Thursday, January 28, 2016

ROLEX 24: 2016 Race End of Line for the Daytona Prototype's

If you're a Fan of the Daytona Prototypes, then Y'all better check 'em poundin' round Daytona's High Banks one final time - Which presumably will be shown for at least a few hours on Fox Sports-1 before disappearing off of most of Americres Cable TV Households to Fox Sports-2...

Pretty sure I touched upon I-T briefly here at No Fenders somewheres', becoming aware of the impending demise of the previous NASCAR owned Grand Am's Flagship Daytona Prototypes going away at the end of 2016, but Alas, where'd I-T go; Hya!

Viola! Or SNAP! As Jeffie of My Name is IRL used to say! As Racer's Marshall Pruet has just penned the following update...

Already mentioned that this is the final year of the DP's with Thy Rubber Match seeing Ford hoping to claim the final Rolex crown vs. Chevrolet's multiple wins during the Grand Am's DP era, albeit the first year saw Kevin Buckler's The Racer Group Porsche 911 GT3R win overall in 2003.

Pontiac powered chassis won twice (2004-05) followed by Chip Ganassi's Lexus Hat Trick  stopped by Porsche propelled chassis "Double" 2009-10.

Ganassi returned to the podium's top step in 2011, now with BMW power, followed by that Oh, So memorable (2012) 50th Daytona 24hrs win by the late Justin B-I-G' UNIT Wilson & A.J. "Big Shot Allmendinger for Michael Shank Racing's Riley Ford DP being the meat in Ganassi's BMW's "M Power" Strudel "Double upon winning once again in 2013.

Then Chevy returned to the "Winner's Circle" in 2014 with Action Express Racing followed by Ganassi's Ford "Eco-boost" lump' - For which No Fenders Poppa Bear Tomas Sr. fabulously decreed: There AIN'T NO Economy in Motor Racing! As the Ford v Chevy scrum sees the Bowtie leading 3-2 whilst Thy Cheepsters' squad leads overall with most Rolex 24 victories with six...

Ford v Chevy'
For Mwah, the B-I-G' NEWS is that Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) will defend its overall victory last year by running their Ford "Eco-boost" Daytona Prototypes for their final Rolex 24 eligibility, since wasn't sure if thy Cheepster', nee Chip Ganassi would be too engrossed with his Ford GT "Works" program to run the DP's?

But fear not, as once again , defending  Rolex 24 winners Scott Dixon, the reigning quadruple IndyCar champion along with team-mate and Good Buddy TK "follow-your-Schnoz" Kanaan will co-drive with Ganassi's Roundy-round Taxi-cab Boyz Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson in the No. 02.

But the interesting CGR line-up is the second car, the No. 01 featuring newly un-retired Sports Car Ace Alexander Wurz with Team Willys' (Williams F1) latest "Simulator Jockey;" Err Development Driver signatory, Canadian teenager Lance Stroll, who'll be making his Daytona 24 Hours and Sports Car debut at the "World Center 'O Speed."

Joining this unlikely Wine & Cheese set, as the young Whippersnapper Stroll hopes to emulate elder Wurz's ascension into Thy Pinnacle 'O Motorsports, nee Formula 1, where ironically Wurz drove for Team Willy (Williams F1) in his latter years.

As the Team Willy "Duo" will be joined by a highly accomplished pair of European racers with former triple WTCC champion Andy Priaulx aboard, as Priaulx is the only Touring Car Ace to have ever won four consecutive titles! With reigning World Endurance Champion (WEC) Brendon Hartley also at the Keyboard, as the Kiwi' Porsche factory Hotschue AIN'T NO Slouch!

Meanwhile as previously scribbled here at No Fenders, Scotty "Scooter" Pruett has made the switch to the reigning two-times Prototypes champions Action Express Racing squad for endurance events, where he'll co-drive with the formable JB', aka João Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi aboard the #5 "Mustang Sally;" Err Mustang Sampling Corvette DP, whilst "Symone Pagenoe," whom No Fenders 'Offical Photographer christened "Pageantry," aka Simon Pagenaud will Moonlight aboard the team's Seester' #31.

As Scott Pruett will be a busy man this Rolex 24, being officially listed upon three separate entries on both of Action Express Racing's Corvette DP entries plus the aforementioned F Performance Racing GT Daytona class Lexus...

Less not forget the other two potent Bowtie's flying the flag for Team Chevy, i.e.; Wayne Taylor Racing and Spirit of Daytona, as thee No. 10 featuring the "Brother's Taylor" and Max "The Ax" Angelli posted the top time at The Roar Before whilst I've always been a Gynormous Fan of Messer "Razzle Dazzle," aka Ryan Dalziel, with the former Rolex 24 winner never getting a proper shot in Indy Cars due to "the Split;" but I digress... As Dalziel & Company in the #90 definitely shouldn't be overlooked as potential winners.

Having just learned that RHR', aka Ryan Hunter-Reay will co-drive the No. 90 in four events including Daytona, along with Sebring, Long Beach and Petit Le Mans.

While Rubinos' (Rubens Barrichello) addition to the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing driver lineup has just been announced days prior to the race.

And Scott Pruett's Lexus GT3 project has been delayed slightly, with Pruett slated to go to Japan for talks after Daytona and testing hopefully beginning in April...

 Triple Shot of Diversity...
Three very different types 'O machinery will make this year's Rolex 24 ever interesting, as one sports a Diesel, one's uniquely shaped and the other's of unknown commodity.

The Diesel in Questione is the Mazda, but this brace 'O Diesel's aren't Farm Tractors, as they're turbocharged and one of my personal favorites, Tristan Nunez - My 2012 nifSTAR Trophy Winner will once again be at Thy keyboards, this time piloting the "Double Nickel," aka #55 with rookie IndyCar driver Spencer Pigot as one of his co-drivers.

In deference to David Bowie's sad demise, I'll christen I-T the Space Oddity now, as once again the Delta Wing will try pointing its unique Flying V shape towards the front end of the grid, as that other Rayhall, nee Shawn, NOT Graham; Hooah! Will partner Thy Leggy Juan', nee Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick aboard the No. 0 Panoz Delta Wing Racing entry.

Lastly, the Daytona Prototype Beast of unknown commodity is SPM Racing's BR Engineering designed BR01 Nissan V-8 chassis comprising of 50% Russian racers, notably Mikhail Aleshin, who'll be making his sophomore IndyCar campaign for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports this year.

After having visited Grab Bag Sports and reading the Speedgeek's Prototypes preview, I discovered that  Mazda has eschewed their Skyactive Diesel racing motor in favour of an inline 2.0-litre four cylinder turbocharged lump' to propel their Lola P2 derived chassis this year instead.

Last but by NO means least are two other teams of note, i.e.; Michael Shank Racing and Extreme Speed Motorsports, (ESM) with both being powered by "Blown" Hondre' (Honda) lumps bolted to their Ligier JSP2 backsides.

With NO disrespect to Shank's regular season drivers Oswaldo Oz' Negri and John Pew, I was drawn to MSR solely due to the Justin Wilson and A.J. Allmendinger connection, as A.J. will be trying to console himself with the absence of close friend Wilson during this year's Daytona 24 Hours race.

ESM is ex-IndyCar racer Scotty Sharp's concern funded by Ed Brown and his Tequila Patron patronage, as both of these P2 Prototype derivatives shouldn't be discounted, albeit I don't expect them to win.

Although I'd be happy to see Scott Dixon, 'TK & Co grabbing another Rolex, along with one of the Corvette Heavy Hitters, i.e.; #5 or #10 claim the win, I'll choose some other deserving winners instead...

Hopeful Winner Picks
1) #01: Chip Ganassi Racing; Riley-Ford DP
2) #90: Spirit of Daytona; Corvette DP
3) #31: Action Express Racing; Corvette DP

This is the class I know the least about, along with not really caring much for, since it's the only truly 100% Spec category - For which Indy Cars has made the lame ARSE attempt of distancing itself from the Spec-chassis stigma with them vaunted AFX Aurora Aerokits; but I digress again...

Two drivers of note in this class featuring identical Oreca chassis with Chevrolet BOOMIN' big-block naturally aspirated V-8's are Indy Cars Jack Hawksworth and ex-Open Wheel Racing Ace Martin "Plowie" Plowman.

As Hawksworth, who's returning for his second season with A.J. Foyt Enterprises this year will be co-driving the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport car.

Meanwhile "Plowie," who has briefly competed in Indy Cars, most recently doing the Month 'O May's "Double," the vaunted Grand Prix Road Race and Indy 500 ironically for 'Ol SuperTex, nee A.J. Foyt in 2014 prior to Hawksworth's arrival will make up part of Cor Autosport's #54 driver's roster.