Roar Before the 24: Saturday news and notes

Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

Roar Before the 24: Saturday news and notes

IMSA

Roar Before the 24: Saturday news and notes

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Bamber relishes the chance to race with countryman Dixon

Earl Bamber spent years as a Porsche factory driver, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice in the 919 prototype. He also spent a lot of time racing the Porsche 911 RSR in GTE/GTLM against the Chip Ganassi-campaigned Ford GTs. Now he finds himself in the Chip Ganassi Racing fold, having joined the No. 02 Cadillac Racing squad for the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

As much as it gives him a chance to battle for victories and the championship in a top-flight DPi car, it is also an opportunity to race alongside his New Zealand countryman, and a man whose career he followed closely as his own was developing, Scott Dixon. The six-time IndyCar champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner joins the sports car squad for at least the Rolex, a race he’s won three times overall and once in GTLM.

“I grew up watching Scott Dixon win IndyCar titles for [Chip Ganassi],” Bamber said. “So now to be in the same team driving for him with also Scott, you know, it’s, it’s really awesome. When you’re a young kid, and you’re driving go karts, and Formula Fords, you always sort of like a dream and aspire to these sorts of drives and roles. So then to one day join those teams, to be teammates with Scott, it’s something really special. When you step back, you’re like, ‘Wow, it is quite an amazing journey, this whole motor racing thing.'”

So far he’s enjoying his time with Cadillac Racing and the Chip Ganassi organization.

“I love the team and the fact that they’re very welcoming,” Bamber added. “You know, they let us do what we want to do. They give us opportunity to drive great race cars and try win races. So I’m really loving their transition at something good at something fresh and new.”

As for the Cadillac DPi itself, Bamber says it’s seriously fast, not necessarily a statement one might expect from someone who has won Le Mans in an LMP car. But he also feels the sensation might come down to driving the prototype on American tracks, an opportunity he didn’t have with Porsche.

“[America] has these really hard, challenging tracks that you can’t just go and do five laps and be right on the money. You’ve got those tracks where you’ve got to take half a day to build your way up to it and with the Cadillac, it’s quick; these cars definitely get the adrenaline pumping. I can’t wait to go to Watkins Glen, I can’t wait to go to Mosport, because I think it’s gonna be insane!” he enthuses.

Bamber shares the No. 02 with another newcomer to the team, Alex Lynn, and, for the Rolex, Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen.

Balance of Performance adjustments

Before the qualifying session for Sunday’s qualifying race that will set the grid for the Rolex 24, IMSA announced some Balance of Performance adjustments for the GTD cars. Most notable, the Corvettes received a 1.5mm larger restrictor, now at 42.8mm. The Corvettes, converted to something more similar to a GT3 car from its former GTLM spec, had been struggling to find pace at Daytona, a situation apparently not improved appreciably by the bump in horsepower afforded by the larger restrictor.

Six Grand Marshals named for 60th Anniversary Rolex 24

Six notable men covering seven decades of 24 Hour history will serve as Grand Marshals for the 60th anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Shortly before the green flag flies on Saturday afternoon on Jan. 29, Mario Andretti, Hurley Haywood, Scott Pruett, Bobby Rahal, Jack Roush and Wayne Taylor will give the command to “start engines” to open the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech Championship season.

Each of these honorees has tasted victory in the Rolex 24 during different eras over the last six decades, spanning 1967 to 2005 — five as drivers, and three as team owners. Haywood and Pruett lead the drivers with five overall Rolex 24 victories from behind the wheel while Roush reeled off 10 straight triumphs as an owner. Taylor, a two-time winner as a driver in the Rolex 24, will go for an unprecedented, record fourth consecutive triumph and fifth overall as an owner in next weekend’s race. Andretti and Rahal both recorded an overall Rolex 24 win as a driver.

“What a privilege it is to have these six racing legends with us for our 60th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona,” said Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher. “Our fans will be able to see them up close and relive their incredible success here. It’s going to be a celebration of 60 years of memorable, iconic moments, and the then once the green flag falls, a continuation of a rich legacy at The World Center of Racing.”

The legends will be recognized in pre-race ceremonies and will also participate in Saturday morning’s driver autograph session inside the UNOH Fanzone.

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