Tag Archives: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

“Fernando Mania!” – Vickie Miller Talks To EnduranceandGT.co.uk About The 2018 Roar Before The Rolex 24 (10.01.18)

Photo: Vickie Miller

Sportscar journalist Vickie Miller (@viclovesracing) was track-side at Daytona International Speedway for the 2018 Roar Before the Rolex 24. Vickie shared her thoughts with EnduranceandGT.co.uk editor Andy Lloyd on a fascinating weekend of testing, qualifying and racing ahead of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

With the evolutions and development that the IMSA WeatherTech Championship has undergone over the last three years, my guess is that the organisers were feeling very happy about the state of the championship for 2018. Was that the impression that you got at the Roar this year?

“Yes, it was. When I attended this event years ago it seemed like it was me and ten people and that was it. Now it has grown into this thing that is called the Roar. Right now, if you buy a ticket to the Rolex 24 you get in to the Roar for free and a lot of Scouts use this weekend for camping. In fact, the Prototype Challenge race was called the ‘Scouts of America Race For The IMSA Prototype Challenge’. A group of us were talking when we saw the crowd this past weekend. It’ll probably be the last weekend it will be for free because IMSA is going to find a way to make money on it but that’s just my opinion.”

“The Roar this year was fantastic. Over the years the field has become not only more international but more diverse with DTM drivers and rally drivers and this year we had Fernando Alonso. The Rolex 24 at Daytona has grown in popularity therefore the test and the Roar has grown in popularity. Needless to say I’m sure IMSA considered it a huge success!”

There was a lot of comment about the cold temperatures this year. Is it unusual for Florida to get that cold at this time of year?

“It is unusual to get that cold. It’s cold for us – for someone from NYC or Chicago – no it’s not cold. But it was cold for us! In Florida rarely we will get a frost so it was unusual to be that cold and it was also very windy. That has to do with the fact that Daytona is right there on the ocean. You’re going to have wind and that also makes it a little colder.”

With the temperature as cold as that, did the teams still feel that they were getting the same value out of the test?

“They did. It was cold last year for the Rolex 24 and it gets cold at night regardless so I think they will see those temperatures again for the Rolex. I think we’re going to have a cold Rolex again this year. Filipe Albuquerque unfortunately lost his luggage so he had to go and buy coats when he first got here. You really need coats and gloves and hats and I think a lot of the drivers felt the cold. Once you’re in the car you can’t feel it but they did feel it going from their hauler across to the garages and, as a result, they didn’t circulate as much. They didn’t go into the media centre and walk outside as it made it uncomfortable for them. They tended to stay in their haulers more than what they probably would have.”

FA a.a. 18.01.10

Photo: www.imsa,com

Did you feel that the media had a different approach to this race with Alonso present this year?

“Yes I did. Normally when you go to any race you get media opportunities for teams just as at the Roar they did. Team Penske was in the media centre. However, you had Alonso doing a lot of press conferences on his own and you don’t normally have that at the Roar or the Rolex. So firstly there was a lot of media attention and times when he was in the media centre alone, sitting up at the desk answering questions and that was different.

The other thing that was interesting was that so many fans were gathered around his garage. I’m sure you’re familiar with Patrick Dempsey who used to race in IMSA and when Patrick Dempsey showed up you knew to stay away from his garage so it can make it difficult when you have a celebrity show up. It also makes it a little difficult for teams in the neighbouring garages to work when you have that many people around but as far as media attention goes, yes, he had the most microphones in front of him and he had the most reporters wanting to take time with him by far ahead of anyone else. It was called ‘Fernando Mania!’

That name came about at the Indy 500 and at the Roar press conference they asked him; “Do you think you will see the same Fernando Mania here at Daytona as you did at Indy?” and he said yes. He enjoyed it so he said he was hoping for the same at Daytona.”

The Prototype Challenge has undergone a real evolution this year and staging the first race on the Saturday certainly, I felt, gave the whole test an additional level of interest. That was a really good race, wasn’t it?

“I’m very glad to hear you say that because I am one of only a few people I know who enjoyed the PC class. I liked it as I felt it gave a different opportunity to an upcoming new driver that wasn’t available anywhere else. But it has been kind of like the step-child, if you will, of the series in the past. But not only having the MPCs but the LMP3s in there helped elevate it and the winner Roman De Angelis could not have been more enthusiastic and that helped it as well. He was just so happy. The driving was very good and I think it is going to bring attention to that class which it needs. “

IPC a.a. 18.01.10

Photo: www.imsa.com

It was great to see Roman De Angelis so excited after his win. That is going to be a name to watch in years to come.

“Yes, definitely. This was the first time that I know of where they used the Roar test weekend to have an actual sanctioned race to kick off the series for the PC class. That was impressive and they also had a Sunday qualifying for the garages and the pit allocation and not for the actual race. There will still be qualifying for the actual race positions.“

But looking at those qualifications sessions, even though they weren’t qualifying for grid positions, there was still some interesting results there. In the GTD class we had GRT Grasser Racing coming out on top ahead of Andy Lally and Magnus Racing and Patrick Long in the Wright Motorsports car. That GTD class looks very competitive, doesn’t it?

“Yes, I totally agree. It will be interesting to see their times between their qualifying for pits and qualifying for the race to see if they are as close. If it were me, I wouldn’t want to go all out for the pit and the garage. You do want to go fast to get the good location but they’re still going to have to mix the classes down the pit road so they don’t all pit at the same time next to each other. But they still went out there and pushed – they’re still competitors!”

Looking at the prototypes and the Cadillac domination, it looks as if this could be Cadillac clean-sweep of the top three places at the moment, doesn’t it?

“Yes it does. I don’t know if that’s going to stick or not but yes. It will be very interesting to say the least.”

Some of the teams might have come away a little bit disappointed after that test. Mazda Team Joest, after all the preparation and testing and months of effort, to come away with 8th and 20th in that session, they must have been a little bit disappointed, weren’t they? Was that the impression you got?

“Yes but you know what? If you watched that Mazda team, they just seem to have struggled over the last three to four years. I’m not sure what their issue is. John Doonan is a wonderful person and I was hoping that by now, by the Roar, they would have had more figured out. I was very disappointed for them. I would like to see them jump to the top and be challenging on the track but I’m not really sure what the problem is there.”

An entry that interested me was the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing JOTA team, the “Young Guns” car but yet they didn’t quite stand out. What was your impression of that entry?

“If you’re not used to drafting and the high banks, Daytona is a different beast. Lance Stroll is young, they’re all young guns in there. But it’s a little different. I think the Roar is exactly what it is. It should be approached as a test, a practice. Drivers in teams like Action Express have been driving on that track for ten years. They know every bump, every groove and there is a difference between walking the track and driving that track.

So I agree. It’s one of those entries you look at on paper and on paper you think they should be faster than this but the reality is that if you’re not used to Daytona I could see that you would be a little more cautious. An approach of “Let’s just learn right now and then we’ll go fast when we come back”.

A lot of the teams are testing at other places, They’re going to Sebring and other places to test and I think that will give them a feel for that car. Testing at Sebring doesn’t match the high banks of Daytona but it might get you more comfortable with that car. It can only help.”

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship The Roar Before the Rolex 24 Daytona International Speedway Daytona Beach, FL USA Sunday 7 January 2018 #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi: Felipe Nasr World Copyright: Richard Dole LAT Images

Photo: www.imsa.com

Were there any driver’s performances that stood out for you over the course of the weekend?

“One of my favourites, and I’m glad to see him back, is Felipe Nasr who was in the Whelen car. I remember him from years ago when he was the Sunoco UK winner and he was in the Michael Shank DP car. I remember, when he was there that year, I said; “This gentleman’s got it.” I didn’t know who he was and the first time I met him was in the pits in his Sunoco UK firesuit and he tore off in that car. He was the one I thought would take off and do very well and he did. So he was the one I was watching for the weekend.”

Thank you to Vickie for taking the time to share her reflections on 2018 Roar Before the Rolex 24.

The Rolex 24 at Daytona is held on the weekend of January 25 – 28.

De Angelis Wins IMSA Prototype Challenge Opening Round At Daytona. Dr Masson Takes Victory In MPC. (06.01.18)

Photo: imsa.com

Roman De Angelis, driving the #4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3, won the opening round of the 2018 IMSA prototype Challenge at Daytona International Speedway.

Pushing De Angelis all the way to the line was David Droux in the #47 Forty 7 Motorsports Norma M30, a car he shared with Austin McCusker.

Taking the final podium position in the LMP3 class was the #30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3 driven by a hard-charging Daniel Morad in the second stint and started by Kris Wright.

The MPC class was won by Dr Robert Masson in the #11 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02. The victory for Dr Masson, the renowned neurosurgeon and father of Kyle Masson, was his first in the IMSA Prototype Challenge.

Continue reading De Angelis Wins IMSA Prototype Challenge Opening Round At Daytona. Dr Masson Takes Victory In MPC. (06.01.18)

Magnus Racing Confirms IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Full-Season Entry (04.01.18)

Photo: Magnusracing.com

Salt Lake City, Utah-based Magnus Racing has confirmed that it has committed to a full-season entry into the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Team owner John Potter and 2012-16 team driver Andy Lally will be joined by Andrew Davis for the North American Endurance Cup. Marcus Winkelhock will join the line-up for the Rolex 24 at Daytona

John Potter is looking forward to the season ahead.

“We’re excited to return to IMSA competition and our endurance roots,” said Potter. Obviously Magnus has enjoyed a number of successes throughout the years of IMSA and formally Grand-Am and in our first season with Audi in 2016 we had one of our best seasons to date. Returning to the series for 2018 we feel stronger than ever, not only with an incredibly fast car but also the same screw that took us to victory in 2016 as well as an incredible line-up in Andy, Markus and Andrew.”

“With our team I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by such an incredible group ad we hope we can begin with immediate success!”

Continue reading Magnus Racing Confirms IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Full-Season Entry (04.01.18)

‘I Can’t Wait To Get Out There And See How We get On” – Zak Brown Looks Forward to The Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona. (02.01.18)

Photo: Unitedautosports.com

Garforth-based United Autosports is heading out to Daytona International Speedway, Florida confident in its driver line-up and machinery ahead of the Roar Before the Rolex 24.

The team’s #23 Ligier JS P217 will be piloted by double Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, 2018 McLaren Formula 1 test driver Lando Norris and experienced prototype driver Phil Hanson. The #32 entry will have another equally famous name in its line-up when 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 champion Bruno Senna joins ex-Formula 1 and DTM star Paul Di Resta and United Autosports regular drivers Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer behind the wheel in the traditional build-up to the opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Both entries have strength in depth in their drivers. Alonso’s experience at the highest level of single-seater racing is well-known. Lando Norris won the 2017 FIA Formula 3 European Championship and was named as 2018 test and reserve driver for the McLaren Formula 1 team in November. Phil Hanson competed in the LMP2 class in both the 2017 European Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship with Tockwith Motorsports.

Bruno Senna drove alongside Julien Canal and Nicolas Prost in the #31 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA 07 to win the 2017 FIA WEC LMP2 title by 11 points. Senna drove a brilliant final stint at the season-finale in Bahrain to take the class victory, grappling with power-steering problems whilst being pursued by Oliver Jarvis in the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing entry.

Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer drove alongside Filipe Albuquerque in the #32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 to finish second in the LMP2 Teams Trophy in the 2017 European Le Mans Series, finishing second in the final round at Portimão.

FA a.a. 18.01.02

Photo: Unitedautosports.com

Fernando Alonso is looking forward to his first taste of top-level endurance competition.

“It’s a true pleasure to go back racing in the States, in front of US fans,” said the Spaniard. “In less than a year I will have competed in two legendary races which makes me very proud. In the last couple of months, I have been spending time watching several Daytona 24 Hours, which made me even keener to go out there and try myself. It’s going to be fun.”

Paul Di Resta is also looking forward his debut in endurance racing.

“I’m really looking forward to starting the 2018 season so early on,” said Di Resta. “I have never done this before in my career and it’s something new to me – endurance racing, in the US, at Daytona. I had a small taste of the LMP2 car in early November and I really liked how it was. Now the real business will begin. I liked what I saw in the team and I hope it only works better when the pressure is on.”

Team owner and Chairman, Zak Brown, who introduced his Formula 1 driver to the Indy 500 in 2017 is equally raring to go.

“I think we have two really strong line-ups for our Rolex 24 at Daytona campaign,” said Brown. We have a great mix of talent that includes experienced drivers and quick racers. I can’t wait to get out there and see how we get on.”

The Roar Before The Rolex 24 at Daytona gets underway at 11:00 local time on Friday January 5.

Excitement Builds For 2018 ‘Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona’ (01.01.18)

The North American sportscar racing calendar fires back into life on the first weekend of January 2018 with the ‘Roar Before The Rolex 24’, the traditional three-day test session for the entire field before the Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona on January 5 – 7.

50 entries have been accepted for the 2018 Roar; 20 in the premier Prototype class, nine in the GT Le Mans (GTE) class and 21 in the GT Daytona (GT3) category.

In the Prototype class, the 2017 overall-winning #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DP1-V.R is back with a revised driver line-up. For 2018 Jordan Taylor is joined by Renger van der Zande and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Van der Zande drove the #90 Visit Florida Racing Ligier LMP2 in 2017, finishing third at Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona, 8th in the overall Prototype standings at the end of the season and 7th in the drivers standings.

Hunter-Reay drove for the team at the season- ending Petit Le Mans round at Road Atlanta, finishing 38th alongside Ricky and Jordan Taylor after the car completed 97 laps.

Much additional interest in the Prototype class, however, has been generated by the entry of two ORECA LMP2s by the Jackie Chan DCR JOTA team. The Chinese team, run by Kent, England-based Jota Sport, almost took the outright victory at the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans after the faster LMP1 machinery fell by the wayside. Jackie Chan DC Racing finished 1st and 2nd in class at the French classic and were runners-up the LMP2 class in the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship.

For Daytona, the team is fielding the #37 car with a ‘Young Guns’ driver line-up of Lance Stroll, Felix Rosenqvist, Daniel Juncadella and Robin Frijns. Stroll has just finished his first season in Formula 1, driving for Williams Martini Racing, where he finished 12th in the drivers standings. Stroll has had one previous outing at Daytona International Speedway when, in 2016, he drove for Ford-Chip Ganassi Racing, finishing 5th overall in the Riley-Ford Ecoboost he shared with Alexander Wurz, Filipe Albuquerque and Andy Priaulx.

Swedish-born Rosenqvist has had limited running in prototypes, having had one outing in FIA World Endurance Championship in 2017 and one in 2016 in the Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM09 in the PC class of the IMSA Weather Tech SportsCar Championship.

The second Jackie Chan DCR JOTA entry, the #85 ORECA LMP2, will be piloted by team regulars Ho-Pin Tung and Alex Brundle. Additional drivers have yet to be an announced.

The class spotlight must, however fall on the #32 United Autosports Ligier LMP2 which will boast double-Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso behind the wheel. Alonso’s test for the Indy 500 generated huge media interest in 2017 and his run in top-level endurance racing will attract no less attention.

The GT Le Mans class will see nine entries with two each from Corvette Racing, BMW Team RLL, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing with its pair of Ford GTs and Porsche GT Team. The Italian marques will be represented by Risi Competizione and its Ferrari F488 GTE with Alessandro Pier Guidi its current declared driver.

Having withdrawn from the premier class of prototype racing at the end of the 2017 season, all eyes will be on the Porsche GT Team as it re-focuses its top-level sportscar programme on the GTE class and the Porsche 911 RSR.

The biggest class field will come from the GT Daytona grid where 21 entries have been accepted. With the global growth in GT3 racing, this will be hard-fought class. Alegra Motorsports won in 2017 with its Porsche 911 GT3 R. In 2017 the Stuttgart manufacturer will be represented by three Porsche 911 GT3 Rs. 2017 Pirelli World Challenge champions Wright Motorsports has entered the #58 car, to be piloted by 2017 PWC drivers champion Patrick Long, double-IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona class champion Christina Nielsen, Robert Renauer and Mathie Jaminet, whoi drove alongside James Sofronas in their championship-winning Pro-Am pairing.


Manthey Racing is bringing the #59 car for Steve Smith, Harald Proczyk, Sven Muller and Matteo Cairoli while Park Place Motorsports has the #73 Porsche 911 GT3 R entered for Patrick Lindsey, Jörg Bergmeister and Tim Pappas.

In a development for 2018, qualifying for the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona will take place during the Roar Before the Rolex 24, in three separate 15-minute sessions for the classes.

The first track-action for IMSA WeatherTech field at the 2018 Roar Before the Rolex 24 will be at 11:00 local time on Friday January 5 for Practice 1. The IMSA WeatherTech field will have the opportunity for seven practice sessions in addition to qualifying.

Full details can be found at www.imsa.com with links to timing and streaming.

Christina Nielsen And Patrick Long Join Forces With Wright Motorsports For 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (13.12.17)

Photo: wrightmotorsports.com

Batavia,Ohio-based Wright Motorsports has announced that it will contest the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Wright Motorsports’ GTD-class Porsche 911 GT3 R will be driven current GTD champion Christina Nielsen and long-standing Porsche factory driver Patrick Long.

Wright Motorsports Principal John Wright is excited at the prospect of the 2018 season with Nielsen and Long.

“I am very pleased to have this great opportunity come together in such a short time,” said Wright. “It is a tremendous opportunity to be heading back into the endurance racing arena with such a strong program. In my experience, I haven’t seen too many driver combinations better to compete for a championship than what I think we will see in Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen.”

“I’m also happy to have Patrick back for the 2018 season,” continued Wright. “Coming off this year’s championships, our momentum could not be stronger than it is now. I am looking forward to working with Christina and seeing her behind the wheel of a Porsche. We have tried to make something happen in the past, but due to different circumstances we were never able to pull anything together. The stars have aligned to make it possible for this year and hopefully years to come.”

2017 Pirelli World Challenge champion Patrick Long is looking forward to continuing his partnership with Wright Motorsports.

“I am thrilled to continue my journey with Wight Motorsports for the 2018 season,” said the Californian driver. “We will have our work cut out for us starting with two of the biggest international endurance races in sports car racing, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, but I am confident in the group’s ability. Christina has been on an amazing run with her two titles over the last two years and I want to blend that momentum with our 2017 title and aim for victories right out of the box.”

Two-time GTD IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title-winner with Scuderia Corsa, Christina Nielsen is also looking forward to 2018 with Long and Wright Motorsports.

“I am really looking forward to being back in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and I am absolutely thrilled that we’ve come up with such a strong combination with Wright Motorsports and Porsche,” said the Danish driver. “I’ve had a great run for the last three years, but it won’t be easy to do what I’ve already done. For me the biggest thing is to go into 2018 without relying on any previous results. We’ll start from scratch beginning with Daytona and go from there.”

The 2018 IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship opens with the Rolex 24 at Daytona on January 27-28.