Sunday, June 4, 2023

Wayne Taylor Racing leads for fourth consecutive Rolex 24 win

Daytona Beach, Fla. ( Associated Press) — The team to beat will be in front when the Rolex 24 in Daytona begins Saturday when Wayne Taylor Racing turns the ground green.

If the No. 10 Acura is still ahead after two trips round the clock at Daytona International Speedway, Wayne Taylor Racing will become the first team to win four consecutive Rolex watches.

But making history in the 60th race of IMSA’s prestigious sports car race won’t be easy: 61 cars entered Daytona this weekend – the most since 2014 – and Chip Ganassi has the talent to try to stop Taylor. Brought two Cadillacs full of .

Ganassi is the only other team owner to have won a Rolex for three consecutive years.

“Definitely Wayne is the guy to beat lately,” Ganassi said on Friday. “He’s the guy everyone’s shooting for right now.”

WTR made a change to its lineup this year as four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves is now a driver for Meyer Shank Racing in the top prototype class. Will Stevens, a veteran racer with six starts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, joins last year’s winning lineup of Ricky Taylor, Philippe Albuquerque and IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi to make his only sports car debut of the season at Daytona. do.

WTR is pleased with Team Stevens, who got the job based on reputation alone after a phone call with team owner Taylor.

“You could tell straight away that he knew what he was doing,” Taylor said. “You don’t even have to put it in the car to know when you’ve found the right man.”

WTR has won five of the last six Rolexes.

But Ganassi is back and fully loaded in 2020 after CGR’s one-year hiatus from sports car racing. The organization returned last season as a single-car Cadillac team with no preparation time. This year, Ganassi has expanded to two entries and is back on the “star car” concept of loading its lineup.

Number 01 is anchored by full-time IMSA drivers Ranger van der Zande and Sebastian Bourdais, and Scott Dixon, six-time IndyCar champion making his 19th consecutive debut, and reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palu in his Daytona debut. Number 02 are newcomers Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who will drive the car for the entire IMSA season, and endurance extras Kevin Magnussen and Marcus Ericsson, one of their IndyCar drivers, who will make their Rolex debut.

“You don’t go into a race saying, ‘Let’s put together star powered cars,'” Ganassi said. “I want to put cars together with drivers we think can win races.”

Ganassi has a similar attitude regarding another addition to his IMSA program: Danielle Shepherd, simulation engineer from Palou’s championship IndyCar team last season, has been promoted to lead engineer for the No. 02 IMSA car.

“He’s a quality engineer, this was his next step,” Ganassi said. “It’s not about being him or her. It’s about his good work and that’s what we do. He earned it.”

The top Daytona Prototype class includes two Acuras and five Cadillacs, including the IMSA champion Action Express. The team again has the second car to be titled by seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmy Johnson, who, along with Hendrick Motorsports and sponsoring partner, put together the program.

48 again includes Johnson, Le Mans winner Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Rockenefeller, but this year’s World Endurance Championship has added Jose María López, one of Kobayashi’s teammates. The team finished second behind Wayne Taylor last year, when Simon Pagenaud was in the lineup – Pagenaud, like Castroneves, is now running No. 60 Acura for Shank.

“For me and Jimmy and Rocky, we run together last year and know what we need to do. We are more together,” Kobayashi said. “We negotiate what we need to do to win, Gives more information about this. We’re improving.”

IndyCar has 12 drivers in five classes, while Austin Cindrick is NASCAR’s only representative. Cyndrique is driving the new GTD Pro class that has replaced the GT Le Mans and features 13 entries between eight different manufacturers. Corvette Racing won both the Rolex and Championships last season with the No. 3 entry of Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nikki Katsberg, who are back with their lineup.

And starting on pole in the Le Mans Prototype 3 class is Andretti Autosport at the start of its race. Despite his rich history in motorsports, Andretti has never entered North America’s top sports car race, but is fulfilling the vision of the late John Andretti at Daytona.

John Andretti wanted to get into sports car racing with his son, Jarrett, and the two started the project in 2019. John Andretti died of cancer two years ago on Sunday, the day his son is expected to mark the anniversary with an Andretti Autosport victory in Daytona.

The Andretti car will start on pole for the LMP3.

Jarrett Andretti said, “I can’t think of a better way to honor my father for winning this race for him and fulfilling his vision.”


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