Observations on the Rolex 24

Doing some preparation for the Rolex 24 at Daytona and ended up with a bit of an overview/preview.  The more one looks, the more interesting angles there are to the race.  While prototypes may be the fastest and most likely to compete for top honors, the story for the 2016 Rolex 24 Hours is the GT cars.  Opinions on that score may vary, but it still is a compelling race even if your view differs.  2016 is the last year for the Daytona Prototype formula as we know it and the Prototype Challenge class is usually more of an intramural affair.  The driver line-ups in the big prototype cars are impressive but much of the chatter revolves around what 2017 will bring in that class.

Why is GT the story?  New cars in both GTLM and GTD, teams changing cars, and drivers changing teams and cars.  We’ll get to GTLM in a moment, but this is the first race with the full GT3 specification available to customer teams in IMSA.

GTD

There are 22 GTD cars on the preliminary entry list.  Sadly, the AMG GT3 and the McLaren GT3 offerings are not in the field but Porsche, Audi, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Dodge Viper, BMW and Aston Martin provide the variety.

Porsche 911 GT3 R, Alex Job Racing: David MacNeil, Cooper MacNeil, Leh Keen, Shane van Gisbergen, Gunnar Jeannette

Times looked reasonably tight at the Roar with most cars within a second of each other.  Clearly that is only testing and Daytona is a unique track, but the GT3 platform and prior balancing experience helps to keep things tight.  Perhaps most interestingly, however, the sector times from the Roar appear to show that different cars make their speed at different parts of the track – even among similar manufacturers.  For example, the #48 Paul Miller Lamborghini was very fast in the infield and slowest on top speed but the #11 O’Gara Motorsport Lamborghini showed almost the opposite.

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IMSA was watching as well and issued an Adjustment of Performance bulletin on January 21, 2016 with tweaks for every car in the GTD field.  The Aston Martins got the most help with the new Audi R8 LMS and the Lamborghini Huracan losing performance in the form of weight and restrictor.CZWh0HJWwAIb_1Q

It still is a bit of a shock to look around at all the change in GTD.  Five Lamborghinis?  Magnus in an Audi?  Stevenson appearing with no Camaro, but rather two Audis?  Bell and Sweedler moving to an O’Gara Lamborghini from Scuderia Corsa and then Neilsen moving from the TRG Aston Martin to take one of those vacant Ferrari seats?  Kuno Wittmer moving from the TRG Aston Martin to the GTLM BMW? Pumpelly released from Park Place Porsche and landing with Change Racing in a Lamborghini?  World Challenge Cadillac ace Andy Pilgrim released and landing alongside Patrick Long, Nicky Catsburg and Tim Pappas in a Porsche?  What about seeing ex-Falken GTLM Porsche drivers Sellers and Henzler in GTD with Sellers in the Paul Miller Lamborghini and Henzler in the Team Seattle Porsche?  Arguably, the defending GTD winning Viper team has the most stability in terms of car, driver and team.  Alex Job would also be a strong bet with his deep experience and talented driver squad and a brand new 991GT3R.33-roar-2016-dx2_8328

Dark horse?  Hard to call the Frikadelli Porsche a dark horse with so much experience at the Nurburgring and talent in the driver’s seat, but this will be their first race away from home.  Daytona is much different – arguably much less perilous than the Nurburgring in terms of traffic, weather, bumpiness of the track.  They did very well at the Roar so keep an eye on the Queen of the Ring and her team.

Porsche 911 GT3 R, Frikadelli Racing: Klaus Abbelen, Patrick Huisman, Frank Stippler, Connor De Phillippi, Sven Mueller

GTD is likely to be slightly slower in 2016 than 2015 due to the greater downforce and drag on the cars.  Fastest race lap in 2015 was about 1:47 compared to a fastest Roar time of about a second slower, but the field may be tighter in 2016.  We’ll also have to wait and see what impact the Adjustment of Performance will have.

GTLM

The big off-season story in IMSA is clearly the appearance of the Ford GT program with Ganassi Racing.  The two car team will be part of an 11 car GTLM field.  That means there will be 33 GT cars on the grid of the total 54 entries – about 60% of the field.  It is a good time to be a GT racing fan.CYNybJiWMAASGFX

The driving line-up in the Ganassi entries is stellar – perhaps rivaled only by the line-up in Ganassi’s prototype cars, but that’s a separate story.  Porsche brings two revised 911RSR cars back along with BMW with two brand new M6 cars (in place of the now-retired Z4 platform) and Corvette with two cars.  Scuderia Corsa, who ran two Ferrari 458 entries in GTD in 2015, splits their effort for 2016 with one car in GTD and another in GTLM.  Scuderia Corsa joins SMP Racing and Risi Competizione with the brand new 488 GTE platform for the car’s first outing.  The car is so new that Risi shook its car down at the factory before shipping it to Miami to have it delivered directly to the track in the days prior to the race.3810.06-Fiorano

2015 saw some epic battles in GTLM, so what did the Roar tell us about 2016?  Who knows?  Nobody has any faith that any of the times were representative of anything.  (For example, the two Porsches were together at the bottom of the chart with the two new BMWs closer to the top.) With that said, however, times were all within a second and, like the GTD cars, different cars appeared to make time in different parts of the track.  The Fords had a few incidents at the Roar which caused damage and cost time, so the Ganassi team will be hoping that the test got the accidents out of their system.

The Adjustment of Performance Bulletin on January 21 also contained from presents for the GTLM class with changes to boost ratios, fuel capacity and refueling flow restrictors.  Nobody has any incentive to show any more cards any earlier than is necessary.

Corvette and BMW finished one-two in 2015 on the same lap – no reason to think that 2016 won’t be just as close.  The BMW is a new platform, so reliability is the big question for that team.  The winning Corvette is back with Magnussen and quiet fast guy Garcia.  Factory Audi driver Mike Rockenfeller joins in place of Ryan Briscoe who moved to the Ford GT program.2016_WTSC_Roar_10

One potentially interesting angle worth watching during the race is the gaps between GTLM and Prototype Challenge.  While the GTLM cars are likely to be three to four seconds a lap faster than the fastest GTD cars, the gap could be minimal to the slower PC cars – particularly when the full factory hotshoes are in the GTLM cars and the amateur drivers are piloting the PC cars.  It wouldn’t be surprising to see GTLM cars making some aggressive moves to avoid getting held up.  The GTLM cars appear faster in a straight line, but the PC cars are more nimble in the twisty bits.

Prototype

In some ways, the Prototype class looks like the most stable class, but there are a variety of sub-plots to watch.  Michael Shank wants badly to taste success with his P2 car, particularly has he prepares to make a run at the 2016 24 Hours of LeMans.  His P2 has been fast, but sometimes fragile.  Amateur John Pew has continued to get faster, but he’s still in a class going up against full professionals.  Teammates AJ Allmendinger, Oz Negri, and Olivier Pla (now released from factory Nissan duty) will likely keep this entry at the sharp end of the field.CYZUXXKUAAAUijn

ESM will have its own P2 in the field.  ESM and Shank were at the top of the charts at the Roar, but the bulk of the prototype class was only separated by about a second.  The Ligier P2s were rewarded with additional weight via an Adjustment of Performance while the SMP team got a modest weight break.

In other news, the Ganassi team has two strong cars with fairly strong driver lineups.  Austrian and recently retired WEC driver and F1 veteran Alex Wurz makes his Daytona debut along with factory Porsche driver and new Ford GT WEC driver Andy Priaulx.  Young Lance Stroll completes the line up as the weak point – less experienced than the others by far (as perhaps evidenced by his crash on cold tires during the Roar).   The other Ganassi car is the defending race winner – the Indy/NASCAR entry with Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson.  Enough said.  Two strong bullets in the Ganassi gun.2016_WTSC_Roar_3

Mazda may be one of the more interesting stories in prototype after dropping the diesel engine in favor of a two liter inline four cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine.  The team maximized the potential of its prior diesel, but making a racing engine out of a production diesel engine was a tall ask.  Over 4000 miles of testing and a very strong showing at the Roar suggests this team may have some promise in the race.  Mazda has a lot of history at Daytona and 2106 is the 25th anniversary of its famous overall win at LeMans.  If the new Mazda engine can stay reliable in its debut, the young quick drivers like newcomer Spencer Pigot and his all American fellow drivers can be a threat.Roar Before the 24 2016

Scott Pruett moves down pitlane to join the Action Express team in search of yet another Rolex 24 victory.   Action Express has had a lot of success over the past several years and the team of Christian Fittipaldi, Filipe Albequerque and Joao Barbosa will likely run a steady and brisk pace with the goal of staying close at the end and then going racing.  This car finished second in 2015 and would like to move up a step on the podium.

The VisitFlorida team is all different with Ryan Hunter-Reay joining Ryan Dalziel and Marc Goosens in the Corvette DP.  The team finished third in 2015 with a completely different set of drivers.  (Rockenfeller will be running with the Corvette squad and Richard Westbrook joined the Ford GT program, both in GTLM.  Michael Valiante appears not to have landed a seat – at least not yet.)

Taylor Racing sees no changes, but perhaps spent some time in the off-season focusing on the driver time calculator after running into problems late in the 2015 Daytona 24 hour race costing the team a podium finish.011016_ROAR_BC_157053

The plucky Delta Wing appears to have found some funding and assembled an interesting driver squad.  The car showed well at the Roar, the fastest in the infield sections of all cars.  Mechanical gremlins in the gearbox have sidelined the car in previous endurance events, so reliability will the biggest challenge.

Russian SMP Racing brings their BR01 chassis which is another interesting story, but more about them further below.

Prototype Challenge

The headline for PC is the same as usual – fast enough to mix things up, but not fast or reliable enough to challenge for the overall.  In 2015, the top PC cars finished 8th and 10th overall.  CORE looks to improve, bringing back most of its driver lineup and looking to experienced engineer Jeff Braun to help steer the ship.

Times within the class are likely to be variable and the margins between cars and lap times wider than other classes.  Remember also that the GTLM cars may be mixing it up amongst the PC cars with the PC cars stronger in the infield.RD46553

The two Starworks entries from Peter Baron, the CORE entry, and the PR1/Mathiasen defending class winner have the depth and experience to be the strongest.  CORE in particular has several years of consistent strength.  Others may have spurts of speed and could make things interesting but the pace at the Roar suggests that they’ll have a difficult task.RD44747

What else to watch?

European Teams on the Entry Again

In the 1980s and 1990s, European teams would often head to the US for the Daytona 24 and Sebring 12 hours.  They bulked up the fields, added some additional flavor, and brought interesting cars.  There was a lot more overlap in those days with the 24 Hours of LeMans.  Without revisiting all of the gory history of Grand-Am and American LeMans Series, the European presence at Daytona has been sparse for the last decade plus.

The presence of teams and people like Franz Konrad will be a welcome sight.  Franz is no stranger to Daytona and is bringing two GTD Lamborghini entries.  While it seems a little odd to see the Konrad colors on anything other than a Porsche, he does have modest history with other marques including a brief dalliance with a Lola prototype and Saleen S7-R.  (If memory serves, the Lola had a spectacular engine failure at the Rolex 24 in 1999 and retired early to the garage.)24hDubai16_40

As noted earlier, the German Frikadelli team is making its first visit beyond the Ring.  The fastest meatball in the world started a Twitter account during the roar and quickly amassed several hundred followers.  The team is such a sensation on home soil, they may relish the chance to race slightly outside the spotlight.  Sabine Schmitz is certainly well known to Ring fans and Klaus Abbelen (a butcher, business man who has the meatball connection), but the rest of the drivers include Frank Stippler, Patrick Huisman and Sven Müller.  Huisman and Stippler are well known but young Sven is a driver to watch.  He is a Porsche factory Junior driver and has run German Carrera Cup, Supercup and WEC races.  Another reason to keep an eye on Frikadelli as a potential threat.     With perhaps the most interesting combination on the entry, Russian SMP Racing will be running a BR01 Nissan powered P2 prototype in the top class and a Ferrari 488 GTE in the GTLM class.   This will be the IMSA debut for the BR Engineering prototype, but the team has run at Daytona previously.  In 2014, they finished fourth in a Ferrari 458 run in cooperation with the ESM team.  The 488 program will be run with partner AF Corsa who has plenty of experience with the GTLM class and Ferrari GT cars in general.  The driver line-up may not be familiar to US fans, but Andrea Bertolini and Viktor Shaytar won the GTE-Am class at the 2015 24 Hours of LeMans (and Shaytar won the championship in class).  They’ll be joined by Gimmi Bruni who has three LeMans GT class wins to his credit since 2008 and is generally synonymous with Ferrari GT racing over the past 8 or 9 years.  Brit James Calado rounds out the driving strength, bringing years of single seat and AF Corsa Ferrari GT racing experience along with him.   If you’re looking for a GTLM darkhorse, the SMP Ferrari 488 entry may fit the bill.2016_WTSC_Roar_5

The team may run at Sebring as well, but has not yet announced their intentions.  The prototype will be obsolete after 2016 with regulation changes, so hopefully the team can get the most mileage and racing activity out of the chassis while it can.CYI7IcgWAAAkSHw (1)

Weather

Long term forecasts are fickle, but there aren’t a lot of indicators of anything other than an average January Florida weekend.  Mid-60s F during the day, high 40s F overnight, and no major rain to be seen.  Given the IMSA weather experience in 2015 at places like Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta, average would be just fine.

Outstanding Driver Combinations

There is an impressive list of drivers from multiple disciplines and multiple places and some really impressive combinations of drivers in cars.  There are experienced veterans and fresh novices.  There are sportscar specialists and those that make their living in other forms of motorsport or even outside motorsport in the case of some of the amateur drivers. CX4ZxZjUsAAeO-_

Some drivers have already seen action in 2016 at the Dubai 24 and a handful will head from Daytona straight for Australia to run the Bathurst 12 hour.

Lots of Reasons to Watch

A total of 54 cars with two-thirds in the GT classes.  Some very close times within classes and intriguing overlap between classes.  A chance to see how changes of drivers, cars and teams work out.  Potential spoilers in the form of teams like Mazda who have been patient and hungry and are ready to play at the front of the field.  Stellar drivers with remarkable backgrounds.  New hardware like the Ford GT and BMW making their race debut.  Factory efforts like Porsche looking to erase the memory of a difficult 2015 race.  Cars with strength at different parts of the track could make for interesting battles as the advantage ebbs and flows.StartFinishLine_620w

As usual, full coverage from the Radio LeMans team via IMSA Radio.  Many teams and drivers on Twitter and other social media combined with outlets like Dailysportscar.com make it easier to keep up with events.  Doubtless many more reasons to watch, but those ought to be enough for any motor racing fan.  Enjoy!

Photo credits: IMSA, BMW, Porsche, Mike Hull, ViperExchange, Shank Racing, Mikhail Aleshin, CORE, Wayne Taylor Racing, Action Express Racing, Risi Competizione, Konrad Racing

IMSA GT Silly Season

The news and changes have been flowing, including some surprises.

Christina Nielsen is moving to Scuderia Corsa to drive a Ferrari 488 in the IMSA GTD category.   She is moving from The Racers Group and the Aston Martin.  She finished just behind the Scuderia Corsa car in the 2016 GTD championship.

The 2016 IMSA GTD championship winning drivers for Scuderia Corsa, Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler are moving to O’Gara Motorsports to drive a brand new Lamborghini Huracan GT3 in the IMSA GTD class.  The team hasn’t yet taken delivery of the car, but they’ve been busy winning the 2015 2015 Lamborghini Super Trofeo championship.  A single Lamborghini Huracan has been shared by multiple customer teams and drivers, steadily putting on mile after mile.

Somehow Dion von Moltke still doesn’t have a ride for 2016.  He tied for third in the GTD standings with the Paul Miller Audi.  The Paul Miller team is joining the move to the Lamborghini Huracan platform for 2016.   For a driver line-up, Brian Sellers, Madison Snow and Bryce Miller will drive the Paul Miller Lamborghini.   Miller joins for the endurance races.  The pairing of Sellers and Snow is a very potent combination.

Meanwhile, the Porsche ranks are starting to become more clear.  Cars for Alex Job and Black Swan are coming.  Park Place Porsche is also reportedly going to run in 2016 with a brand new 911RSR, but driver Patrick Lindsey will not be continuing with the team.  Could there be more?

As if the IMSA GT class isn’t busy enough, the Pirelli World Challenge is busy on its own.  Somehow, Andy Pilgrim Andy Pilgrim has been dropped by Cadillac in PwC.  Could he find his way to an IMSA ride?  Gainsco/Bob Stallings, historically associated with the IMSA series, will be entering a McLaren 650 in the PWC series with Jon Fogarty at the wheel.  Sadly, McLaren is not an authorized manufacturer partner with IMSA, so the car is ineligible to run in 2016 IMSA events.

How about another Viper in the form of Lone Star Racing?  The team ran at COTA and expects to run the 2016 season with Dan Knox and Marc Goosens.  The ViperExchange 2016 details were released in October, so there should be at least two Vipers on the grid in 2016.

In the meantime, Risi expects to take delivery of its brand new Ferrari 488 in December.  Perhaps not a surprise at this point, but still worth a note that timing may be tight to get the car and get it prepared for the Roar prior to the Rolex 24.

Audi will be represented by several customer teams, including Magnus Racing with John Potter and some guy named Andy Lally.  Stevenson Racing is not only making the move to the Audi R8 platform, but took home the shared Audi test vehicle after the Daytona test.  Don’t think there has been a public announcement, but rumor suggests Flying Lizard will be running a new Audi (or two?) as well.

Oh yes.  In the category of open secrets, the full time drivers for the Ganassi Ford GT IMSA season were announced.

Is there more?  Undoubtedly.  Lots of work for teams as they start to take delivery of new cars and get them prepared for the Roar and the Rolex 24. It still would have been more fun at Daytona with Aston Martin and Mercedes.  Stay tuned…

IMSA Daytona Test notes

Once again, Marshall Pruett is a journalistic machine.  He continues to turn out high quality pieces on open wheel and sportscar topics.  The latest is a rewind on the IMSA test at Daytona posted on Racer.com.  Marshall has lots of goodies about people, tires, testing, Balance of Performance and development.

Perhaps the most potentially disappointing tidbit is the note that a deal between IMSA and either Aston Martin or Mercedes is unlikely which means no customer GT cars on the IMSA grid in 2016.

DragonSpeed brought two SLS models to the test and TRG had an Aston Martin in action as well.  (Incidentally, the Sportscar365 team posted several reports on the test.  If you haven’t read the Tuesday notebook or the Wednesday notebook, they are both worth a read.   The site also features photo galleries like this.  Dailysportscar also has posted a photo gallery from the test.)

AMG has said that their order books for the new GT3 are busy and existing customers are first in line, so they weren’t expecting to have cars available – at least early in the season.

It could still be an interesting IMSA season with a new Audi, a gaggle of Lamborghinis, a new BMW M6 platform, a new Porsche 911, a new Ford GT, the new Ferrari 488, the return of the Viper, and other news, but hopefully the Aston Martin and Mercedes can find their way to the grid at some point.  The more the merrier…

 

IMSA Daytona Test News

Cars haven’t turned wheels on the track, but lots of IMSA news coming out of Daytona today.  Some exciting, some disappointing.  Here we go…

First, the disappointing – for now at least.  The new Mercedes AMG GT3 will be at the test, but will not be on the grid for the early part of the 2016 IMSA season.  The good news is that there is a lot of interest.  Mercedes will deliver cars to existing customers who put in orders early, which means no AMG GT3 at the Rolex 24.  The silver lining also may be that Mercedes sounds interested and the issue is just a matter of logistics.  The other good news is that DragonSpeed intends to be at Daytona with two Mercedes SLS GT3 cars, so hopefully they’ll make the Rolex 24.

Second, Turner Motorsports will be running to BMW M6 GT3 entries in the GTD class.  Turner had an October test at Sebring with the car and will take delivery of its twin M6 models in December.

Third, Corvette Racing is adding some deep talent to its enduro driver line ups in the form of Marcel Fassler and Mike Rockenfeller.  Both are more recently known for success with Audi, so it is a little surprising that they haven’t ended up in Audi GTD entries if they were going to spend time in IMSA.  However, Fassler has prior Corvette GT experience and Rockenfeller has run with several times in a Corvette DP.

While not connected to the GT class, Starworks announced that Indycar driver Jack Hawksworth will join the team for the Rolex 24 in their PC class entry. Jack has prior PC experience in 2015 with another team and will be in the car during the test at Daytona to get acquainted with the team.

Want to see some photos and read some other odds and ends from Daytona?  Check out Sportscar365.com for Monday news and notes.  We should expect to see more comprehensive coverage from multiple outlets starting Tuesday.

IMSA Daytona Test Entry List

IMSA published a preliminary pre-event entry list with several drivers associated with cars.  It is on the IMSA website and available here.

There will certainly be more gaps filled in before wheels turn and there is a lot of news coming out of Daytona today.  In some cases, like Ganassi Racing, the driver line-up is shown as TBD, but the identities are becoming an open secret.

 

Audi IMSA news and Ford GT development

Yet another day of IMSA GT news.  Stevenson Motorsports confirmed their move to a two car 2016 IMSA GTD entry with customer Audi R8.  That’s a major move for a Continental Tires support series team to move up to the big show and move from GM to Audi.  At the same time, Magnus Racing announced its move from Porsche to a customer Audi R8 program.  Magnus also confirmed that some guy named Andy Lally – noted possum killer– will continue to drive for them.

As Audi Sport’s Brad Kettler says to Marshall Pruett in Racer Magazine: “Wait until teams get a hold of this bullet.”

Marshall Pruett also reports on the continuing development of the Ford GT platform by the Ganassi Racing team.  As vintage Dave Letterman would say, for those of you scoring at home or even for those of you who are alone, Ganassi is scheduled to have two cars at the upcoming IMSA test in Daytona.

Did you see the new Audi R8 that was on display and won at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring?

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IMSA November Test Entry

IMSA will be hosting an open test at Daytona on November 17-18.  Want to see the schedule and regulations for the test?  They’re posted on the IMSA website in the competitor’s section here.  Want to see the preliminary cars entered and the inspection schedule?  That’s posted on the IMSA website here.  Check back for updates before the test gets underway.

The prototype class has some of the usual suspects, but some have new driver line-ups.  Action Express has two cars and VisitFlorida (Flis) has one car.  The Mazda program will have one car entered along with the Delta Wing.  Michael Shank will bring a Ligier with a new chassis. The PC class shows 5 entries – two from BAR1, and one each from Starworks, Core and JDC.

20150514-140854351Perhaps the most interest revolves around the GT cars.  Factory entries with brand new GT3 models will be represented from Audi and Mercedes.  Customer teams have not yet taken delivery of their models.  Similarly, a Lamborghini GT3 will be present, although teams haven’t received their cars either.  Ganassi will have two new Ford GT examples, Riley will have a Viper, TRG will have an Aston Martin, and Turner will have a new M6 GT3.  Dragonspeed is bringing two Mercedes SLS cars in hopes of being able to run them at the Rolex 24, even though manufacturer “support” fees haven’t been resolved with IMSA yet.  There is a single Porsche 997GT3 from Autometrics Motorsports.  In GLTM, Corvette will have two cars and BMW will have a brand new M6.

20150514-140855012Ferrari’s new 488 cars are being tested in Italy and haven’t been delivered to customers yet.  Porsche has only started making deliveries of the new 991GT3R. There will be more Audis and Lamborghinis on the Rolex 24 grid, so teams are just getting to know the factory cars at this point rather than running their own mounts. It seems unlikely that we’ll see a Mercedes AMG GT3 at Daytona, but the fact that Mercedes is bringing a factory car to Daytona is a good sign – perhaps only for the longer term, but a good sign.

A summary story has been posted on Sportscar365 as well.  Stay tuned for more…

Another day, more IMSA GT3 and GTLM news

The pieces of the 2016 IMSA GT3 puzzle continue to fall into place.  Fan favorite Bryan Sellers was announced today as driver along with young hot-shoe Madison Snow at Paul Miller Racing in a Lamborghini Huracan.  Bryce Miller will join the team for the endurance races.  The team leaves its 2015 IMSA customer Audi program and former drivers, so it is changing both car platform and pilots.   Paul Miller Racing hasn’t taken delivery of its new Lamborghini yet, but got track time at Road Atlanta in the factory test car (albiet in mixed conditions) and will get more time at the IMSA test at Daytona coming up on Nov 17-18.

In other Lamborghini news, O’Gara Motorsport formally confirmed its new drivers of Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler who will run in the IMSA GTD class in 2016.   Bell and Sweedler won the GTD championship in the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari and visibly gained momentum and strength through the season.

20150626-261656281Meanwhile, the Risi Ferrari team is getting a closer look at the new 488 turbo which is getting testing miles in Italy.  Marshall Pruett reports that the team will skip the IMSA test in order to send staff to Italy.  The team is looking forward to getting a new 488 and would like to run the car in the 2016 IMSA season, but it doesn’t know yet whether they will take delivery in time for the Rolex 24. 20150626-261658432
June 26, 2015
Watkins Glen IMSA 6 hours, pre-race warm-up

Still hope for Mercedes in IMSA?

Dragonspeed is still holding out hope of running a Mercedes SLS in the IMSA Rolex 24 race.  They are going to run two cars at the IMSA November test at Daytona while IMSA and Mercedes negotiate to find a way to address IMSA’s manufacturer admission/support fees.

Mercedes plans to attend the November test with a factory GT3, but a debut in January at the Rolex 24 still seems unlikely.  They have interest but no public news of US teams who have actually ordered cars.

With so much interest and so much to gain by having MBZ in IMSA grids, we hope that the parties find a way to get it done.

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May 15, 2015
Nurburgring 24 Hours, MBZ paddock area
Mercedes AMG GT3

Ferrari GTE/GT3 news

The Ferrari new 488 GT3 and GTE were just unveiled at Mugello.  Ferrari is targeting a debut at the Rolex 24, but that is uncertain.  An appearance at the November IMSA test seems unlikely at best.  Here is a great video showing a 488 GTE livery timelapse.  Speculation suggests that Scuderia Corsa will run 1-2 cars in GTD, but likely start the season in the 458 rather than 488 model.  Risi is expected to run a 488 in the GTLM class at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.  There won’t be many Ferraris in the IMSA field, but the 458 has been a strong horse – including claiming the 2015 IMSA GTD championship with Scuderia Corsa in the hands of Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell.

Moving pictures from Bozzy’s Youtube channel: