Thursday, January 26, 2023

ROLEX 24: 2023 Sees Debut of New GTP Hybrid Class

In what’s a veritable Two-by-Two Congo line of four Manufacturers…


This year’s Rolex 24  sees the unveiling of IMSA’s brand new Le Mans Daytona Hybrid (LMDH) Prototypes Class called GTP making it’s debut. Where nine Shiny new GTP entries will vie for Overall victory. Since Cadillac’s bringing three cars to the party!


While I’ve tried previewing the four major Manufacturers in a previous No Fenders tome below.


With two supporting Prototype classes, i.e.; LMP2 and LMP3 comprising of a further 19 entries, for a total of 28 Prototypes in this year’s 61st running of the 24 Hours of Daytona.


Whilst another Mega’ Saloons’ grid of 33 GT3 Spec machinery is split between the GTD Pro Class and Thar “Kissing Cousin’s” GTD (Daytona) entrants, giving us a total Grid of 61 racecars! Magically matching this year’s 61st Rolex 24 running.


But as Always, I prefer listening to the race via IMSA Radio with it’s lead announcer John Hindhaugh & Company. Arse-sumedly Y'all can catch the start of the race, along with multiple hour's television coverage once again  on Big NBC and USA Network,. Along  with the majority on that Dreaded, Nasty Paywall service called Peacock, Cock Ah Do-little doo! And Yes, it really is a Paywall!


As I’ll leave it up to Y’all to Check Your local listings for TV/Streaming Broadcast times.


(GTP) Grand Touring  Prototype Class


Acura ARX-06

Engine: 2.4-litre V-6 Twin Turbo


#10) Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport

#60) Meyer Shank Racing


Seventy-two Hours after Christmas, Wayne Taylor and Mikey A’ announced that Andretti Autosport had bought an Ownership Stake in Wayne Taylor Racing. (WTR) Hence the rebranding to Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport. With plans to presumably move the WTR Operation in House to Andretti Global’s new Fisher’s Mega Complex by 2025. Although WTR will run it’s Acura Sports Car programme virtually unchanged this year.


Thus Honda continues with it’s split strategy for it’s two Acura’s between the Defending Race winner, IndyCar’s Meyer shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing, the 2021 Rolex 24 winner.


Beginning with the Defending Champs Meyer Shank Racing, (MSR) the Ohio based Squad sports another  new Driver line-up for 2023. With former DTM racer Tom “the bomb” Blomqvist being partnered by longtime Sorts Car Ace Colin Brown as the No. 10’s  regular season HotSchues’. With the Duo being joined by MSR IndyCar Drivers Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud during the Endurance rounds.


Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport will once again field Ricky Taylor with Filipe Albuquerque as its regular season drivers. While WTR-Andretti comes loaded for Bear once again this January! As Kiwi’ Bad Arse Sports Car Driver Brendon Hartley and Louis Deletraz fill out it’s Daytona lineup. As Deletraz will serve as it’s Endurance Specialist. While Hartley will “Moonlight” at Daytona, since His “Day Job” is being a Toyota Werks’ FIA World endurance Championship (WEC) Pilote.


Meanwhile, the Acura ARX-06 chassis features the Sewing Machine-like 2.4-litre Twin Turbo v-6 powering it’s rear wheels, being the smallest displacement engine on the GTP Grid. Although I think it’s the Highest Revving lump’ competing? Revving to 10,000RPM. Which I’m guessing is the IMSA GTP Class’s maximum RPM limit?


Although Racer’s Marshall Pruett notes that the Acura is the highest revving lump’ on the grid, screaming to 9,500 RPM’s in His GTP 101 Tech videos…


As Honda Performance Development (HPD) had originally produced the AR24E engine to serve as both Honda’s future 2.4-liter IndyCar engine and current Acura Sports Car engine, before IndyCar was forced to Pull the Plug upon it’s upcoming new 2.4-litre engine formulae.


As here’s the first of Marshall Pruett’s GTP 101 Tech videos, which gives a great look and description of the ARX-06’s key elements…



Cadillac V-LMDH

Engine: 5.5-litre normally aspirated V-8


Nos. 01-02) Cadillac Racing

#31) Whelen Engineering Racing


IndyCar diehards should also already know that Chip Ganassi Racing, (CGR) a la their longtime IndyCar rival Team Penske. Will campaign two LMDH Prototypes this year, as the Werks’ Cadillac Racing organization. With one apiece in IMSA GTP and the WEC’s Hypercar Classes.


As Cheeps’ #01 IMSA GTP entry’s season regulars will consist of Renger van der Zande and the former Sealmeister B’, aka le Hamburgular’, nee SeaBass’ or simply Sebastien Bourdais. Whilst Scotty Thee Iceman 2.0' Dixon will once again Continue his Enduro' Specialist role he's enjoyed for years in the #01 Cadd-Oh-lacc’. With Dixon aiming to claim His fourth Rolex wristwatch Overall. To Potentially join the rarefied company of Peter Gregg, Rolf Stommelen and Bob Wollek.


The Seester’ #02 FIA World Endurance Championship’s (WEC) Fulltime Chauffeurs will be Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn. With “Westie,” aka Richard Westbrook sliding over from JDC Miller Motorsports to be it’s Endurance Specialist.


Perennial IMSA Prototype Champions Action Express Racing (AXR) will only run one brand new Cadillac V-LMDH Prototype this year, having “Parked” it’s second No. 48 Endurance Rounds Only entry for now.


And I have to say I’m most intrigued by the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Caddy’s Drivers lineup for Daytona and beyond. With the team making it’s 24 Huers du Mans Debut this June


As the No. 31 sports it’s third new Full season Drivers lineup in the past year, with Pipo Derani being the only constant. With the Brazilian Speedster now being joined by Alexander Sims. But it’s their new Endurance Specialist Jack “Achey Breaky” Aitken whom I’m most interested in.


As Aitken currently served as the Williams F1 Reserve Driver and is a former FIA Formula 2 race winner, with a best Overall finish of fith. Aitken also races in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) and the ACAC GT Masters.


Alexander Sims has previously driven for Corvette Racing and BMW Team RLL in GT Le Mans. Along with a four year stint in Formula E.


As Cadillac is the only competitor running a normally aspirated engine. Sporting  a brand new version of It’s tried and true past 5.5-litre Small Block V-8 motors. As I’m guessing that the GM designed 32 valve DOHC lump’ utilizes the current Flat plane Crank technology, mated to the new spec Energy Recovery System. (ERS)


With the Caddy’s lump’ revving to 8,800 RPM’, the second highest revving engine according to Marshall Pruett, who boldly claims it’s the Bruiser of the GTP category which pays Homage to Eddie Van Halen with it’s “Flying V” rear wing appendages. Which Marshall points out in the following video…