Saturday, January 28, 2023

ROLEX 24:Final Race Nuggets Before the Green Flag Flies

As just playing Ketsup’ with the Nonstop changing Teams and Drivers announcements…


The veritable IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship landscape keeps Ah-Chaingin’ on a weekly, or is that daily basis? Since I just cannot keep up with the Shear volume of never ending Changes! To the following updates to my ever growing No Fenders 24 Hours of Daytona Preview stories.


Like having learned during the Roar that Michelin was joining the “Green Brigade!” By introducing it’s newest “Eco-Friendly” racing tyres. But even more important was the fact that tyre allocation has been reduced from 38 sets to only 20 sets of tyres during the race! Or at least I believe that’s “Race Allotment,” i.e.; Thursday thru Sunday? And we’ll be hearing a lot about Double Stinting tyres…


Naturally, I’d Arse-sumed that Andretti Autosport IndyCar Driver Kyle Kirkwood would continue as part of the winning #14 Lexus RC F GT3 Vasser Sullivan Racing GTD Pro entry that won last year’s Petit Le Mans race He Co-Drove.


Yet instead, Kirkwood’s been announced as the fourth Pilote of the team’s No. 12 GTD entry. Joining Franky Montecalvo, Aaron Telitz and Parker Thompson in what should be a pretty Stout GTD line-up.


Initially IMSA had Capped this year’s 61st running of the Rolex 24 to 60 entries, due to the new GTP Prototypes and GT3 Spec machinery? Needing slightly larger Pitboxes.


Yet on January 5th, IMSA announced the addition of the No. 75 sunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo to the GTD (Daytona) Class, enlarging the GTD category to what initially appeard to be 25 entries. Which is now only 24 thanks to Turner Motorsport’s GTD Pro entry, noted below.


As the team’s owned by Australian Businessman Kenny Habul, and I suspect the real reason this entry was “shoehorned” onto the grid was revealed just five days later. When it was announced that fellow Aussie’ will Power would be making His Rolex 24 Debut as one of it’s four drivers. With Power joining Habul, Axcil Jefferies and Fabian Schiller.


Obviously Power’s recovered fully from His Broken Ribs Go Karting escapade last fall. And Will mused how He used to be competing against Team Boss Kenny Habul Wayback during His Formula ford days Down Under.


As Habul’s crowning moment in formula ford appears to be finishing on the Podium with Will at the 1999 Australia Formula ford support race at Surfers Paradise. Where Kenny finished third in a Sprint Qualifying race for that year’s Gold Coast Indy 300 which Power won. Although Kenny’s No slouch behind the wheel, having won the Bathurst 12 Hours last year.


Whilst I was unawares that Power had spent time racing in the V8 Supercars series. So DJ willyP’s not completely a stranger to Tintops machinery, albeit it’s Power’s Rookie foray as a IMSA GTD Pilote.


Then on the evening of January 17th, albeit I didn’t get the memo until the next morning. Power has had to withdraw from his Debutante Rolex 24 outing in order to care for His wife Liz. Whose had some setbacks from recent surgery, with a long recovery period ahead, and Will obviously needs to take care of Her.


Thus Power will be replaced by GT Veteran Luca Stoltz, who I’ve never heard of before. With DJ WillyP’ Hoping to be able to do something at Daytona with Kenny in the future…


Although it had been rumoured for several weeks, or was it months? Finally on Friday, January 6th, Rick Ware Racing announced it was running a Full season LMP2 campaign with the de rigour Oreca 07 chassis. With it’s full season drivers being Eric Lux and Pietro fittipaldi. While Pietro will also contest the entire FIA World Endurance Championship season aboard an LMP2 entry.


But it’s Andretti Autosport IndyCar Driver Devlin DeFrancesco who will be the team’s third driver at All of the Michelin Endurance Cup (MEC) rounds that had long been rumoured to have an IMSA LMP2 ride this year.


Team Penske NASCAR driver and reigning Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric will round out the RWR entry’s Drivers lineup for Daytona. As the Rolex 24 seems to be becoming Team Penske’s Playground, with it’s two Porsche 963 GTP entries,

All three of it’s IndyCar Drivers at one point, and a Cup Driver for good measure competing.


Interestingly, I noticed when beginning my Mondo’ Rolex 24 previews, that Turner Motorsport’s had split up it’s winning Driver tandem. With Robby Foley now Headlining the team’s traditional #96 BMW M4 GT3 GTD entry. Whilst Bimmer Billy’, aka Bill auberlen Spearheads it’s new #95 GTD Pro entry for the four Michelin Endurance Cup (MEC) events.


As Auberlen’s joined in the cockpit with the unknown of Chandler Holl for Mwah. Along with John Edwards, longtime Team BMW RLL Hotschue’, who I’d been wondering where He’d gone this year? With the trio being joined at Daytona by Bruno Spengler, who I tend to recall also drove for Team BMW RLL previously…


And lastly, word finally came 24 Hours before the Roar before The 24 three day test commenced that Kevin Magnussen had indeed withdrawn from this year’s Rolex 24 due to His recent Hand surgery. As Kevin will be replaced by MDK Motorsports Porsche Carrera Cup driver Jason Hart. Who’ll join Mark Kvamme, Trenton Estep and Jan Magnussen aboard the team’s No. 53 Porsche 911 GT3 R GTD entry.


Whilst Thar seems to be some Cornfuzion’ over which of the BMW M Hybrid V-8 GTP Prototypes Colton Herta will be driving? Having even read that Colton will drive both the #24 and #25 entries.


But I’ll let all of Yuhs with Eyes Sharp as Rats figure it out instead of relying on Ye Blind Word Butcher to tell Y’all which car Colton’s in…