A seven-car GTLM field will roll to the green on Saturday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The class is two cars down since Ford ended its Ford GT program at the end of last year, while all other contenders from 2019 return for the traditional IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Corvette Racing – Chevrolet Corvette C8.R
#3 – Antonio García/Jordan Taylor/Nick Catsburg
#4 – Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Marcel Fässler
An all-new car with an all-new concept. No longer carrying the engine in front of the cockpit, the Corvette C8.R is now a rear-mid engine sportscar. The change in concept has rid the American sportscar of its iconic long nose in favour of a more aerodynamic look and an overall design reminiscent of a stealth jet fighter.
Like all of its GTLM competitors, Chevrolet, too, can boast an overall victory with a production car in the Daytona 24 Hours, the manufacturer’s win coming in 2001 with the Corvette C5-R. The last class win dates back to 2016 when the Pratt & Miller-run squad took a 1-2 victory.
In the driver’s seat of the #3 car some significant changes have been made as well. Out are Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller and in are Jordan Taylor and Nick Catsburg. A lot of experience has been lost with Magnussen’s departure, but in return last year’s overall winner Taylor has joined with Dutch powerhouse Catsburg coming in for the endurance races.
Over in the #4 Corvette other than the car, all is still the same. Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler are all back, all looking to follow up their 2016 Daytona victory with their second win in the classic 24-hour race in Florida.
Victory in Daytona would not only be significant in itself, but would also end Corvette’s winless streak that began after the team last won a race in April of 2018.
BMW Team RLL – BMW M8 GTE
#24 – John Edwards/Augusto Farfus/Chaz Mostert/Jesse Krohn
#25 – Connor De Phillippi/Philipp Eng/Bruno Spengler/Colton Herta
BMW returns to the high-banked Speedway as defending winner and it has Augusto Farfus to thank for it. The Brazilian came in last-minute in 2019 and single-handedly drove the BMW M8 GTE to the lead in the later hours of the rainy race before it was red-flagged. BMW’s first success in Daytona dates back to 1976 when the BMW 3.0 CSL won, followed by class wins in 1997 and 1998 with the BMW M3 GTR as well as two wins as an engine supplier during the Grand Am years.
In 2020 Farfus will take the wheel of the #24 BMW M8 GTE, a change from last year when he jumped in the #25. The BMW superstar replaces Alex Zanardi to team up with John Edwards, Chaz Mostert and Jesse Krohn.
The winning car from last year sees Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng and Colton Herta returning and Bruno Spengler making his first appearance at Daytona since 2017. While De Phillippi, Eng and Spengler are all experienced endurance racers, Herta is a relative newcomer, having made his Daytona debut last year. One year on from his head-turning performance, Herta has become a two-time IndyCar race winner in his rookie year with the best yet to come.
Risi Competizione – Ferrari 488 GTE
#61 – James Calado/Alessandro Pier Guidi/Daniel Serra/Davide Rigon
Houston-based Risi Competizione is the sole Ferrari entrant in GTLM and only one of two Ferraris in total in this year’s Daytona 24 Hours. The Giuseppe Risi-owned team is hot off a win in Petit Le Mans last October and finished second in Daytona one year ago but has yet to taste GTLM victory in the 24 Hours. In its 23 years of existence Risi Competizione did come close to winning outright, finishing second in 1999 with a Ferrari 333 SP and again in 2003 with a Ferrari 360 Modena GT. In 2002 the team finished third overall while claiming the SRP II class win with a Lola B2K/40.
With so few Ferraris making the tour to Daytona, Risi Competizione has top pickings for its driver line-up and with a full factory crew of James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi, Daniel Serra and Davide Rigon has picked the best. The former three form a regular drivers trio, with their finest moment coming in the most recent 24 Hours of Le Mans when they won the GTE Pro class for AF Corse.
Porsche GT Team – Porsche 991 RSR
#911 – Matt Campbell/Nick Tandy/Fred Makowiecki
#912 – Laurens Vanthoor/Earl Bamber/Mathieu Jaminet
Although not having been present in the top class of the Daytona 24 Hours for many years, Porsche still holds the record of most outright wins by a manufacturer by a mile. The brand from Stuttgart has put 18 wins to its name in the time spanning from 1968 to 2003, and even 22 as an engine supplier with the most recent win coming in 2010 in the back of the Action Express Racing Riley.
Victories in the GT Le Mans class have eluded the CORE Autosport-run squad in recent years, however, with its win in 2014 being the last time a Porsche took the Daytona class victory.
Porsche’s latest addition to its factory line-up, Matt Campbell, is immediately being put to work. The Australian teams up with Nick Tandy and Fred Makowiecki in the #911 Porsche 991 RSR for the Michelin Endurance Cup, taking over Makowiecki’s duties as the Frenchman has been promoted to full-time IMSA pilot.
The #912 Porsche remains unchanged: Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber are again scheduled for the full season with Mathieu Jaminet jumping in for the Michelin Endurance Cup weekends.