No. 62 Risi Competizione with American Canadian Racing Ferrari 458: Raphael Matos, Gianmaria Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella
Risi and Ferrari are synonymous with success – witness the team's run of six straight Le Mans-style endurance race wins from 2008's 24 Hours of Le Mans through 2010's 12 Hours of Sebring. The team's driver lineup is excellent but either strategy calls or unreliability have undermined the team's inherent pace in recent years. Whether such issues will prop up for the Grand-Am spec 458's debut, a different beast from its GTE-spec F458 Italia run in ALMS, remain to be seen.
No. 63 Risi Competizione with American Canadian Racing Ferrari 458: Toni Vilander, Andrea Bertolini, Olivier Beretta
Hard to see where this lineup isn't as strong as the sister car. The only minor downside is that Bertolini's done more sprint racing than endurance racing of late. Vilander should provide ample tutelage on the Ferrari to new recruit Beretta, who enters the team after eight years with Corvette. Beretta's always been one of the best at Daytona and shouldn't have too difficult a time sorting out the 458.
No. 66 TRG Porsche GT3 Cup: Patrick Pilet, Ben Keating, Allan Simonsen, Dominik Farnbacher
None of these drivers are marquee names, but collectively have scored some impressive endurance race results over the years. Simonsen and Farnbacher finished runner-up in the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans GT2 class in a Hankook-shod Ferrari 430, while Pilet – something of a young John Travolta lookalike – is another Porsche factory driver placed at one of its top customer teams. Keating will be busy, driving in both TRG's trademark No. 66 and sister No. 68 entries.
No. 67 TRG Porsche GT3 Cup: Spencer Pumpelly, Steve Bertheau, Wolf Henzler, Marc Goossens, Jeroen Bleekemolen
On paper, the early class favorite. TRG has somehow managed to improve the winning lineup from 2011, swapping Andy Lally and Brendan Gaughan for Bleekemolen and Goossens. Lally for Bleekemolen is a straight trade of aces, but Gaughan to Goossens is a substantial upgrade. If Bertheau's minimal driving time goes without issue, the other four should provide the necessary balance of pace, patience and reliability to keep the car near the top of the class yet again.
No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458: Jeff Segal, Emil Assentato, Nick Longhi, Anthony Lazzaro
There's a solid group of people assembled at AIM, but this is a difficult car to project given the amount of unknowns. The team itself shifts from DP to GT, with Segal and Assentato joining the team and switching from Mazda to Ferrari. How will the team call the race as a GT entrant? How the drivers will integrate into the team? And of course, how will the Ferrari hold up? The people assembled outweigh the question marks, and therefore, this car makes the top tier cut.
No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8: Sylvain Tremblay, Jonathan Bomarito, Marino Franchitti, James Hinchcliffe
SpeedSource still provides Mazda's best shot at a GT class win by just a hair over the top Dempsey or Sahlen's entries. They're not the favorites, but the team can draw on its past success at Daytona to dig deep and perhaps pull a rabbit out of the hat. None of Tremblay, Bomarito, Franchitti or Hinchcliffe is error-prone and while “Hinch” is the only endurance race wild card in the quartet, he should be heady enough to keep the car in contention.
No. 88 Autohaus Motorsports Camaro GT.R: Paul Edwards, Jordan Taylor, Tommy Milner, Matthew Marsh
If Corvette doesn't take the outright win, Chevrolet still could take the GT class win with this Camaro. The car that nearly won the Rolex Series championship in 2011 has swapped Bill Lester for Paul Edwards alongside impressive youngster Jordan Taylor. Milner gives the team a factory GM driver for support and Marsh has enough 24-hour race experience to keep the car from tumbling down the order.
No. 93 Turner Motorsport BMW M3: Bill Auberlen, Paul Dalla Lana, Michael Marsal, Dirk Mueller, Jorg Mueller
Originally, this car had Dirk Mueller, Jorg Mueller and Dirk Werner on board. Team owner Will Turner either got confused himself or came to his senses about having three similarly named German drivers sharing the “who's on first” M3. Now, Werner has been switched to the team's sister car, with Auberlen and Dalla Lana joining the remaining three. Those two will be busy as they're entered in both cars.
No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M3: Bill Auberlen, Paul Dalla Lana, Billy Johnson, Boris Said, Dirk Werner
DTM-bound Werner is a late add to this lineup. He's got quality co-drivers in Auberlen and Said – two of BMW's most recognizable pilots – with youngster Billy Johnson and the improving Dalla Lana as the team's gentleman driver. Not an outright favorite, but certainly should be a force to be reckoned with.