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Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona: Pre-Race Paddock Notes

News from Daytona as the race draws closer

Peter Baron joins Land

Montaplast by Land Motorsport’s IMSA season is set not to be as a full a year as the tema hoped.  The final campaign is yet to be confirmed it looks set to number around six races.

Starworks boss Peter Baron plus a number of his regular crew are working alongside Land Motorsports personnel for the IMSA campaign with the US end of the operation handling logistics and transportation as well as other support, the core German team engineering is the car.

Christopher Mies meanwhile has new nickname on the side of the car – Giggity Giggity Mies a reference to the character ‘Quagmire’ from Family Guy, the crew deciding that their star Audi factory driver has a startling facial resemblance to the cartoon character!

Who else is here?

Amongst the VIPs touring the paddock have been a delegation from the ACO and FIA WEC.

ACO President Pierre Fillon and WC CEO Gerard Neveu were seen taking in meetings as well as the paddock atmosphere throughout the day accompanied by technical representatives as discussions continue on finding an opportunity for a future common set of regulations between IMSA and ACO prototypes

Another familiar WEC face was Louise Beckett, Long time pit reporter and a TV feature presenter, Lou in attendance with the regular WEC cameraman compiling feature content for the forthcoming WEC season.

Taylor on Van Der Zande

Wayne Taylor was delighted with the pole setting success of new signing Renger van der Zande.

“Jordan told me how good Renger was and of course I believed him but truly we didn’t think pole would be possible. It’s great to know this early in with a new look team that one of the newest parts of the set up has been such a good fit and is performing so well. Of course I’m delighted.”

Historics grace the IMSA paddock

The outer paddock is playing host once again to a collection a significant historic racecars arranged as always by the ever well-connected Tim Pendergast. Amongst the featured cars for 2018 are a magnificent trio of Lancia sports cars, all three ex-factory cars with the iconic Martini livery, the trio attracting a huge amount of attention from the always knowledgeable US crowd.

The infield has a new look for 2018 with significant new paving accommodating a much expanded collection of manufacturer displays and attractions. A dozen or so displays featuring current road car and historic displays all of which have proved hugely popular throughout the meeting.

Stevenson, Newman and Gurney remembered

All three Acura NSX GT3s, both Michael Shank Racing cars and the debuting HART effort feature tributes to Stevenson Motorsports owner Johnny Stevenson who passed away late last year.

Many competing cars and drivers also feature the Andy Blackmore designed vinyls commemorating the very recent passing of Dan Gurney, who amongst a huge number of achievements won the very first major sports car endurance race at Daytona International Speedway back in 1962.

Run over three hours, his Lotus 19B expiring in the closing stage whilst he was winning by a significant distance, Gurney stopping the car just before the line and waiting for the clock to run down whereupon he allowed the Lotus to coast down the banking and across the finish line, a smart way to win from a true genius (the picture below hangs in the DIS press room.)

There will be a tribute to Dan Gurney on track before the start of the race with a significant racecar from his past making demonstration runs.

On the day that would’ve marked the 93rd birthday of Paul Newman, fellow Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender scored his very first Ferrari Challenge class win.

More on Mazda’s troubles

Following on from the dramas that prevented the #77 Mazda from taking part in qualifying yesterday the teams spent much of the day today performing a similar engine switch the sister #55 car after similar Data traces were seen on the engine installed in the car that told a similar tale to those from the #77.

Mazda’s John Doonan confirmed to DSC that neither replacement engine was afflicted with the same issue, “We know what the issue was and it’s been dealt with,” the team now hoping to see improvements in reliability commensurate with a significance improvement in pace seen thus far with the heavily revised RT24–P.

Ganassi named Grand Marshall

Chip Ganassi has been named Grand Marshall for the 2018 Rolex 24 Hours.

“It’s means a lot because it’s a great list of people, when you look back at the other Grand Marshalls over the years,” he said. “I can also lift people’s credentials that I don’t like!

“I’m thinking of saying everyone with Ford’s start your engines, and everyone else wait 10 minutes!”

Ricky Taylor dealing with the flu

Penske Team Acura driver Ricky Taylor has unfortunately been dealing with flu symptoms during race week here at Daytona. This has, understandably, severely affected his pre-race preparations, the 2017 Rolex winner only completing an out-lap and in-lap in the final practice yesterday to ensure he would be eligible to compete in the race.

How to follow

You can follow the full Rolex 24 Hours (beginning at 14:40 local time today), with commentary from the IMSA Radio team, on IMSA TV.