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Roar Before The 24: Thursday GTD Notebook

New drivers, new cars, new colours

Whilst there has been plenty of movement in the IMSA entry in the close season it’s been the GTD class where most of the surprises have come.

Here’ a catch-up of the recent headlines, and the news emerging from the opening day at Daytona:

AIM Vasser Sullivan

The AIM with Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 team has confirmed their driver squads for the season Jeff Segal and IndyCar hopeful Aaron Telitz will join the #12 Lexus crew, helmed by Townsend Bell and Frankie Montecalvo for the 11-round season, with Telitz signing for the four Michelin Endurance Cup races and Segal for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Telitz will add sports car racing to an impressive junior open-wheel career that included the 2016 Pro Mazda championship on the Mazda Road To Indy, and multiple wins in Indy Lights.

In Segal, Bell and Montecalvo have a familiar teammate to rely upon whose success in GT racing should make the No. 12 entry one of the stronger efforts in IMSA’s GT Daytona category at the Rolex 24.

The #14 Lexus RC F GT3 piloted by Jack Hawksworth and Richard Heistand will have rapid Kiwi Nick Cassidy and returning Lexus driver Austin Cindric, who competed with the former 3GT Lexus program in 2018, in the car for the Rolex 24. AVS has yet to name a specific driver for the three remaining endurance rounds with the #14.

Cassidy has built an impressive résumé in Japan, winning championships in Formula 3 and Super GT where he races a Lexus LC500. Cindric, one of the most accomplished young drivers in North America, has raced in everything from USF2000 to LMP2 to Global Rallycross, and will embark on his first full-time campaign in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series after the Rolex 24.

Paul Miller Racing

The defending GTD Champions have unveiled a new livery for their #48 Lamborghini Huracan Evo for the 2019 season at Daytona after confirming that Andrea Caldarelli will return to the team for his third consecutive Rolex 24 At Daytona.

The Lamborghini factory driver joins 2018 driver champion Bryan Sellers, new full season addition Ryan Hardwick, and Michelin Endurance Cup entrant Corey Lewis.

“We thank Lamborghini for letting us have Andrea back,” said team owner Paul Miller. “He knows our team and we’ve developed great confidence in each other! It’s a pairing that works well and we are delighted to have Andrea back for another attempt at going after a top finish at Daytona!”

“This will be my third Rolex 24 At Daytona, and the expectation is high” said Caldarelli. “Alongside Paul Miller Racing, we build-up a winning package, and after last year’s podium, the intention is to continue on a high note. It will not be easy, but I’m more than happy to make my return in this team, and driving a Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO will be a more than strong motivation for me to do my best for myself, the team, and Lamborghini Squadra Corse.”

Park Place Add Campbell

Park Place Motorsports have added Porsche Young Professional and 2018 Le Mans class winner Matt Campbell to its Rolex 24 At Daytona lineup that includes Patrick Lindsey, Patrick Long and Nick Boulle in the #73 Porsche GT3 R.

Campbell, Australia, became part of the Porsche Factory Driver lineup in 2017 as a Porsche Junior. In his debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Campbell took home Porsche’s 107th class win with Dempsey Proton Racing in the GTE-Am category.

Team Principal Patrick Lindsey: “He’s so young but has already seen so much success,” Lindsey said. “It is honestly impressive. I can’t wait to sit back and watch him work. I’ll actually root for him this time, at Le Mans I ran against him so I couldn’t be too impressed. I know I have more experience at Daytona but I’m wanting a little Campbell sheen to rub off on me. He’s really talented and successful, I’d love to have his resume. I really hope for the best so we can add to that resume and he can go home with a Rolex.”

The Roar Before the Rolex 24 is Campbell’s first trip to the United States, making Daytona his first foray into North American racing.

“I’m very much looking forward to my first trip to the United States,” Campbell said. “I’ve driven on banking before but certainly not to the extent of the Daytona banking, so I’m sure it will be quite the eye-opener for the first time.

“To get my first Daytona under my belt is certainly invaluable, I think in endurance racing no matter of your results in the past, each 24-hour race is a new challenge. But I feel like I’ve gained great experience in the last year with endurance racing and my approach going into such races. I’m excited to work with the team. I come in with an open mind having enjoyed working with Longy in previous years.”