It’s that time of year again – motorsports racing is set to begin. Just as we mentioned over the last couple of weeks the Dunlop 24H of Dubai signals the start of worldwide motorsports; here in the U.S. we have the Rolex 24 at Daytona (very important you get the name correct).
This year will mark the 51st running of the famed motorsports challenge. It also will be the last year that Grand-AM and ALMS will be running parallel as they plan to merge beginning in 2014. With the last round of rule changes fans can expect to see a new field of cars mixing it up for this year’s Grand-AM 24 hour race.
Introducing the GX class; these classes of cars are modeled after the GT class of cars but are mixed with modern (forward looking) technologies. Grand-AM governing body has released a list of 13 models from 12 different manufacturers that are eligible, with the likes of: Lotus Evora GX, Porsche Cayman, Mazda with the Skyactiv-D turbo diesel, Audi TT, BMW 1 Series, Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus (four door), Hyundai Genesis, Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S, Nissan 370Z or Altima, and Volkswagen EOS. [It’s important to note – not all cars will be showing in this year’s Daytona race.]
One new entry in the GX class is the Mazda6 running with a turbocharged SKYACTIV-D clean diesel engine that utilizes 63% stock parts in their race engine. Yes that’s right – a race engine that is mainly stock from the factory (which is part of the regulations).
Another manufacturer joining the race this year is Porsche. Three teams will be running a modified Porsche Cayman to compete in the GX class along side the Mazda6. There has been little word on the types of modifications made to the Porsche, but as the series continues we are certain someone will break the silence.
Here is an overview of the contenders for the GX class (credit to SpeedTV.com for putting out this new brief):
Napleton Racing (Porsche Cayman): the entry of David Donohue, Shane Lewis, Jim Norman and Nelson Canache is also one of the strongest in class. Look for this Porsche Cayman to be leading the way as it pursues victory in the class’s debut race.
SpeedSource (Mazda6): the No. 70 entry sees team principal Sylvain Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito rejoined by James Hinchcliffe and Marino Franchitti, with the Visit Florida-backed No. 00 Mazda relying on the efforts of Mazda open-wheel graduates Joel Miller, Tristan Nunez, Spencer Pigot, Tristan Vaultier and endurance veteran Yojiro Terada.
BGB Motorsports (Porsche Cayman): lineup of Eric Foss, Ryan Eversley, Lee Davis, Jeff Mosing and John Teece may not be quite as strong, but it won’t really matter.
Freedom Autosport (Mazda6): running under the SpeedSource umbrella this weekend; with virtually no running time prior to the race, getting to the finish would be the goal for drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, Rhet O’Doski and Derek Whitis.
Bullet Racing (Porsche Cayman): A late addition to the GX ranks, the Canadian effort could be contenders with its Cayman as well; Bimmerworld’s James Clay and Seth Thomas team up with Karl Thomson, Daniel Rogers and endurance veteran Darryl O’Young in the No. 22 entry.
Before the race it’s best to understand a little more of what happened last year. Continental Tire has put together a 45 minute race recap of the 50th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona which can be seen through this link – Grand-AM TV.
For those watching from home: SPEED channel will feature 15 hours of coverage of the Rolex 24 at Daytona starting 3-11 p.m. EST on Saturday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday (check local listings for confirmation).
In addition, SPEED.com will carry overnight coverage (11 p.m.-9 a.m.) utilizing rooftop and in-car cameras plus the radio call from MRN’s Mike Bagley, Jeff Striegle, Kyle Rickey and Buddy Long. MRN is devoting 25 hours of live coverage to the event anchored by Eli Gold and Preston Root.
Live timing: Grand-AM Timing and Scoring
We hope you enjoy the race as much as we will! Let another year of racing begin!