DragonSpeed LMP2 team has decided to launch its 2017 campaign with a challenge for outright victory in the IMSA Rolex 24 endurance classic at Daytona International Speedway on 28-29 January.
DragonSpeed, which added premises in France to its Florida base last season, continues with its 2016 driver lineup of Platinum pilot Nicolas Lapierre, Gold driver Ben Hanley, and Bronze-status Henrik Hedman, adding 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours winner, Audi Sport LMP1 alumnus, and current Formula E racer Loïc Duval to the strength for Daytona. They will steer DragonSpeed’s all-new ORECA O7-Gibson, with the team’s 2016 chassis updated to O7 specification on hand as back-up.
“Daytona is the start of an exciting new direction in sportscar racing, thanks to IMSA’s introduction of the DPi class alongside the LMP2 cars we run in the ELMS and WEC,” said DragonSpeed team principal Elton Julian. “With new cars for everybody, the race will be wide open. We’re targeting the win, not just for the prestige IMSA’s flagship event carries, but also with an eye on our goal of racing at Le Mans in 2017.”
“Our team is ending 2016 on a high,” Julian said. “The crew has shown they’re second to none when it comes to fielding a fast and reliable car. Nico is awesome every time out, Ben has more than justified our confidence in him, and Henrik has made incredible progress since his first laps in a P2 car just a year ago.
“As ORECA’s neighbors at Circuit Paul Ricard, we know how much effort they’ve put into their new package. It’s been stunning in testing and we can’t wait to get our hands on the car.”
Loïc Duval said, “Like Nico (Lapierre), I can’t wait for my first Rolex 24! It will be great to team up with him for the first time since we won Sebring together and to renew my long relationship with ORECA as well.
“I raced against Ben back in my karting days and know how competitive he is, so I’m very happy to have him on our side for Daytona. And I am really looking forward to working with Henrik, with his fantastic commitment and passion for winning.”