The 2020 Daytona 24 Hours gets underway in just a few hours and before the big race unfolds, GT REPORT brings all the latest news and paddock gossip.
➤ The biggest news from the paddock was the joint announcement by IMSA and the ACO that there will be prototype convergence in the top class for the first time since LMP1 cars thundered around America. The two organisations confirmed plans for LMDh, which will be eligible for both IMSA and WEC competition. The cars will be similar to the current DPi platform in that they’re based on LMP2 chassis from Oreca, Ligier, Multimatic and Dallara with manufacturer bodykits on top. They’ll all have a standard KERS system and they’ll be BoP’d to be competitive with the Le Mans Hypercars.
IMSA Chairman Jim France said: “When my father, Bill France Sr., brought the first Daytona Continental sports car race here to Daytona International Speedway back in 1962, he wanted to bring together sports car drivers, teams and manufacturers from around the world. With the ACO, IMSA and manufacturers aligned, today’s announcement proudly takes my father’s vision to the next level.”
➤ Back in the here and now, the Daytona 24 Hours gets underway at 13:40 local time (18:40 UK / 19:40 CET) with live, uninterrupted coverage, available on the IMSA app and IMSA.tv outside of the USA, where it’s available on NBC Sports or NBC Trackpass.
➤ Starting on pole is the #77 Mazda of Oliver Jarvis, his second table-topping result in as many years. He’ll be racing the RT24-P alongside Tristan Nunez and Olivier Pla. In the LMP2 class, pole was fought out by the bronze-rated drivers, with Ben Keating coming out on top in the PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca 07.
➤ The GTLM front-row is an all-Porsche affair as Nick Tandy – in the #911 he shares with Matt Campbell and Fred Makowiecki – out-qualified the #912 driven by Laurens Vanthoor (who is joined by Earl Bamber and Matthieu Jaminet) by 0.049sec in a great result for the new Porsche 911 RSR-19. Completing the Porsche sweep in the GT classes was Zachary Robichon who put the Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 991.2 GT3R on pole. He’ll be racing alongside Lars Kern, Dennis Olsen and Patrick Pilet.
➤ Due to a precautionary engine change for the #14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 the car driven by Kyle Busch, Michael de Quesada, Parker Chase and Jack Hawksworth missed qualifying and will start at the back of the GTD grid.
➤ 38 cars will take the green flag after a number of late nights for quite a few of the teams as they repaired damaged machinery.
➤ Black Swan Racing will be on the grid after its opening practice crash thanks to the support of fellow Porsche team Wright Motorsports. Black Swan will be using Wright’s spare Porsche 991.2 GT3R chassis for the race.
➤ Acura Team Penske will also have its full complement of two prototypes after the team quickly repaired the #7 ARX-05 following Ricky Taylor’s crash in qualifying. The car was back out for night practice on Thursday night, just a few hours after qualifying.
➤ Don Yount didn’t do any terminal damage to the Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca despite ending the final practice session with the car resting at an angle against the tyre barriers on the inside of turn six. Yount is fine, and the car appears to have minimal damage, but the incident red flagged the final session – which was topped by Kamui Kobayashi in the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac.
➤ Unlike previous years, this weekend sees remarkably few new-for-2020 cars make it to Florida. Only Chevrolet is bringing a brand-new model: the Corvette C8.R. We take a closer look at this Daytona debutante in our tech analysis.
➤ Nick Catsburg has been contracted by Corvette to compete the Michelin Endurance Cup starting with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener in Daytona. What is his first impression of the Corvette C8.R and how did he end up racing for three manufacturers all in one season? “The Corvette C8.R kind of feels similar to one of the other mid-engine cars I drove which was the Lamborghini: characteristic-wise it’s similar to that.” Read our interview with the Dutchman for the full story.
➤ Dennis Olsen, the current Intercontinental GT Challenge is back for a full season with Pfaff Motorsports in the #9 Porsche 991.2 GT3R. We caught up with the Norwegian earlier this weekend to talk about the hidden challenges of the Daytona 24 Hours as well as his exit from Porsche: “I’m lucky to be still racing, for sure, but my goal is to prove them wrong and do even better this year.”
➤ 24 drivers will leave straight for the Bathurst 12 Hour after the race. The Australian endurance classic again serves as the second part of the Daytona-Bathurst 36-hour back-to-back. Drivers doing the intercontinental double are: Laurens Vanthoor, Earl Bamber, Dries Vanthoor, Jules Gounon, Oliver Jarvis, Mirko Bortolotti, Daniel Serra, Mario Farnbacher, Renger van der Zande, Dane Cameron, Augusto Farfus, Nick Catsburg, Chaz Mostert, Álvaro Parente, Andrea Caldarelli, Marco Mapelli, Scott Dixon, Shane van Gisbergen, Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet, Patrick Pilet, Felipe Fraga, Andrew Watson, Roman De Angelis.
➤ After a rather cold start to the race weekend, the weather has improved for the race. All throughout the ’24 Hours’ it’ll stay dry and sunny. Temperatures will reach a high of 19 degrees Celsius on Saturday afternoon and a low of 6 on Sunday morning. For a more detailed weather report visit Racecast Weather.
➤ Ride onboard with Jordan Taylor in the #3 Corvette C8.R.
VIDEO: #3 CORVETTE ONBOARD