DAYTONA BEACH, Florida: With 2018 just around the corner, motor sports fans are eagerly awaiting the first race of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the Daytona International Speedway on January 27 to 28.
And as a primer for what could be another exciting opening race for the 2018 IMSA season, the traditional three-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona will be held on January 5-7.
A field of 20 Prototypes and 30 Grand Touring (GT) race cars has been entered for the mandatory three-day test session as teams and a star-studded field of drivers kick their preparations into high gear for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, long considered one of the most prestigious endurance races in the world. It is the 56th rendition of the twice-around-the-clock classic race.
The 2018 Roar test offers race fans their first glimpse at 2018 WeatherTech Championship and IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge machinery, as well as some intriguing new enhancements. The Roar’s first-ever race, the one-hour, 45-minute IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda season-opener will be held on January 6. A WeatherTech Championship qualifying session will determine garage and pit lane allocations for each team in the Rolex 24 field on January 7.
This year’s Roar field includes a pair of 2017 Rolex 24-winning teams, including one with a markedly different driver line-up. While the 2016 GT Le Mans (GTLM) class-winning No. 66 Ford GT from Ford Chip Ganassi Racing features exactly the same driver line-up that won a year ago – Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais – the overall and Prototype class-winning No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team from Wayne Taylor Racing features just one returning driver for 2017, Jordan Taylor, alongside a pair of talented racers in Renger van der Zande and past IndyCar Series champion and Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
The Prototype field will include a total of 10 DPi cars, with four Cadillacs, two Acuras, a pair of Nissan DPis and two Mazdas set to participate. There will be 10 Le Mans Prototype 2 machines as well, including one Ligier LMP 2 from United Autosports that will be driven by Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso.
The GT Le Mans (GTLM) field will feature nine cars, among them the No. 66 machine for the defending race champions as part of a two-car Ford Chip Ganassi Racing program. Defending GTLM series champions Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia also will be in the field in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R alongside their endurance racing co-driver, Mike Rockenfeller, as part of a two-car entry from the team.
The Roar is open to the public for all three days of testing.