There is definitely a buzz around the Daytona paddock with a whole lot of ‘new’ on display. The traditional whole field photocall (above) took place yesterday with all 55 cars assembled.
The DPis certainly look the part and it will be the ACO, and the Le Mans 24 Hours crowd’s loss that sees a senior IMSA source confirm that we won’t be seeing the factory cars at Le Mans “any time soon”.
Crash, bang, wallop, what a picture!
Whilst the full field shot went ahead without a hitch there were dramas for the Tequila Patron ESM squad when the #22 car ended up worse for wear after the team’s on-track publicity shoot which resulted in bodywork and cooling system damage when the teams car to car shoot went wrong.
The Nissan DPi was fixed for today’s running but a number of Onroak personnel en route to the USA are now carrying replacement parts in their luggage, after the incident bit into the limited parts supply on tap here for such a new race car.
Dragonspeed ready to roll
Overnight repairs completed around a replacement tub, the #81 Dragonspeed Oreca Gibson is ready to go today. The incident yesterday for Loic Duval in FP2 saw a 4x 6 inch hole in the tub with Elton Julian describing the incident as “wrong in all the details, speed, angle of hit, shape of barrier etc.
Honorary Starter named
Hurley Haywood has been named as the Honorary Starter for the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona. Haywood’s five overall wins of the Floridian endurance classic has been matched only by Scott Pruett – who is driving a 3GT GTD Lexus RCF this weekend.
Memo Gidley was a hugely popular addition to the roster of press conferences in the Daytona media room earlier today.
Reporting that with his most recent surgery (a spinal fusion) more than a year in the past after his horrendous 2014 accident here, he has now been cleared to race once again, the appearance served, very effectively, as a statement of intent to return to the track.
Memo paid particular tribute to the support of IMSA’s Chairman Jim France who visited him in the hospital and, it is understood, provided support to Gidley and his family.
Wilson returns to driving seat
CJ Wilson confirmed to John Hindhaugh on IMSA Radio during tonight’s Night Practice session that this season he is set to return to the driving seat. In 2017 Wilson will drive a new Porsche GT3 Cup car in the IMSA support series with a potential European race programme to be added later this year.
The baseball superstar and team owner of CJ Wilson Racing has not driven competitively regularly in recent seasons, preferring to concentrate on the business aspects of establishing and building the team.
Dean Martin Sets CTSC Pole in Newest Car in the Field
The new Ford Mustang GT4 added a further front row qualifying sweep to the trend set for the Rolex 24 runners on the same afternoon yesterday.
The (very) late addition of a Kohr motorsport car to add to the Multimatic Motorsport Mustang set up a session that saw the new factory GT4 cars from Ford sweep the front row for today’s 4 hour opening race of the CTSC season.
The Kohr team hadn’t run the car at all before arriving at Daytona with only a 20 minute dyne run post delivery, and strings having to be pulled to allow the entry!
New car niggles saw the team switch half shafts and change a driveshaft in search of a mystery vibration before finally realising there was a diff issue, thereby missing FP2!
Dean Martin though grabbed pole after “getting a great draft from one of the McLarens. I had no idea I had the pole, just that I was just ahead of the other Mustang!”
How to follow the action
Andy Blackmore’s matchless IMSA Spotters Guide is live and available for download now << HERE >>. The excellent Race Day Viewing Guide is available free of charge around the circuit too with guides for both the grid for the Rolex 24 Hours, and the supporting cast from the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge illustrated.
Every on track session for the weekend is live and uninterrupted on IMSA Radio, online around the world and at the track on 107.9 FM.