Countdown to the Rolex 24 at Daytona: GTD
GT Daytona enters the season with what is probably its stoutest subject in years. Because the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season looms with this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, the full-season grid, in addition to the Michelin Endurance Cup, is as robust as ever.
Beginning with a overview of final 12 months’s champions, let’s check out the gamers. Roman De Angelis received the general GTD drivers championship, alone on the prime as a result of he had totally different co-drivers within the No. 27 Coronary heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3. This 12 months he has Aston ace Marco Sorenson, winner of the FIA WEC GTE-Am championship with Ben Keating final season, as his full-time co-driver. They need to make a formidable pairing. As for predictions, De Angelis says the image possible received’t start to turn out to be clear till it’s somewhat deeper into the season.
“I don’t assume we’ll have an important concept till after Daytona,” De Angelis says. “There’s all the time actually robust lineups… you will have Paul Miller that’s retaining their Madison Snow and Bryan Sellers lineup, which has all the time been actually robust. Turner all the time exhibits up with a really robust lineup. After which a few of the newcomers as properly, I’m certain will probably be fairly stout lineups and nice groups. So it’ll be attention-grabbing to see the place everybody pans out in the direction of Sebring and farther into the dash races as properly.”
Inception Racing received the Michelin Endurance Cup, Brendan Iribe and Jordan Pepper taking the honors within the No. 70 McLaren 720S. Final 12 months, Inception didn’t do the complete season, however plans to do it this 12 months with Iribe and Frederik Schandorff, with Ollie Millroy becoming a member of them for the endurance occasions. On the Dash aspect, perennial contenders Paul Miller Racing with Sellers and Snow took the title in a brand new BMW M4 GT3. The workforce solely took supply of the automobile after Daytona, however wins at Lengthy Seashore and Lime Rock delivered them the Dash title. This 12 months we’ll get to see what the 2018 GTD champions, then with Lamborghini, do with a full season after a 12 months of studying the BMW.
“I believe that among the best issues about our program is we’ve little or no turnover internally,” says Sellers. “And after I say little or no, it’s really no turnover. We’re nonetheless mainly geared up precisely the identical as we’ve been since 2017. So I believe the power of our program is the individuals behind it, our crew guys, our engineering, administration, all that sort of stuff. So in that respect, I believe will probably be superb. We nonetheless have fairly a little bit of studying to do, I believe, on this aspect with the BMW, however I believe we’ll be in good condition and I believe we’ve a superb grasp on it. However we nonetheless have fairly a bit to perform earlier than we are able to simply say, ‘Hey, we’re exhibiting up each single weekend (as) the automobile to beat.’”
The Paul Miller Racing squad heads into the season with a 12 months of BMW expertise to construct upon. Jake Galstad/Motorsport Photos
Frankly, any of those groups has a stable shot on the GTD championship, however there are a number of others which have proven some promise. Beginning with Winward Racing, Russell Ward and Philip Ellis would have been within the thick of the battle for the title had it not been for some minor errors and unhealthy luck. On the finish of the season, they appears to have turned that round and took a few victories late within the 12 months. Already off to a superb begin to 2023 with the pole place for the Rolex, the No. 57 Mercedes-AMG needs to be a well-recognized sight on the entrance of the sphere.
Fellow Mercedes-AMG runners Workforce Korthoff Motorsports needs to be a contender as properly. Stunning everyone with their power within the 36 Hours of Florida, Mike Skeen and Stevan McAleer saved that momentum up and McAleer was preventing for the title properly into Petit Le Mans. That power earned the workforce a Mercedes ace in Mikael Grenier, who will associate with Skeen for 2023 within the No. 32 after McAleer was moved to Gold within the FIA Driver Categorization.
“I believe we stunned ourselves and a number of different individuals right here final 12 months, after which having the ability to sort of proceed that effort all year long,” says Skeen. “And we realized so much alongside the best way. Lots of people have modified inside the program as properly. I’ve all the boldness in Mik as a co driver this 12 months. And I believe we’ll be actually robust on that entrance. But additionally greater than that, we made actually optimistic modifications with the personnel, and I believe our over-the-wall efforts will in all probability be so much higher this 12 months. Hopefully that’ll put us in higher positions to capitalize on a few of the efficiency we had final 12 months.”
Driver Categorization has additionally affected the longtime pairing of Invoice Auberlen and Robby Foley within the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3. Foley is now a Gold, so Auberlen strikes to the brand new No. 95 entry for Turner, which will probably be a GTD PRO Michelin Endurance Cup marketing campaign. Foley now has the very succesful Patrick Gallagher co-driving with him, Michael Dinan becoming a member of in for the endurance races.
Frankie Montecalvo had robust qualifying leads to 2022, however he and Aaron Telitz couldn’t convert these into wins within the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3. That included getting taken out from pole place at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. If they’ll flip that round, they could be a pressure to be reckoned with.
There aren’t any issues concerning the tempo of the No.12 Vasser Sullivan, Lexus RC F GT3, however full-timers Frankie Montecalvo and Aaron Telitz will probably be hoping for somewhat extra good luck in 2023. Jake Galstad/Motorsport Photos
Jan Heylen and Ryan Hardwick, who took victories at Daytona and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca final season and remained within the championship hunt all 12 months, haven’t dedicated to a full season within the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. In any other case they will surely be talked about among the many contenders.
Final 12 months, Wright was the one workforce working a full season with Porsche. This season, with the brand new 992-generation of the 911 GT3 R, there are no less than 4. Wright added a second automobile for Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman. If Brynjolfsson can stand up to hurry within the GT3 automobile, final 12 months’s Michelin Pilot Problem Grand Sport champions would possibly make a mark. MDK Racing has the No. 53 for Mark Kvamme and Trenton Estep. AO Racing joins with PJ Hyett and Seb Priaulx in a workforce co-owned and run by Gunnar Jeannette. Kellymoss comes with two new Porsches, aided by Riley Motorsports, one for Carrera Cup North America star Kay van Berlo and Alan Metni, the opposite an MEC effort for David Brule, Alec Udell and Andrew Davis.
One other new full-season workforce, though acquainted, is Gradient Racing working the No. 66 Acura NSX Evo22 for Sheena Monk and Katherine Legge. Former IndyCar driver Legge has been a daily in IMSA WeatherTech Championship competitors and is accustomed to the Acura, having pushed for Michael Shank Racing when it ran Acura’s program in GTD. Monk is new to GT3, however has carried out properly in MPC Grand Sport, and the 2 have some historical past.
“I used to be a part of Sheena’s first ever racing expertise, when she did her first race ever in Lamborghini Tremendous Tofeo,” Legge explains. “I coached her for a 12 months in Trofeo after which she went on to achieve a bunch of expertise in GT4. I didn’t have a lot expertise working with Sheena or what she was able to since that point and holy moly, she’s come a great distance. She has impressed everyone within the workforce and inside HPD and Acura.”
Forte Racing involves the championship with a brand new Lamborghini Huracán Evo2 run by US Racetronics and Shane Seneviratne. Loris Spinelli and Misha Goikhberg will compete the complete season within the No. 78.
Then there are a number of MEC-only groups to supply somewhat additional pleasure for the endurance races, together with a pair with the brand new Ferrari 296 GT3. AF Corse will subject the No. 21 with Simon Mann and Luis Perez Companc the core driver lineup. 2022 12 Hours of Sebring winners Cetilar Racing can even have one, the No. 47 with the Daytona lineup of Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto, Antonio Fuoco and Alessandro Balzan. Iron Lynx, together with the Iron Dames, will probably be fielding a few Lamborghini Huracans as they put together to introduce Lamborghini’s LMDh automobile subsequent 12 months.
Magnus Racing returns with the No. 44 Aston Martin Vantage for John Potter, Andy Lally and Spencer Pumpelly. Lastly, after testing the waters at Sebring final 12 months, GT World Problem America Professional-Am champ Ashton Harrison, together with Kyle Marcelli and Danny Formal, will race a Racers Edge with WTR-fielded Acura within the MEC.