IMSA’s New Year

Wayne Taylor will be back, with new drivers. [Photo by Jack Webster]

Wayne Taylor will be back, with new drivers. [Photo by Jack Webster]

By Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

IMSA’s historic 50th anniversary celebration season is in the history books, and in 2020 IMSA will begin writing more motorsports history beginning this weekend at the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway, in preparation for the first WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race of the season, the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

In the very short off season, there have been a number of changes to the participants in the WeatherTech series, with both additions and subtractions taking place.

First of all, Scott Atherton, who guided IMSA through very interesting times and substantial growth, has now retired as President of IMSA and has been replaced by fan favorite, competitor favorite and media favorite John Doonan, most recently of Mazda Motorsports fame. We are looking forward to the first events for John at the Roar and the Rolex, for we see nothing but positives for the series going into 2020.

Among the 40 cars and 12 manufacturers set for the Roar later this week, will be new cars, new drivers and drivers with new teams.

Of note, the Corvette C8.R will be making its competition debut in the GTLM class at the Roar. Both the #3 and #4 will feature changes to their driver line up. Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor in the #3 machine will be joined by Nicky Catsburg for the endurance races this season (Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans). The #4 Corvette with regular drivers Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner will be joined by Marcel Fässler, who returns for the 5th consecutive season. Fan favorite Jan Magnussen has unfortunately lost his seat with Corvette, but we can hopefully anticipate seeing him compete again in IMSA at some point.

There will be eight cars in the Daytona Prototype International class, from three manufacturers, going for the overall victory – Acura, Cadillac and Mazda. Last year’s championship winning team, Acura Team Penske, returns in 2020 with their driver line up unchanged from 2019 – expect them to be tough all year long. Cadillac will be looking to rebound from a somewhat off year in 2019, and Mazda looks to keep heading in the right direction, after break through wins last year. However, big changes are instore for Mazda, with the announced departure of Team Joest from management duties later in the season and Multimatic taking over team operations. Also, Mazda’s spiritual leader and guiding force, John Doonan has left Mazda to take over the operation of IMSA.

Of note, there has been a major uptick in LMP2 entries, with seven cars entered from two constructors – ORECA and Multimatic/Riley.

In GTLM, seven cars are entered, down from last season with the finish of the Ford GT program (they will be missed), but the class is still very strong, with manufacturer support from Chevrolet, BMW, Porsche and Ferrari. In addition to the new Corvettes mentioned above, Porsche is fielding two brand new 2020 spec 911 RSR cars.

GT Daytona will once again feature the largest field of entries, with 18 entries from 9 different manufacturers: Porsche, Lamborghini, Lexus, Aston Martin, Acura, Ferrari, Mercedes-AMG, Audi and BMW.

Here are some other changes you will see at the Roar and the Rolex: The #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi confirms Pipo Derani and Filipe Nasr for the season and adds Filipe Albuquerque for the endurance contests. Matt McMurry will be the regular co-driver of the #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 alongside Mario Farnbacher. NASCAR driver Kyle Busch will be competing in the 2020 Rolex 24 in the AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RCF GT3. Wayne Taylor Racing has signed Ryan Briscoe for the season, to co-drive with Renger van der Zande in the Konica Minolta Cadillac, replacing Jordan Taylor, who was signed by Corvette. DragonSpeed has committed to the entire six race LMP2 schedule for 2020 with Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley. Series regulars and fan favorites Katherine Legge and Christina Nielsen have been named as full season co-drivers of the new #19 GEAR Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3. Mustang Sampling will be back (with a new team), as JDC-Miller Motorsports will field the #5 Cadillac DPi for Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais for the full WeatherTech season.

All of that is just the tip of the iceberg. You have to make your way to Daytona, either this weekend for the Roar or January 25-26 for the Rolex 24 to take in the awesome spectacle which is IMSA sports car racing, the closest and best sports car racing on the planet.

Hope to see you there.

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