Rolex 24 Entry List
The Daytona Prototype field is going for a quality over quantity mantra with its number of entries for this year's Rolex 24. The transitional year for the class sees a mix of new bodywork for the third generation DPs, with an additional year for the grandfathered second generation cars. Initially, the DPG3s were about 1 to 1.5 seconds off the second-gen pace at December's test, but the gap closed at January's Roar Before the 24.
For the DP preview, we'll split the field into third-gen Corvettes and Rileys and the previous second-gen entries. The DPG3s should win on their debut, but the old guard of entries will be there to pounce if attrition begins to take a toll on the new cars. There are nine G3 DPs and five grandfathered G2 entries for a total of 14. GTs outnumber the DPs by greater than a three-to-one ratio (46 to 14), which will make navigating the slower traffic one of the greatest challenges facing all these entries:
No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley: Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Graham Rahal, Joey Hand
The lineup, crew and team are the same although the car's not for the defending Rolex 24 at Daytona overall champions. The only comparable experience in getting a new car for the otherwise bulletproof CGR team would be 2004, when the team made its Rolex 24 debut with the same car it would run through last year – chassis No. 004. Pruett said the team was underprepared on that occasion, but has since evolved to become one of the most well oiled machines in the field. After three wins and two runner-up finishes in the last five Rolex 24s, it takes a near-perfect effort to beat this bunch.
No. 02 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley: Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya
Ganassi's “all-star” sister car won this race in 2006, but its main goal for 2012 is providing a clear divide between when Montoya is in the car, and when he isn't. The Colombian made things rather interesting for his three co-drivers in 2011, and had revenge exacted on it throughout. This car's lineup is fractionally lesser than its sister car, but that said, still among the top ones in class.
No. 5 Action Express Racing Chevy Corvette DP: David Donohue, Darren Law, Christian Fittipaldi
Action Express's second car finished ninth in 2011 and employs a different strategy for 2012. While it had Fittipaldi and Max Papis in the team's No. 9 entry, which finished third, the No. 5 had Buddy Rice and Burt Frisselle alongside the usual pairing of Donohue and Law. Fittipaldi now joins this entry for 2012, which with three top drivers is almost a better bet than its sister car, which has four. Donohue and Law have worked together for years, and the challenge is for these two to master the Corvette after years in a Porsche, which shouldn't be too hard a task.
No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley: Ryan Dalziel, Alex Popow, Enzo Potolicchio, Allan McNish, Lucas Luhr
This car provides Starworks team principal Peter Baron a better chance of pulling a Rolex 24 upset. Dalziel is the only one with an overall Rolex 24 win, although McNish and Luhr have class triumphs. Additionally, he hasn't been lacking for mileage this winter – he, Popow and Potolicchio embarked on a world tour of endurance racing at Dubai (24 hours) and Abu Dhabi (12) in a United Autosports-entered Audi R8. After his early accident at last year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, McNish (RIGHT) must store an equal amount of patience to his unquestioned pace, as Audi gives him special dispensation to run a Ford this race.
No. 9 Action Express Racing Chevy Corvette DP: Joao Barbosa, Terry Borcheller, J.C. France, Max Papis
Barbosa and Borcheller were part of the team's Rolex 24 overall win on its debut in 2010, and Papis of course made his introduction on a worldwide stage with his spellbinding drive in the MOMO Ferrari 333SP in 1996. So those three can help the Gary Nelson-led team to its second win in three years, although it's a big change for the team switching from a Porsche Riley to a Corvette. Having Iain Watt's engineering services, though, is a bonus for the Florida-based team.
No. 10 SunTrust Racing Chevy Corvette DP: Max Angelelli, Ricky Taylor, Ryan Briscoe
SunTrust has only one Rolex 24 win but is primed to score a second with its three-driver lineup. That's the same recipe that won in 2005, when Angelelli co-drove with Ricky Taylor's father Wayne and Emmanuel Collard. SunTrust starts 2012 with the same driver lineup that finished fifth a year ago, and a flashier livery with a vibrant orange and white adorning its new Corvette. With Angelelli's tenacity, Taylor's pace and Briscoe's headiness as one of the race's top “ringers,” this is easily one of the favorites.