All Eyes On Daytona

The new Mazda DPi. [Photo by Eddie LePine]

The new Mazda DPi. [Photo by Eddie LePine]

By Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

At 2:30pm on Sunday the results will be known and the Rolex 24 at Daytona will be in the history books. Prior to the conclusion of the race, there will be drama, excitement, disappointment, heroics and jubilation.

55 cars are entered for this year’s race, and the field is possibly the strongest in the history of the event. Led by 12 entries in the new generation prototype class, it looks on the face of it like anyone could win.

The GTLM class features 11 strong entries, led by four Ford GT cars, who are going all out to add Daytona to their Le Mans victory from last year. It will not be easy for them, as last year’s winning Corvette team has two strong entries. Porsche is on hand as well with two of their all new mid-engined Porsche 911 RSRs. The field is rounded out with two factory BMW entries and a lone Ferrari.

LMPC, which is in its last season, features a total of five entries, two cars from BAR1, two cars from Starworks and a lone entry from Performance Tech.

The GTD class is totally up for grabs, with a staggering 27 cars entered, including new cars from Acura, Lexus and Mercedes.
Who will win the Rolex 24? That’s a good question. With all the cars in the prototype class being brand new, it will likely come down to who can get through the race with the fewest problems. But we are willing to go out on a limb and make a prediction. We think that at the end of the day it will likely be Rebellion Racing drivers Sebastien Buemi, Nick Heidfeld, Neel Jani and Stephane Sarrazin taking the overall win. Rebellion Racing has the equipment, their ORECA Gibson 07 LMP2, and the driver line up to get the job done. Of course, in a 24 hour race anything can happen, but keep an eye on these guys.

It LMPC its anybody’s race, so we won’t make a pick on this one.

In GTLM we think Ford will prevail as they have four bullets in their gun against everyone else’s two (save for a single shot for Ferrari). Ford really wants to win this race and the Ganassi crew is going to pull out all the stops for the victory.

In GTD, again it is anybody’s race with so many fine cars and teams involved in the competition, but we have a favorite. Look for Alex Job Racing to run strong with their new Audi R8 LMS GT3. Their driver line up of Bill Sweedler, Towsend Bell, Frank Montecalvo and Pierre Kaffer is a great one and with the experience and success of Alex Job behind them, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them on the top step of the podium.

However, it is all speculation at this point. The race has yet to be run. Regardless of who wins, the Rolex 24 is going to be an outstanding race and a fitting start to the 2017 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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