Can one of the all Star Penske Acura DPi's win upon Thar Debut at Daytona this year? (Image source: sportscar365.com)
As will Team Penske win upon Thar DPi Debut? Or can Scotty Sharp's ESM Nissan concern keep Thar winning streak intact?
For last year's riveting No Fenders Rolex 24 Prototypes preview, I found seven entrants listed for the 55th running of the 24 Hours of Daytona, which I regaled Y'all in;
As it's always encouraging to see a racing series new format or technical regulations package seeing increased growth in its second year, as the Prototypes class has Mushroomed overall to Gasp; 21 entries! If I've done my ryth-Muh-tickin' correctly? While the manufacture derived Daytona Prototype International *DPi( Class has increased its numbers by three, to a total of ten with the addition of two Acura's and one more Caddy'.
Having lavishly been upon thou Californian & Oregon Trailz' for a fortnights time, I haven't had a chance to read All Duh latest, dizzying Fodder pertaining to this year's Rolex 24. Hence, I'm just jotting my first, preliminary thoughts that come to mind upon researching this year's entrants...
Engine: 3.5-litre V-6 Turbo
Team: Acura Team Penske
#6) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dane Cameron and Simon Pagenaud
#7) Helio Castroneves, Ricky Taylor and Graham Rahal
Surely most IndyCar Fans Attenzione will be squarely focused upon El Capitano's, nee Roger Penske's latest foray into Sports Car racing, after having wrassled the Hondre' Works programme away from Michael Shank, in order to field his two car All Star lineup, featuring two of Indy's Biggest names, i.e.; Castroneves & Montoya. While in typical Penske tradition, Thars' NO weak links in the Driver selections, as "Symone Pagenoe," nee Pageantry, aka simon Pagenaud and The Graminator', nee Graham Rahal will contest the endurance events. With two of the past two year's series championship winners filling out the ranks.
And although I'm not expecting Penske to win this year's Rolex 24, since they've yet to run a 24hr Enduro' in race conditions, nonetheless, it's worth noting that Michael Shank Racing with a similarly powered Ligier JS P2/Honda Prototype won the 2016 Petit Le Mans...
Cadillac DPi VR
Engine: 5.5-litre normally aspirated V-8
Teams: Action Express Racing, Spirit of Daytona Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing
#5) João Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi
#10) Jordan Taylor, Renger van der Zande and Ryan Hunter-Reay
#31) Eric Curran, Felipe Nasr, Mike Conway and Stuart Middleton
#90) Tristan Vautier, Matt McMurray and Eddie Cheever III
While Wayne Taylor Racing is the defending Rolex 24 winner, that's about all that remains the same from last year, as Thars' changes ah-plenty in the Caddy teams lineups en masse.
As Jordan Taylor's the only holdover from the No. 10 Daytona and series winning Cadd-Oh-Lac' from last year, as his brother Ricky's jumped ship to Penske and both RASSCAR' legend Jeffry "Pretty Boy" Gordon and Max "the Ax" Angelelli are now enjoying their respective retirements from racing.
Former Spirit of Daytona Racing chauffeurs Renger van der Zande and "The Dude!" RHR, aka Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2014 Indy 500 champion will co-drive with Jordan, with van der Zande running the full season.
Similarly, Action Express Racing's (AXR) two car squad features "Tweaked" Driver Rosters. But don't count out AXR, who after all have won three consecutive Daytona Prototype (DP) class titles between 2014-16.
Twice with the formable Duo of JB', aka João Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi Jockeying Thar' familiar No. 5 "Mustang Sally" Steed; Err Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi, As João 's Countryman Filipe Albuquerque joins the Mustang racecar cockpit Fulltime in 2018, with Fittipaldi taking on a new team role and just contesting the endurance events.
The team's Seester' car #31 Welland Engineering Caddy,
, the2016 series DP Champions with Dane Cameron & Eric Curran, saw Cameron depart for Acura Team Penske at the end of last year.
As Curran will now be partnered by former Sauber F1 Pilote Felipe Nasr for the season, while some Dude known as Mike "Ice-Ice, Baby!" Conway returns for another crack at winning a Rolex watch. And Stewart Middleton, winner of last year's Welland Engineering Challenge takes the fourth seat as his prize.
Spirit of Daytona Racing campaigned the lone Riley/Multimatic LMP2 Spec chassis last year, with van der Zande & Mark Goosens as its drivers. But for this year's Weathertech SportsCar season, the #90 will be a shiny new Cadillac VR racer instead, along with an all new compliment of chauffeurs.
As ex-IndyCar driver Tristan Turbo' Vautier joins the squad. Along with Matt McMurray, who formerly piloted a Porsche 911 in the GT Daytona class. With the interesting third Schue' being some Potato Chip munchin' Indy 500 winner's son.
But most interesting to Mwah, for which I wasn't awares' of, the Chevy; Err Cadillac's have had Thar' engine's displacement downsized seven-tenths of a litre, now sporting the same engine as the Corvette Racing GT Le Mans cars?
Engine: 2.0-litre Inline-4 turbo
Team: Mazda Team Joest
#55) Jonathan Bomarito, Harry Tincknell and Spencer Pigot
#77) Tristan Nunez, Oliver Jarvis and Rene Rast
This is the Daytona Prototype International Team I'm most curious about, even more so than Penske's, as Mazda's massively revamped their DPi programme. Most notably by effectively re-designing their chassis, along with switching race teams last year, from Speedsource Engineering to Europe's Team Joest, who are well known for winning le 24 Heurs du Mans outright many times; Ja volt!
Thus the majority of the Driver Ranks are new recruits with just Bomarito & Nunez being Holdovers, whilst once again FAST EDDIE's' (ECR) lead Gunslinger Spencer Pigot will Moonlight at this year's Rolex 24.
Nissan Onroak DPi
Engine: 3.8-litre V-6 turbo
Team: Extreme Speed Motorsports
#2) Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and Olivier Pla
22) Johannes van Overbeek, Pipo Derani and Nicolas Lapierre
The Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Squad's coming off a 1-2 finish at last year's season finale Petit Le Mans with the bulk of its driver core intact, along with a past driver returning to the fold, nee Olivier Pla. As the only new Schue is this Lapierre Chap, who's name sounds somewhat familiar to Mwah.
As the Nissan's theoretically should be Cadillac's fiercest rival for victory, while the verdict's still out upon the Acura's, and the Mazda's are the Dark Horses in the DPi contingent...