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2021 IMSA/ Rolex 24 Entry List Unpicked: Part 5, GTD

By Ryan Kish

The largest class in the Rolex 24 field and for the IMSA season, 20 cars were named for the entry before the withdrawal of the #540 Porsche (see below).

The remaining 19 though are dripping with quality with eight GT3 marques represented and with some very significant talents, both established and emerging, featuring throughout the field.

As always the GTD class is worth keeping a close eye on, there will be wheel to wheel racing, there will be incident, and there will be complaining on TV about Balance of Performance!

Part 1 DPiPart 2 GTLM | Part 3 LMP2 | Part 4 LMP3

The #1 (#48) Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Madison Snow, Bryan Sellers, Corey Lewis (Endurance), Andrea Caldarelli (Rolex 24).

Last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona winners and Michelin Endurance Cup Champions, Paul Miller Racing are back with their Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and it’s a familiar slate of drivers. The team will use car #1 for the Rolex 24 and will return to using car #48 for the rest of the season with Madison Snow and Bryan Sellers.

Snow is an accomplished GT3 driver, the winner of the 2020 Rolex 24 and the 2018 Sebring 12 hours. He also won the 2018 IMSA GTD championship with Paul Miller Racing. His sportscar racing career dates back to 2011 when he won the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge.

This will be the sixth season for Sellers and Paul Miller Racing as a unit. The American joined the team in 2015 and was a part of their 2018 championship run and 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona win.

In 2018, Lewis was named as an official Lamborghini Development Driver and he has a long history with Lamborghini. In addition to his role as Paul Miller Racing’s endurance driver, he has raced in Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America, where he won the championship in 2018 and 2019. Lewis is well-worthy of a full-time ride but has not quite been able to find a way to seal a deal somewhere. He is a talented racer and an ideal endurance driver.

Rounding out this entry is Italian and Lamborghini factory driver Andrea Caldarelli. This will be his fourth time at the Rolex 24 and the fourth time with Paul Miller Racing. His return means that this year’s lineup is identical to the one that took the win last year, leaving them in a strong position to defend their crown, or in this case, watches.

#9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R Zacharie Robichon, Laurens Vanthoor, Lars Kern (Endurance), Matt Campbell (Rolex 24)

This is a strong lineup for Pfaff Motorsports who return to IMSA competition after running into difficulties with COVID-19-related travel restrictions. The team is based in Canada and their plaid livery quickly became a fan-favourite. This is a full-season entry for Robichon and Vanthoor.

Robichon is back with Pfaff again. He finished third in the 2019 GTD championship with the team after rising his way through the Porsche Cup ranks, including the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge Canada where he won the championship in 2018. He is a talented driver and one of the top Silver-rated drivers out there.

Finding a new full-time home after the Porsche factory programme ended is Vanthoor. The Porsche-ace needs little introduction. He won the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2019 IMSA GTLM Championship with Porsche. He also has experience with Porsche GT3 machinery after racing in the IGTC, Bathurst 12 Hours, and the Spa 24 Hours.

Porsche uses Lars Kern as their test driver and he has driven everything from their race cars, to their SUVs. In 2020, he set a new Nürburgring lap record for production cars in a Porsche Panamera. He raced with Pfaff last season at the Rolex 24 and Petit Le Mans.

Making his third Rolex 24 start will be Matt Campbell. Campbell quickly rose through the Porsche ranks and became a Porsche Young Professional Driver in 2018 before being promoted to full factory-driver status shortly after. He has won the Le Mans 24 Hours, scored a podium at the Bathurst 12 Hours, and finished third in the 2017 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Championship. He is an extremely talented driver who could well be in line for a seat in Porsche’s LMDh if trends continue.

#12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC-F GT3 Frankie Montecalvo, Zach Veach, Robert Megennis, Townsend Bell

The partnership between AIM and Vasser Sullivan to run two Lexus RC-F Gt3 cars has ended with the cars now under just the name Vasser Sullivan. There are some new faces in the team’s driver lineup, but much of the lineup remains the same this season.

Montecalvo is back for his third season with the Lexus RC-F GT3 and his sixth Rolex 24 at Daytona. His best finish at the race is a second-place result in 2019. Montecalvo and teammate Townsend Bell struggled to find the same success that their teammates found last year. The duo won at Road America and added another podium for a disappointing thirteenth-place finish in the GTD points standings.

Former NTT IndyCar Series driver Zach Veach joins this lineup as a full-time driver. Veach spent three seasons with Andretti Autosport before being dropped partway through the 2020 season. In his 47 races in IndyCar, Veach managed just three top-five results, no podiums, and no wins. He’ll be looking to rebound in the world of sportscar racing.

Currently climbing the North American open-wheel ladder is Robert Megennis. The 20-year-old American raced with Andretti Autosport in Indy Lights in 2019, finishing fifth in the championship with one win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. He was set for another season in Indy Lights with Andretti, but the season was cancelled due to COVID-19. In 2020, he raced with RLR MSport in LMP3 for two races of the European Le Mans Series.

45-years-old Bell drops from his role as a full-time driver to a Rolex 24 spot. The NBC Sports racing analyst won the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours in GTE Am and has two additional Le Mans podiums. He has raced in the Indy 500 ten times and his best finish is fourth in 2009.

#14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC-F GT3 Aaron Telitz, Jack Hawksworth, Oliver Gavin, Kyle Kirkwood (Rolex 24)

With Meyer Shank Racing moving to DPi, Vasser Sullivan looks poised to be the championship favourites. They are one of the best-run operations in GTD and their two-car programme is back for another year with a slate of similar drivers.

After climbing the American open-wheel ladder but falling short of the NTT IndyCar Series, Telitz switched to sportscar racing in 2019. He won the 106 Pro Mazda championship but struggled to find similar success in three seasons in Indy Lights. He spent 2019 as an endurance driver for Lexus before moving into a full-time role in 2020. He scored three wins and two podiums last season.

Hawksworth spent three seasons in IndyCar before moving to sportscar racing full time in 2017. His IndyCar career was uninspiring with just one podium in three seasons of racing. His time in sportscar racing has been better, though, with a three-win season in 2020 that left him fourth in the competitive GTD class. He has been a part of the Lexus GTD operation since the early days when the programme was run by 3GT Racing. This will be his seventh Rolex 24, his best finish is fourth in 2015 in an RSR Racing ORECA FLM09.

Gavin is back in racing after stepping away from Corvette Racing at the end of last season. Gavin is simply a legend of the sport. A five-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner, a Rolex 24 at Daytona winner, an IMSA GTLM champion, and a six-time Sebring 12 Hours winner, Gavin is simply one of the greatest drivers in sportscar racing history. In 201 races with Corvette, Gavin won 51 of them.

2019 Indy Pro Champion and additional Pro ar Petit Le Mans and Sebring last season for the AVS Lexus team, Kyle Kirkwood is again drafted in for the Rolex 24 in what could prove to be a very convincing quartet!

#16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R Ryan Hardwick, Patrick Long, Jan Heylen (Endurance), Klaus Bachler (Rolex 24) update – Trent Hindman replaces Ryan Hardwick

Wright Motorsports is back with a largely unchanged programme for 2021. After an incredible 2020 season that saw them fall just short of the title, Wright Motorsports will look to again factor into the championship conversation.

Hardwick, the Bronze-rated driver in this car, proved to be one of the quickest amateur drivers in the series last season. With three podiums and a win at the Sebring 12 Hours, Hardwick will be looking to build on his first season with Wright Motorsports this year.

A great presence for Hardwick is Patrick Long. As the only American Porsche factory driver, there is no one in North America who knows Porsches better than Long. Since 2004, Long has raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours every year except for 2020 and he has won the race two times. This will be his eighteenth Rolex 24 at Daytona – all of them in Porsches.

Back again as the team’s endurance driver is Heylen. The 40-year-old Belgian proved to the paddock that he still has some pace left in him, scoring a pole position at the Sebring 12 Hours – his first in IMSA. He’s a steady and experienced and a perfect endurance driver for the squad.

Rounding out the lineup is Bachler, who raced with the team last year at the Rolex 24. He ran a full season of ADAC GT Masters and scored two podiums in the 2020 season. He has also ran in the occasional GT World Challenge Europe Endurance race and Nürburgring 24 Hours.

UPDATE – After Ryan Hardwick crashed heavily in practice for he Michelin Pilot Challenge he has stepped down for the Rolex 24 replsced by reigning GT World Challenge America Silver Cup Chammpion and 2019 IMSA GTD Drivers Champion Trent Hindman.

#19 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo – Misha Goikhberg, Franck Perera, Albert Costa, Tim Zimmermann

Grasser Racing Team is one of the top Lamborghini operations in motorsport. They have experience running Lamborghinis in the Blancpain GT Series (now GT World Challenge) where they won the driver’s and team’s championship in 2017. They ran the Magnus Racing operation last season in IMSA. They won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2018 and 2019 in the GTD class.

Russo/Canadian Gentleman racer Goikhberg has IMSA wins in LMPC and LMP2 machinery and comes into the Rolex 24 off the back of his first season in GTD (aboard an MSR Acura).

Perera was part of GRT’s Rolex 24 winning GTD squad in 2018 and, as part of Lamborghini’s factory roster is a regular addition to priority programmes in national and continental series.  He’ll be quick here again.

The #19 includes a second Lamborghini factory driver in Albert Costa, the Spanish 2019 International GT Open has his second consecutive Rolex 24 start this year with GRT.

24 year old Tim Zimmermann completes the squad, he continues his relationship with GRT after a full season in ADAC GT Masters with the team in 2020.

#21 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Matteo Cressoni, Simon Mann, Daniel Serra, Nicklas Nielsen

This Rolex 24-only entry from AF Corse features the Pro-Am champions of the Italian GT Sprint Championship. AF Corse is a highly experienced outfit who have run the Ferrari factory team in the FIA WEC and have plenty of experience running customer operations at races like the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Cressoni raced at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2020 with Iron Lynx but his latest success has come in the Italian GT Championship, winning the GT3 Pro-Am title with Simon Mann. The pair had one podium in eight races but took the title as there was only two other serious, full-season, contenders of the championship. That programme was also run by AF Corse.

Mann’s statistical record is spotty, and little is known of him. The records that are available seem to suggest that this will be his first race outside of the Italian GT Championship.

On the flip side, there’s Daniel Serra whose record as a racing driver is far from spotty. This will be the eighth Rolex 24 at Daytona for the two-time Le Mans winner and Brazilian Stock Car racer. He is the strongest and most proven driver in this entry.

Nielsen was promoted to his role as an official Ferrari factory driver in January of 2020. Nielsen won the 2019-20 FIA WEC GTE Am Drivers championship with two wins and three podiums, including a third-place finish at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Nielsen is a lot like Matt Campbell. Both men found success in single-make series and caught the eye of their respective manufacturers. Nielsen emerged from Ferrari Challenge Europe and won the 2018 Ferrari Challenge World Final. He also won the 2018 ELMS GTE championship with four wins in six races.

#23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Roman De Angelis, Ian James, Ross Gunn, Darren Turner

Heart of Racing made some inroads last season, ending the year on a high with a second-place finish at the Sebring 12 Hours. The race team is funded by video game developer Gabe Newell (whose company Valve created legendary series’ like Counter-Strike and Portal) and Yahn Bernier. The goal is to use the racing team, Heart of Racing, to raise money for Team Seattle, a charity created by the Seattle Children’s Hospital. That’s why you’ll see a racetrack in the shape of a heart on the car. This is a full-season programme for De Angelis and James.

Roman De Angelis burst onto the scene in 2019 when he dominated the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series, winning eleven out of sixteen races and taking the title. He moved up to the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship in 2020 with Heart of Racing and finished the season fifteenth in the GTD standings after having to miss the second Daytona and first Sebring rounds of the season.

In addition to his role as a driver, James also serves as the team principal of this operation. James raced alongside De Angelis for the 2020 season.

They will be joined by Gunn and Turner, both of whom are Aston Martin factory drivers. Gunn, a 24-year-old from the United Kingdom raced in the WEC in a GTE Am Aston Martin and for the first five races of the 2019-20 season, he shared a car with Turner. With Gunn’s talent and Turner’s experience, they could easily make this team a factor for the race win.

#28 Alegra Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 Daniel Morad, Michael De Quesada, Billy Johnson, Maxi Buhk

Two-time winners of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Alegra Motorsports announced their intentions to return to IMSA competition last year. They had previously used a Porsche 911 GT3 R but have made the switch to a Mercedes-AMG GT3. This is a full-season entry for Morad and De Quesada. The team has expressed an interest in running a second car later in the season.

Morad and De Quesada both raced with the team in 2017 when they last won the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Morad, who has taken to iRacing streaming, returns to IMSA competition after running just two races last year: the Rolex 24 and the first Road Atlanta round where he filled in for Aaron Telitz in the AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus.

For De Quesda, he also has Lexus experience having raced at Daytona, Road Atlanta (not Petit Le Mans), and Sebring with AIM Vasser Sullivan. The 21-year-old American is still trying to find his footing in racing after bouncing from one-off entries, to partial seasons, to endurance-only campaigns. A full-season campaign here will give him a real opportunity to showcase his talent.

Ex-Ford factory driver Billy Johnson joins this lineup for the Rolex 24. The team has not said whether he will be with them for the other endurance rounds, however. Johnson was the third driver in the #66 Ford GT that ran with Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla in the World Endurance Championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours. In his time with the Ford GT programme he won one race, the 2018 Six Hours of Spa.

Rounding out this lineup is Maxi Buhk, a Mercedes-AMG factory driver. He has a long record of racing with Mercedes-AMG GT3s and he has experience in GT World Challenge Europe, the Intercontinental GT Challenge series, the ADAC GT Masters, and virtually every major GT3 race in the world. There are no questions about what Buhk brings to the table – he’ll be quick.

#42 NTE Sport Audi R8 LMS GT3 – Alan Metni, Andrew Davis, JR Hildebrand, Don Yount

NTE Sport was the surprise package of the GTD entry, the 2020 part season Pilot Challenge squad kept their powder very dry until the wraps were taken off this effort.

The big name here is J R Hildebrand, the 2009 Indy 500 runner-up and long-time IndyCar regular makes his Rolex 24 Hours debut in the #42 Audi.

He raced in the American Le Mans Series with Genoa Racing, competing in the 12 Hours of Sebring and Long Beach Grand Prix, earning podium finishes in both races. Most recently, Hildebrand finished second in class in the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, racing a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport.

After three years of competition in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, Alan Metni will be making his IMSA WeatherTech debut in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Metni earned six podiums and one win in his 16 races last season, finishing fourth in the overall championship standings. He also has class wins at the Creventic 24 Hours of COTA in 2017 and 2018.

Andrew Davis has a long and varied racing career cv.  In the 2020 season alone, despite the challenges, he managed to compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD class, Pirelli GT4 America SprintX championship, and the Michelin Pilot Challenge, a triple duty season he is all to familiar with. Davis will be the only driver on the team having raced previously in the Audi, running both the Team Hardpoint and Moorespeed machines in the 2020 season.

Don Yount first raced in IMSA in 2014, finishing sixth overall in the Prototype Lites series. Since his debut, Yount has competed in IMSA’s Prototype Challenge, Michelin Pilot Challenge, and the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Most recently, he earned a podium in the LMP2 class in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

#44 Magnus/Archangel Acura NSX GT3 John Potter, Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly (Endurance), Mario Farnbacher (Rolex 24)

Magnus Racing has partnered with Archangel, who recently competed in the Michelin Pilot Challenge, for this programme with an Acura NSX GT3. Magnus had previously partnered with GRT to run a Lamborghini Huracan. The car and partner team are the only difference as John Potter and Andy Lally return for another year together.

Potter is the founder of Magnus Racing, he finished second in 2019 Rolex 24. Potter famously runs his team with lots of fun in mind. In 2018, after the WEC announced a calendar adjustment that was, all but officially, in response to a schedule conflict for Fernando Alonso, he had Magnus Racing put out a faux press release in which he criticized IMSA’s unwillingness to move their schedule around for his wife’s delivery date.

A veteran of North American racing, Lally is back for another season with Magnus Racing. His name has become synonymous with the team, having joined the team in 2012. In the first race of their partnership, he won the 50th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Starting his 20th Rolex 24 at Daytona will be Spencer Pumpelly. He drove in last year’s race with Magnus Racing and finished second. He also scored a podium at Petit Le Mans last year. He will be with the team for the four endurance rounds of the 2021 season.

When the list of drivers for this year’s race started coming together, it appeared that Mario Farnbacher could be left without a drive, an astounding fact considering he won his second GTD championship last year and is one of the top GT3 drivers in North America. He has experience in the Acura NSX, it was the car he drove to two wins and four podiums last year with Meyer Shank Racing.

#57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Russell Ward, Indy Dontje, Maro Engel, Philip Ellis

This will be the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship debut for Winward Racing who step up from the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. This is a Rolex 24-only entry, but the team does have a full-season Weathertech entry set as their goal for 2022. HTP, the German-based Mercedes-AMG team is supporting this effort.

Ward has raced with Winward Racing for a number of years. In 2017, Russell race in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge. A year later he graduated into a Mercedes-AMG GT4 car full-time, competing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. In 2017, Russell brought home a third-place finish in his rookie start at Daytona. He is the son of Bryce Ward, who also races with Winward Racing.

Ward’s teammate in the Michelin Pilot Challenge, Indy Dontje also moves up to this Rolex 24 lineup. After starting his career in his native Netherlands, he moved over to North American racing in 2018. He has experience in the Nürburgring 24 Hours and in GT World Challenge Europe Endurance races like the Spa 24. For the past four years, he has raced in the ADAC GT Masters with a Mercedes-AMG GT3 so he will be well-accustomed to the car.

Another person who will be well-accustomed to the car is Maro Engel, the Mercedes-AMG factory driver is a strong addition to this lineup. Engel’s primary focus has been GT World Challenge Europe where he finished the 2020 season in sixth. Engel won the 2015 FIA GT World Cup at Macau and has raced in Formula E.

The final driver in the lineup is also from within the Winward Racing stable, Philip Ellis. Ellis has driven the second Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 in Michelin Pilot Challenge and he gets the call up to this new task of racing in the Rolex 24. His first racing experience came when he was 15 when he started sim racing.

#63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 Ryan Briscoe, Brett Curtis, Ed Jones, Marcos Gomes

After working with Weathertech Racing for the past number of seasons, Scuderia Corsa are now embarking on a new venture on their own. This programme seems to be for the Rolex 24 only, though, Briscoe has hinted on social media that more races could be in the team’s future.

In terms of IMSA experience, Briscoe is the most qualified driver in this lineup. After a number of seasons with the Ford GT programme, Briscoe spent one season with Wayne Taylor Racing in DPi. He is a three-time winner of the Rolex 24 and has one win at Petit Le Mans. This will be his fourteenth Rolex 24.

Curtis has a wide array of experience in sportscar racing. He has raced in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the European Le Mans Series, and at the Le Mans 24 Hours. In 2017, he partook in his second Le Mans 24 and his first with Scuderia Corsa. The 54-year-old American has made a living in the steel marketplace, with businesses focused on steel manufacturing and steel trading.

Former NTT IndyCar driver and the man who represented Scuderia Corsa in their 2019 Indy 500 run, Ed Jones also joins this lineup. Jones spent three seasons in the NTT IndyCar Series with Dale Coyne Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, and Ed Carpenter Racing. He did not return to the series in 2020, instead signing on with Audi in the DTM. Jones would not race in the DTM due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions in his native United Arab Emirates.

Marcos Gomes joins the team for another attempt to win the Rolex 24. Gomes previously competed in the Rolex 24 in 2014 and 2015 with a Scuderia Corsa supported Via Italian Racing Ferrari and ran with Via Italian Racing again in 2019. He earned pole position in that 2019 run.

#64 TGM-Wright Porsche 911 GT3 R Ted Giovanis, Hugh Plumb, Matt Plumb, Owen Trinkler

Team TGM steps up from the Michelin Pilot Challenge for this Rolex 24-only entry. All four drivers in the car will be doing double-duty between the IMSA Weathertech Series and the Michelin Pilot Challenge. An astounding plan considering this isn’t necessarily the youngest team on the grid. Team TGM owner Ted Giovanis for example is 75-years old. Owen Trinkler, the youngest of the group, is 44-years old.

Making his Rolex 24 at Daytona debut will be Giovanis. The founder of the team, he has nearly three decades of motor racing experience to his name. Giovanis cut his 2020 racing season short to shift his attention to the Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis (JKTG) Foundation, a private foundation dedicated to healthcare research. Giovanis and the foundation recently focused on COVID-19 vaccine research.

Hugh Plumb brings over two decades of motorsports experience to this team. He has raced in almost all iterations of the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship, dating back to the GRAND-AM and American Le Mans Series days. He has also raced in GT World Challenge America. In 2014, he won the IMSA Continental Tyre Sportscar Challenge (now MPC) championship.

The brother of Hugh Plumb, Matt Plumb, is also in the lineup. In addition to his racing experience – which tops twenty-years – he has worked in executive positions at Ferrari of North America and the Skip Barber Racing School, among others.

The record-holder for most career starts in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge is Owen Trinkler. Trinkler has won 13 MPC races in his career and won the IMSA Continental Tyre Sportscar Challenge (now MPC) championship in 2018.

#75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Kenny Habul, Mikael Grenier, Rafaelle Marceillo, Luca Stolz

SunEnergy1 Racing founded by Kenny Habul and named after his own company SunEnergy, returns to IMSA competition. Their first showing since 2018. This is a Rolex 24-only entry.

The winner of the Bronze Driver’s Championship in the 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge Series, Habul is an experience Bronze-rated driver. In that 2018 he raced with Luca Stolz and scored a podium at the Spa 24 Hours. This will be his fourth Rolex 24 at Daytona start.

Grenier has experience racing in GT World Challenge Europe with Emil Frey Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3. He finished second in the 2019 International GT Open series.

Mercedes sends two factory drivers to complete this lineup: Marceillo and Stolz. The two of them are some of the more experienced and talented drivers that Mercedes-AMG have in their stable. Both of them have experience in the ADAC GT Masters, GT World Challenge Europe, and other major GT3 series and events.

#88 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R Rob Ferriol, Earl Bamber, Katherine Legge, Christina Nielsen

Team Hardpoint and Earl Bamber Motorsports have partnered together for this operation. After a disappointing season with the Audi R8 LMS GT3, Hardpoint and team owner Rob Ferriol will be hoping for more success with their Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Team Hardpoint EBM will use their Porsche Carrera Cup North America programme as a feeder series of sorts. If one of their drivers wins the Pro category of the 2021 Carrera Cup North America, they will earn a seat in the team’s GTD entry at the 2022 Rolex 24 At Daytona. This is a full-season for Ferriol and Bamber.

Ferriol is the team owner of Hardpoint Racing. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps and is the president of AEVEX, a company that specializes in aerospace and defence products. In 2019, he raced in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA and finished the season in second with two wins and an additional eleven podiums.

Bamber is another refugee from the Porsche GTLM factory effort. He was the first of the drivers, with the help of his own team, to land a ride for the 2021 season. Bamber immediately makes this team a championship contender. Bamber has won the Le Mans 24 Hours on two occasions in the Porsche 919 Hybrid and won the 2019 IMSA GTLM championship.

Katherine Legge makes her racing comeback after missing much of the 2020 season to injury following a crash in an LMP2 car at Paul Ricard.

She has four career IMSA wins and finished second in the 2018 GTD Championship standings taking second in GTD at the Rolex 24 in the same season.

Christina Nielsen became the first woman to win a major North American sports car championship when she shared the WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona (GTD) title with Alessandro Balzan in 2016, and the duo repeated the feat a year later. The 28-year-old from Denmark is a four-time WeatherTech Championship race winner, with her last victory behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 R in 2018 at Road America.

The female pairing seem too to be targeting further appearances in the IMSA Championship – could a second Hardpoint Porsche be inbound?

#96 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 Robby Foley, Bill Auberlen, Aidan Read (Endurance), Colton Herta (Rolex 24)

Turner Motorsports is one of the most iconic North American racing teams and their name is synonymous with BMWs. This year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona will be the team’s 400th race with BMW. This is a full-season programme for Foley and Auberlen.

Robby Foley returns to Turner Motorsports in his role as a season-long driver. He joined Turner Motorsport in 2018 and has found success in the GTD class. He finished second in 2019 GTD driver points with Auberlen, winning his first and second career IMSA races.

Auberlen holds the record for the greatest number of wins in IMSA competition at 62. He is one of the greatest sportscar drivers in North American history and he has shown no sign of slowing down. His stint last season in the rain at the Charlotte ROVAL was likely one of the best drives of the season and the veteran will be looking for his third Rolex 24 win this year. This will be his 31stRolex 24 at Daytona start, his first coming in 1987.

Aidan Read will join the team for the four endurance races. The Rolex 24 At Daytona will be the first race in North America for the 21-year-old Australian-American. He has experience in the BMW M6 GT3 already, though, from racing in the ADAC GT Masters Championship. He finished runner up in the junior category in 2019.

Lastly, there is Colton Herta, the young American who set a record as the youngest winner of a race in the NTT IndyCar Series. Herta had raced with the factory-backed Team RLL BMW in 2019 and 2020 but this year he finds a spot in the Turner Motorsports stable. He won the Rolex 24 in his first attempt in 2019.

#97 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Ben Keating, Richard Westbrook, Maxwell Root, Charlie Eastwood

The winners of the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours in GTE Am, TF Sport will make their IMSA debut with this Rolex 24-only entry. TF Sport is a talented team and a well-run operation. They have plenty of experience with Aston Martin GT cars and will likely be a factor in this race, especially considering their lineup.

Starting with Ben Keating who…. Wait didn’t we already talk about him? Yes, we did. For the second year in a row, Keating will enter in two cars in two different classes. He managed it last year with a little bit of help from his teams. All of his stint time in one car was pushed to the first half of the race and his stint time in the other car was pushed to the back half of the race. That would allow him to get settled into one, rather than going back-and-forth. We could see a similar strategy this year as well.

Aston Martin factory driver Richard Westbrook is back for his seventh Rolex 24 at Daytona. He won the race in 2018 in a Ford GT. He is a three-time Le Mans podium finisher and one of the more talented GT drivers, illustrated by the fact that Aston Martin picked him up shortly after the Ford GT programme ended.

The 21-year-old Maxwell Root’s career has been on the rise lately. He, like many others, has climbed his way through the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA. He finished second in that championship in 2019 and won three races. He was beaten by Roman De Angelis that season. He finished sixth at the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours with JMW Motorsport in a Ferrari 488 GTE.

Finally, there’s Eastwood who was a part of TF Sport’s Le Mans lineup when they took home the win. Eastwood, another Aston Martin factory driver is the most familiar with TF Sport having raced with them in the FIA WEC since 2018.

#111 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo Rolf Ineichen, Mirko Bortolotti, Steijn Schothorst, Marco Mapelli

The #111 is the second car from the double Rolex 24 Hours-winning GRT squad Lamborghini squad and again it features a top-notch driving line-up.

Mirko Bortolotti returned to Lamborghini’s factory roster this year after a single year with Audi.  He formed part of GRT’s winning Rolex 24 squad in 2018 and 2019 and was on the podium in a WRT Audi last year.

Rolf Ineichen shared the 2018 and 2019 GTD wins with Bortolotti and the third place last year too, 2021 will be his eighth consecutive Rolex 24 Hours start.

Marco Mapelli is the second Lamborghini factory driver in the #111, the 2019 Blancpain GT Endurance Cup Champion will start his third Rolex 24 Hours this year.

Steijn Schothorst will start his second Rolex 24, the rapid, Silver ranked Dutchman rounds out what must be considered to be one of the top prospects for the class win.

The #540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R Tim Pappas, Larry ten Voorde, Patrick Pilet, Patrick Lindsey (CAR WITHDRAWN)

Sadly the #540 was withdrawn in the days before the Roar test after both Tim Pappas and Larry ten Voorde tested positive for COVID-19.