DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (January 24, 2018) – Like the sound of a powerful engine sparking to life, the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will break the silence of the winter with what is expected to be one of the most competitive editions of the Rolex 24 At Daytona in history.
The Rolex 24 is the final act for an almost week-long event that continues to grow and now has three races leading up to the big show. The weekend will build momentum with two sprint races for the Ferrari Challenge runners as well as the four-hour enduro that will open the season for Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge on Friday and will feature the first-ever IMSA Touring Car Racing (TCR) class race.
No matter what race they are in, every racer at Daytona will be looking for any advantage they can find on the 3.56-mile track that combines an infield road course section, a high-speed bus stop chicane situated on the “Super Stretch,” and a run through the improbably steep banking that is Daytona’s trademark.
A growing number of teams in all three championships running this week have identified one beautiful way to save weight, increase strength, and improve their car through the wind— AERO Sustainable Paint Technology.
First developed for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, AERO Sustainable Paint Technology is an evolution on traditional paint and eliminates the need for sprayers, aerosols, expensive paint booths, and harmful volatile organic compounds. Yet it maintains the long-lasting vibrancy found in traditional paint, with added performance and durability in even the most hazardous conditions—like those that might be seen at Daytona.
A field of 50 cars will take to the World Center of Racing for the 56th running of the twice around the clock classic starting on Saturday (Live, FOX 2:00 PM ET). The Rolex 24 has a Prototype class field that is bursting with all-new DPi machines including new Penske Acuras, revised Joest Racing Mazdas, potent Nissans, and the defending champion Cadillac DPi-V.R machines. But that’s just the half of it, as nine LMP2-based entries will also do battle for the Prototype crown.
Even though he’s making his first start in the race, all eyes are on the Rolex rookie Fernando Alonso, who will anchor for the United Autosport squad as the UK-based team grows its global competitive presence with a debut run in the 24. The championship squad, which races in the Michelin Le Mans Cup as well as European Le Mans, has long had a partnership with AERO Sustainable Paint Technology and will once again be proudly carrying the AERO™ livery on the two Prototype class entries, which both boast stout driver line ups.
“We’re heading to Daytona aiming for a top-five race finish,” said Zak Brown, Team Owner and Chairman, United Autosports. “It’s a long and very hard race with a quality 50-car entry. Most teams have many years of Rolex and Daytona race experience to help them. We’ll need everything aligned to achieve that kind of result and while we’ve quickly achieved success in Europe, Richard (Dean) and I are under no illusion it’s going to be a very tough weekend. But that’s what all of us at United thrive on and we’re all very excited to be racing in the Rolex at the weekend.”
After putting a stamp on the end of the 2017 season with big results in their AERO™ liveried BMW M6 GTLM, Saturday will mark the much-anticipated debut of the BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE and will continue to deploy the advantages that AERO™ brings.
The BMW M8 GTE is the result of BMW’s latest thinking in GT car development and constructed to be eligible to compete at Le Mans – something BMW will do this year for the first time since 2011.
“The BMW M8 GTE is the only entirely new car in the GTLM field this year and we believe it has a great deal of potential,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal BMW Team RLL. “While we fought a number of new car gremlins at the Roar, I think everyone is generally quite happy. Compared with teams like Schnitzer who have been racing for BMW for multiple decades, we are the new guys, but the relationship is everything in motorsport. We are very proud to start our tenth year with BMW and especially proud to be the team that will debut the BMW M8 GTE.”
But to claim victory on debut, the BMWs will have to take the fight to Corvette Racing, which scored a powerful 1-2 result in the 2016 race. The thundering yellow machines have joined the roster of AERO Sustainable Paint Technology-equipped racers ahead of the 2018 IMSA season.
The Rolex field will also include the debut of the Scuderia Corsa line-up with a two-car effort that includes names like Townsend Bell, multiple-IMSA champion Alessandro Balzan, and factory stand-out Sam Bird.
Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (livestream via www.imsa.com Friday 1:00 PM ET) four-hour BMW Challenge will also see a bevy of AERO machines, with Compass Racing deploying three Audi RS3 LMS TCR entries for the first-ever TCR race hosted by IMSA. The team will also target a race win in the GS class with the incredible McLaren GT4, but will have to best fellow AERO Sustainable Paint Technology squad Carbahn Motorsports with their all-new Audi R8 GT4 entry.
It has been well accepted that the only way to improve how a Ferrari looks is to utilize AERO, and the two Ferrari Challenge sprint races attest to that as four drivers (No. 126 Robert Picerne, Ferrari of Central Florida, No. 142 Mark Fuller Scuderia Corsa-Ferrari Westlake, Karl Williams and Lisa Clark) will look for a highlight accomplishment this weekend with a win at Daytona with their AERO™- liveried Ferrari Challenge 488 GT machines.
2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona AERO Sustainable Paint Technology teams, Daytona International Speedway
No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R Jan Magnussen(P) DNK Antonio Garcia(P) ESP Mike Rockenfeller (P) DEU
No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R Oliver Gavin(P) GBR Tommy Milner(P) USA Marcel Fassler (P) CHE
No. 23 United Autosports Phil Hanson(S) GBR Lando Norris GBR Fernando Alonso ESP
No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 Jesse Krohn(G) FIN Augusto Farfus(P) BRA John Edwards(G) USA Nicky Catsburg(G) NLD
No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 Alexander Sims(P) GBR Philipp Eng(G) AUT Connor De Phillippi(G) USA Bill Auberlen(P) USA
No. 32 United Autosports Oreca-Gibson Will Owen(S) USA Bruno Senna(P) BRA Hugo de Sadeleer(S) CHE Paul Di Resta GBR
No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 Cooper MacNeil(S) USA Jeff Segal(G) USA Alessandro Balzan(G) ITA Gunnar Jeannette(S) USA
No. 64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 Bill Sweedler(B) USA Sam Bird(P) GBR Townsend Bell(G) USA Frank Montecalvo(S) USA
No. 69 HART Acura NSX GT3 Chad Gilsinger(S) USA John Falb(B) USA Ryan Eversley(G) USA Sean Rayhall(S) USA
Continental Tire SportsCar challenge BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona
No. 39 Carbahn Motorsports Audi R8 Mark Siegal / San Francisco Tyler McQuarrie / Danville, CA Jeff Westphal / San Mateo, CA
No. 74 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR Pfaff Automotive / AERO Advanced Paint Technology / Audi Genuine Parts / Race Day Foundation Rodrigo Sales / Incline Village, NV Kuno Wittmer / Montreal, Quebec
No. 75 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR APR / AlphaClone / Brooklyn Tailors / Pfaff Automotive / Race Day Foundation Roy Block / Winter Park, FL Pierre Kleinubing / Coconut Creek, FL
No. 76 Compass Racing McLaren GT4 AlphaClone / Pfaff Automotive / McLaren Toronto / AERO Advanced Paint Technology / Race Day Foundation Paul Holton / Orlando, FL
Matt Plumb / Chadds Ford, PA
No. 77 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR TRUMPF / Cushman Wakefield / Audi Sport Britt Casey Jr / Barrington, IL Tom Long / Rock Hill, SC
No. 113 Geoff Palermo Ferrari of San Francisco
No. 126 Robert Picerne, Ferrari of Central Florida
No. 142 Mark Fuller Scuderia Corsa-Ferrari Westlake