Dempsey aboard his No. 58 Porsche 911 in this year's GTD category. (Image source:
This will be another fun category to watch with its diversity of Tintops; as I'm guessing that the Audi R8 will be the car to  beat, as interestingly,  longtime Porsche 911 runners Flying Lizards have gravitated to this chassis. And did I read that right? Porsche  stalwarts, and past Daytona 24hrs overall winner TRG is now racing Aston Martins? While surely there'll be plenty 'O 911's and rival 458's to keep the class leaders honest.

First GTD squad outta duh box to announce their driver line-up was Scuderia Corsa, 'Wayback in November, 2014, with Indy 500 racer and "Peacock-lite" (NBCSN) IndyCar Booth Boy Townsend Bell pairing with Bill Sweedler aboard the No. 63 Ferrari 458 Italia.

While apparently I didn't get the Memo, as indeed, The Racer's Group (TRG) has been campaigning an Aston Martin Vantage GT3 powered by a burly six-liter normally aspirated V-12 in the GTD Class since 2014...

And reportedly TRG's 2015 entry will see two thirds of its driver strength consisting of 'Aussie James Davidson and Denmark's Christina Nielsen. Hmm? While that name immediately made me think of past 24 Heurs du Mans winner Jon Nielsen and those iconic Silk Cut Jaguars; yet Christina's the daughter of racer Lars Eric Nielsen, not Jon. As  NO idea if there's any relation here?

While Diehard Indy Lights and IndyCar fans will recognize the name James Davidson who's made three IndyCar starts, most notably in last year's Indy 500 where he appropriately ran the No. 33 for KV "Whats Yuh Muh-Callit" in deference to his being the races thirty-third entry.

Davidson made his first two IndyCar outings in 2013 for Dale Coyne on the "Twisty" circuits Mid-Ohio and Sonoma, his first Open Wheel Racing endeavours since 2009 when he finished runner-up in that year's Indy Lights championship for Vision Racing, for which I believe he was romantically involved with TG's daughter Lauren George once upon a time...

Dorsey Schroeder, 1989 Trans Am champion and longtime Sports Car TV commentator will come out of the broadcast booth after 12yrs to fill-in for Brian Johnson of "AcaDaca" (AC DC) fame, who's currently on tour in the 50+ Highway to Health's Riley-BMW DP.

Don't be surprised to see "Simone Pagenoe", aka "Pageantry," nee Team Penske's Simon Pagenaud behind the wheel of one of the Corvette Racing's C7R's, or DP's? As not sure where he'll land, but rumours claim he'll be driving a Bowtie during the Rolex 24 and Sebring 12 Hours before concentrating on his "Day Job" for 'El Capitano's first ever four car IndyCar team.

Once again, I'm ARSE-sumin' Fox Sports-1 (FS1) will be airing  the race live, albeit couldn't find any information when posting this... Thus, NO FREAKIN' idea actually when they'll be broadcasting or how many hours? Or what the air-times will be, whilst I'm guessing some will only be available via web-stream? So as always, CHECK  your local listings...

Otay, I'm not exactly going out on a limb here, as I'd ARSE-SUME that it'll be either one of the Corvettes or Ford DP's in victory lane...

Naturally the "FoMoCo" Man in Mwah would wish for one of Chip Ganassi's "Ford's" to win... While I'm a huge believer in Massimiliano "MAD MAX" Papis, along with always liking "Razzle-Dazzle" and "Born On the Bayou" John CCR' Fogarty, whilst how could Yuhs bet against the potent trio of Fittipaldi, Barbosa and Bourdais, eh?

Although I'd LUV' reading that the ESM Boyz had surprised the IMSA Stalwarts, while I'd also enjoy the MSR team to be victorious, but just don't see I-T happening in their debutant race chassis-wise, ditto for Tracy Krohn's "Grabber Green" Ligier-Judd...

1) #1/2: Scott Sharp, Ed Brown , Ryan Dalziel & John Fogarty
2) #02: Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Jamie McMurray & Kyle Larson
3) #31: Max Papis & Co

This is the class I know the least about; still awaiting info on the Corvette C7R's prior to the Roar Before, whilst I'd like seeing John Edwards, "The Driver" atop the classes podium's top step...

1) #24/25: John Edwards, Bill Auberlen,  Lucas Luhr & Dirk Werner
2) #3/4: MAGS', Ollie, Garcia & Co.
3) #911: Earl Bamber & Co.

Otay, going the sentimental route here, albeit suppose A-L-L of my picks are that, eh? But think it'd be nice to see Townsend Bell winning, although not sure if he'd be showing off his watch the rest of the year during his IndyCar TV Gig, like Hey 'PT, (Paul Tracy) Betcha DON'T have one of these Buddy! Uhm? Does anybody know what time it is; Hya!

Whilst I'll, along with the rest 'O thee Paparazzi, will be curious to S-E-E how "Dr. McDreamy," aka Patrick Dempsey does? As I'm ARSE-sumin' he'll be racing in the GTD ranks aboard his No. 58 Dempsey/Right Motorsports Porsche 911 RSR with Madison Snow and Jan "Van Hagar" Heylen...

1) #63: Townsend Bell, Bill Sweedler, Jeff Segal & Anthony Lazzaro
2) #58: Madison Snow, Jan Heylen & Patrick Dempsey
3) #007: James Davidson, Christina Nielsen, TBA

As let's GO RACING! Enjoy the race Y'all, and may the best team win!