IMSA’s 50th anniversary season will get off to a ‘Roaring’ start on the first weekend of January with 47 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship entries slated to participate in the annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona three-day test session on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course.
Of the 47 cars on the provisional Roar entry list released today, 37 have confirmed plans to compete full-time in the 2019 WeatherTech Championship as season-long, “premium” entries. Today’s provisional entry list includes all teams and cars that have been entered for the Roar. An updated entry list with driver lineups will be released on Jan. 2.
The Roar test on Jan. 4-6 is mandatory for any team expecting to compete in the 57th Rolex 24 At Daytona on the weekend of Jan. 24-27.
The premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class features 11 entries from four different manufacturers: Cadillac (6), Acura (2), Mazda (2) and Nissan (1). Leading the way is the defending Rolex 24 champion No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R. The team announced this week that the car will be shared by 2018 co-drivers Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi – who will retire from driving after the 2019 Rolex 24 – and FIA World Endurance Championship ace Mike Conway.
The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R that won the 2018 WeatherTech Championship Prototype title with co-drivers Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran also returns at the Roar. In September, the team announced that Curran is shifting his driving focus to the four IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup rounds in 2019, with Brazilian racer Pipo Derani – a 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winner – stepping in as Nasr’s new season-long teammate.
The GT Le Mans (GTLM) class features nine race cars from five manufacturers: Chevrolet (2), BMW (2), Ford (2), Porsche (2) and Ferrari (1). Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, which has won each of the past two Rolex 24s in the GTLM class, returns with its familiar pair of entries.
The No. 66 Ford GT – which took the 2017 Rolex 24 victory as well as a win in the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans – is back as well as the No. 67 entry that won the 2018 Rolex 24. The No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, which won both of the past two WeatherTech Championship GTLM season-long titles, leads the two-car effort for the Corvette.
The GT Daytona (GTD) class again boasts the largest number of entries with 23 international GT3-spec race cars on the list from eight different manufacturers: Lamborghini (5), Audi (4), Porsche (4), Ferrari (3), Lexus (2), Mercedes-AMG (2), Acura (2) and BMW (1). In a new-for-2019 change, GTD cars only will participate in the first two days of testing – Jan. 4-5 – at the Roar.
Back to defend its 2018 Rolex 24 GTD victory is the No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3. Also returning are 2018 WeatherTech Championship GTD champions Paul Miller Racing. The team recently announced that driver Bryan Sellers, who won the 2018 GTD season championship with Madison Snow, now will share the No. 48 Lamborghini on a full-time basis with 2018 Lamborghini Super Trofeo AM class world champion Ryan Hardwick.
Corey Lewis also returns to the No. 48 driver lineup for the four IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup rounds. He teamed with Sellers and Snow, to win the 2018 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.
The LMP2 class for Pro-Am prototype driver lineups, features a four-car entry list. All four are ORECA chassis powered by Gibson V8 engines.
On-track testing for WeatherTech Championship machines at the Roar begins at 11 a.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. The DPi, GTLM and LMP2 classes will have a total of seven practice sessions between Jan. 4 and Jan. 6, with five practice sessions set for the GTD class on Jan. 4-5.
As was the case for the first time in 2018, qualifying for garage allocations and pit lane assignments again will take place for all classes in 2019. The 15-minute GTD qualifying session starts Saturday, Jan. 5 at 4:30 p.m. ET. GTLM qualifying runs from 11:50 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 6, followed by DPi and LMP2 qualifying from 12:15 to 12:30 p.m. ET.
In addition to WeatherTech Championship testing, the Roar also includes six test sessions for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge throughout the three days of on-track activity. Also, the IMSA Prototype Challenge opens its 2019 season with the three-hour Scouts of America race beginning at 12:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 5. The race will be streamed live on IMSA.com.
All three days of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona are open to the public, with free admission for 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona ticket holders.