AERO-equipped teams took 2016 IMSA and World Challenge championships, ready to fight for more in 2017
(Images courtesy Scuderia Corsa & BMW Motorsport/Sam Cobb/)
Daytona Beach, Fla. (25 January 2017) - The 2017 racing season kicks off in earnest this weekend as the Daytona International Speedway plays host to the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The weekend marks the 55th running of the prestigious event and is the first race of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
The event is slated to maintain the tradition of attracting world-class talent from all corners of the globe as the racing world awakes from its off-season slumber to pursue one of racing’s most elusive trophies, the Rolex Daytona Chronograph that is awarded to the winners.
Every advantage is deployed to earn that honor, and there will once again be several teams using AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology to find an edge. AERO has found a fond and growing customer base in motorsports, providing a strong, light, aerodynamic, and beautiful outer layer for race cars. The technology is also continuing development to utilize the added advantages that AERO provides, including embedded communications capabilities despite the ultra-low weight that the materials create.
With championships in IMSA and World Challenge as well as victories in Verizon IndyCar competition, AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology had an outstanding 2016 season and will look to get a strong start again in 2017 starting this weekend.
Likely leading that AERO charge will be the BMW Team RLL squad, which will look to return to the Daytona podium. After a 2016 IMSA season that saw the team show speed and promise but left wanting for big results, RLL Racing will look to take the lessons learned and convert them into a big start to the IMSA WeatherTech championship season this weekend.
The squad competes in the ultra-competitive GTLM (“GT Le Mans”) class, which features the titans of motorsport as the factories put their best and brightest up against the rest of the world. The GTLM field of factory Ferraris, Porsches Ford GTs, and Corvettes are a core attraction for the IMSA fans.
“There’s nothing like starting out the season with the most difficult race. In the recent past we have had some reasonable results with second place finishes in both 2014 and 2015,” said team owner Bobby Rahal. “For us, it’s just a matter of not having any problems. It sounds simplistic, but the least amount of time we spend in the pits the better chance we have of a podium.”
While the GTLM Class is where the factories fight, the GTD class and its 27-strong entry list will likely feature its own slug-fest this weekend.
The 2016 IMSA GTD Class champions Scuderia Corsa will return with Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen once again sharing the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3, which features an AERO™ film-based paint treatment befitting a Ferrari. The duo will be joined for the Rolex 24 by Sam Bird and Matteo Cressoni.
"This will be my fourth 24 Hours of Daytona, all of them with Scuderia Corsa," said Balzan. "It will be my first Daytona with the Ferrari 488 GT3. We had the chance to work on the car during the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona. The car was fast, and as always, our team did a great job. With thirty-three cars in the GT-Daytona class, the competition is going to be very strong. But we like the challenge, and we are more than ready!”
Making the biggest move in the off-season is long time AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology partners Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian, as the team that won the final race of the 2016 season with its Honda-Powered Ligier will return to IMSA with a two-car GTD class effort. Teaming with Acura Motorsports, the Columbus, Ohio-based team will make the endurance debut for the remarkable Acura NSX GT3 with two entries and a driver lineup that includes Rolex 24 champions Ozz Negri and Andy Lally, Le Mans 24 winner Jeff Segal, and IndyCar standouts Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal.
Before the 24 goes green on Saturday (FOX, 2:00 PM ET), the first race of the Daytona weekend will be the BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona on Friday. This year, the race features a new format, as the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge will stage the first of two of the seasons four-hour races on Friday. The Daytona event will not only feature a new format, but it will also include a robust field of competition as the IMSA adoption of GT4 specifications have fueled significant growth in the GT4 ranks for the 40-car field.
Returning as an AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology partner is C360R, which will continue with the Audi Sport S3 in ST but has traded in their Mustang for a pair of incredible new McLaren GT4 machines in GS class competition.
The No. 76 Alpha Clone TF / AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology / Pfaff McLaren / Race Day Foundation McLaren GT4 will be shared by American pilots Paul Holton and Matt Plumb, while the No. 77 AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology / Misahara Jewelry machine of Matthew Keegan and Nico Rondet will look to make a winning debut with the all-new machine.
The No. 75 APR LLC / AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology / Audi Genuine Parts / Pfaff Audi / Race Day Foundation Audi S3 will be shared by Roy Block and Pierre Kleinubing as C360R looks to convert lessons learned with the capable all-wheel drive machine into champagne to start the season.
The BMW Endurance Challenge season-opening Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race will stream live at www.imsa.com on Friday starting at 12:00 PM ET.
Rolex 24 at Daytona, FOX 2:00 PM ET, (Saturday-Sunday January 28-9)
AERO™ customer and partner teams, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship:
No. 19 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 (GTLM Class) “Art Car”
Bill Auberlen, Alexander Sims, Augusto Farfus, Bruno Spengler
No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 (GTLM Class)
John Edwards, Martin Tomczyk, Nicky Catsburg, Kumo Witmer
No. 86 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 (GTD Class)
Jeff Segal, Ozz Negri, Tom Dyer, Ryan Hunter-Reay
No. 93 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 (GTD Class)
Andy Lally, Katherine Legge, Mark Wilkins, Graham Rahal
No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 (GTD Class)
Christina Nielsen, Alessandro Balzan, Matteo Cressoni, Sam Bird
BMW Endurance Challenge, IMSA.com, 12: PM ET (Friday, January 27)
AERO™ customer and partner teams, IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge:
The No. 75 APR LLC / AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology / Audi Genuine Parts / Pfaff Audi / Race Day Foundation Audi S3
Roy Block and Pierre Kleinubing
The No. 76 Alpha Clone TF / AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology / Pfaff McLaren/Race Day Foundation McLaren GT4
Paul Holton and Matt Plumb
No. 77 AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology / Misahara Jewelry McLaren GT4
Matthew Keegan and Nico Rondet