It’s a dawn of a new era for sports car racing, as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship kicks off this weekend on the famed Florida high banks for the 52nd annual Rolex 24 at Daytona.
To gear up for the history-making event, FOX Sports’ SPEED Blog previews the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic with a team-by-team look at the 67 cars that are set to compete in the season-opening round.
Following Monday’s look at GTD, check out a preview of the Prototype Challenge (PC) class.
TV Schedule (Sat. Jan 25-26):
2pm-4pm ET on FOX
4pm-9pm ET on FOX Sports 2
9pm-7am ET on IMSA.com
7am-3pm ET on FOX Sports 1
Prototype Challenge (9 Entries)
CORE autosport: The three-time and defending championship-winning team returns with full-season drivers Colin Braun and Jon Bennett. Mark Wilkins and James Gue complete the driving squad for Daytona. It’s a steady lineup that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially with one of the best teams in the business turning the wrenches.
RSR Racing: The Gentilozzi family team has pulled out all the stops in its quest for victory in the season-opener and TUDOR Championship. With the lineup of Bruno Junqueira, Duncan Ende, David Heinemeier Hansson and Gustavo Menezes (No. 08) and Alex Tagliani, Chris Cumming, Conor Daly and Rusty Mitchell (No. 09), both cars will be quick and could very well be the team to beat.
Starworks Motorsport: The Peter Baron-led squad fields two Oreca FLM09 cars, which proved to both have the pace at the Roar. In particular, look for the No. 7 car of Alex Popow, Pierre Kaffer, Kyle Marcelli and Martin Fuentes to shine, along with the strong lineup of Renger van der Zande, Mirco Schultis, Eric Lux and GP2 ace Sam Bird, who impressed in his sports car racing debut earlier this month.
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports: A late diver shakeup could end up boosting the Bobby Oergel-led squad’s chances of victory. Gunnar Jeannette and Frankie Montecalvo join 2013 PC champion Mike Guasch and Asian LMS champ David Cheng, making for what should be a fast and consistent squad. The California-based operation knows how to win in the class and has typically been one of the best engineered.
8Star Motorsports: Enzo Potolicchio’s Florida-based outfit focuses on a single-car PC entry for the Rolex 24, with one of the strongest lineups in the class as well. Three-time Le Mans winner Tom Kimber-Smith reunites with the Venezuelan following their 2012 FIA WEC title and are joined by Michael Marsal and Rob Huff, the 2012 WTCC champion who was originally tabbed to drive for Starworks. Don’t count out this lineup from class victory either.
BAR1 Motorsports: After winning the final three ALMS races last year, the Brian Alder-led squad will be aiming for continued success, but with an all-new driver lineup. 2013 Prototype Lites champion Sean Rayhall steps up to PC full-time, joined at the 24 by James Kovacic, Doug Bielefeld, Gaston Kearby and Tonis Kasemets. With it being a true pro-am lineup, it’s unclear where this entry will stack up against the steep competition.
Performance Tech: The PC stalwarts head into 2014 with a new lineup, as Tristan Nunez graduates to the Prototype class with Mazda. The Florida-based squad’s Prototype Lites driver Ryan Booth teams with Raphael Matos, Tomy Drissi, Gabriel Casagrande and Júlio Campos, in what’s likely to be a steady driving squad that will be hoping for a trouble-free run.Rolex 24, Sports Cars