Introduced in 2018, the DPi category serves as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s top class where manufacturers can enter modified LMP2 machinery that matches their brands’ design style. Although with eight cars entered across five teams the list for the Rolex 24 at Daytona isn’t very long, the class is one of the hottest contested.
DAYTONA 24 HOURS | LMP2 PREVIEW | GTLM PREVIEW | GTD PREVIEW | CORVETTE C8.R TECH ANALYSIS | INTERVIEW NICK CATSBURG | INTERVIEW DENNIS OLSEN | PRE-RACE NOTEBOOK
JDC-Miller MotorSports – Cadillac DPi-V.R
#5 (Mustang Sampling Racing) – Sébastien Bourdais/Loïc Duval/João Barbosa
#85 – Juan Piedrahita/Matheus Leist/Chris Miller/Tristan Vautier
Fan-favourite JDC-Miller Motorsports is back for its fourth year of top-level prototype racing, and it is safe to say this will be a team to watch throughout the 2020 season. The Minnesota-based team has partnered with Mustang Sampling Racing after Action Express Racing scaled back to a one car operation. Racing legends Sébastien Bourdais, Loïc Duval and João Barbosa are set to compete in the #5 Cadillac DPi-V.R.
The #85 car nicknamed ‘Banana Boat’ for its bright yellow livery, will be piloted by Juan Piedrahita, IndyCar refugee Matheus Leist, Chris Miller, and long-time sportscar ace Tristan Vautier. Considered as the ‘underdog’ car, expect to see this driver line-up give it their all throughout the race as all drivers fight to win their first Rolex Daytona watch.
Acura Team Penske – Acura ARX-05
#6 – Dane Cameron/Simon Pagenaud/Juan Pablo Montoya
#7 – Ricky Taylor/Hélio Castroneves/Alexander Rossi
When Roger Penske debuted his eponymous team in the 1966 Daytona 24 Hours, did he imagine he’d still be there 54 years later? His drivers stood on the podium that day to accept the trophies for their class win — it would be the first of many, many more for Penske. It took Penske Racing three tries to win the Daytona 24 Hours overall, winning the race in 1969 with a Lola T70 and eternal Penske racer Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons driving — the latter joining the team only days before the race as a substitute driver. In the time since then Team Penske has become the golden standard in American motorsports, winning everything there is to win on the North American continent.
After dipping in and out of sportscar racing throughout the decades, Penske, Honda Performance Development and Oreca joined forces in 2018 to enter the Acura AR35TT 3.5 L Turbo V6-powered Acura ARX-05 in the IMSA championship. Success, again, came quickly: Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya were crowned champions a year later.
Joining reigning champs Cameron and Montoya in the #6 Acura for Team Penske’s attempt at its second outright Daytona victory is Simon Pagenaud — a logical choice as the Frenchman’s record includes titles in the American Le Mans Series, IndyCar, Indianapolis 500 and above all, is already a Penske pilot in IndyCar. 2020 will be the trio’s third season together with Pagenaud picking up the endurance races.
IndyCar superstar Alexander Rossi signed up for another season with Andretti Autosport in IndyCar, passing on an offer from Penske to join its IndyCar squad it was said. The Captain, however, did retain the American’s services for Daytona, as Rossi is teaming up with Ricky Taylor and Hélio Castronves in the #7 Acura for a second year.
Konica Minolta – Cadillac DPi-V.R
#10 – Renger van der Zande/Ryan Briscoe/Scott Dixon/Kamui Kobayashi
Indiana-based Wayne Taylor Racing has won the Daytona 24 Hours three times in its 16-year history, with the latest two won in 2017 and 2019. Last year’s victory didn’t jump-start the team’s return to winning ways, leaving the team with only two wins since the summer of 2017. On the other hand, those two races are Petit Le Mans and the Daytona 24 Hours, proving the team can perform under pressure.
The defending winners are back this year with a changed line-up aboard the #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. Fulltime racer Renger van der Zande returns for his third season with the Wayne Taylor-owned team alongside last year’s Daytona co-driver Kamui Kobayashi. Jordan Taylor and Fernando Alonso have been replaced by former Ford GT factory drivers Scott Dixon – a three-time Daytona winner – and Ryan Briscoe – a two-time winner.
Whelen Engineering Racing – Cadillac DPi-V.R
#31 – Mike Conway/Pipo Derani/Filipe Albuquerque/Felipe Nasr
Long-time competitor Action Express Racing starts the new decade with one goal in mind and that is to continue its stretch of success in IMSA competition since its first Daytona 24 Hours victory in 2010. Having scaled back to one car for the season, the focus now for the team is to get the Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Mike Conway, Pipo Derani, Filipe Alburquerque and Felipe Nasr on the top step of the championship podium by the end of the year.
The Denver, North Carolina, based outfit has an impressive IMSA record, having claimed the 2014, 2015, and 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Teams’ and Drivers’ championships, as well as obtaining the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 North American Endurance Championships titles. Will they keep the stretch alive and claim a seventh NAEC title?
Mazda Team Joest – Mazda RT24-P
#55 – Jonathan Bomarito/Harry Tincknell/Ryan Hunter-Reay
#77 – Oliver Jarvis/Tristan Nunez/Oliver Pla
Reinhold Joest tasted victory at Daytona himself in 1980 when he won with his own Porsche 935J as part of the World Championship of Makes, and again as team-owner in 1991. Mazda, on the other hand, despite its longtime involvement with American sportscar racing, never managed to win outright in Daytona, but did take countless class wins throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
The European sportscar powerhouse has two more races on contract with Mazda. Whatever the future holds for the co-operation between the manufacturer and race team, the combination will be eager to add the Daytona 24 Hours to their palmarès and if 2019 and Roar performance is any indication, that might just happen. Mazda’s long-awaited first DPi win finally at Watkins Glen and was immediately doubled down upon with more wins in Mosport and Road America and the team topped many of the charts during the multi-session pre-season Roar Before The 24 test.
While the heart of the driver line-up remains unchanged, Oliver Pla has been moved to the #77 Mazda for the endurance races, replacing Timo Bernhard who recently announced his retirement to focus on the running of his own racing team. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who substituted for Harry Tincknell in Mid-Ohio last year, is promoted to endurance driver in 2020.
Christian Rodriguez contributed additional reporting.
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