2013 24 Hours of Daytona Preview
It is one of the classic 24 hour races and of those the one with the longest night: The 24 hours of Daytona. The racetrack rose from the sands of Daytona Beach in 1959 and a 3 hour race was created, initially part of what would eventually become the World Sportscar Championship, three years later. The race was lengthened twice until ended up as 24 hour race since 1966. The race is historically counted as leg of the informal Triple Crown of automobile endurance racing. Unlike the Triple Crown of automobile racing (sometimes referred to as Grand Slam), which only features Graham Hill, the Triple Crown was won by twelve drivers already. Hurley Haywood and Al Holbert managed both to win each race of the Triple Crown at least twice. The last driver to complete the Triple Crown was Timo Bernhard in 2010 with his win at the 24 hours of Le Mans.
A modern definition of the Triple Crown would feature the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta instead of the 24 hours of Daytona, as 1981 was the last year the race was part of the World Sportscar Championship calender and the distance between Daytona and Le Mans increased over the following years,. After years of co-ruling the race the IMSA GT Championship kept the race on their schedule until it folded in 1997. After two races under SCAA US Road Racing Championship sanction, Grand-Am’s Rolex Sports Car Series gave the race its current home. The other classic 24 hour races, Spa, Nürburgring and Le Mans, saw years where they didn’t belong to any championship or racing series.
Photo: Phil Diaz
This year’s edition marks the end of an era. In 2014 Le Mans rules based cars will return to Daytona Beach as consequence of the IMSA/Grand-Am merger. Moreover the GX class is debuting with three Mazda6 and three Porsche Cayman. Marino Franchitti will drive the #70 Mazdaspeed diesel-engined Mazda6.
As in recent years, the GT class attracts many racers of international fame. Three Audi R8 Grand-Am are entered by Audi Sport Customer Racing with three Audi factory or at least factory affiliated drivers and one Grand-Am regular on each of the cars including FIA GT1 World Champion Markus Winkelhock and three-time Le Mans winner Frank Biela on the #13 car, Porsche Carrera dominator René Rast and the other FIA GT1 World Champion Marc Basseng on the #52 car or the “DTM R8”, the #24 with Filipe Albuquerque, Oliver Jarvis and Edoardo Mortara. A fourth Audi Sport Customer Racing car appears on the entry list, but yet without drivers. AF Corse/Waltrip appears twice on the entry list with the #55 and #56 but with identical line-ups featuring a Ferrari 458, Rui Aguas, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer, team co-owner and NASCAR veteran Michael Waltrip and Robert Kauffman. Another high caliber line-up is entered by the #81 R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Racing with former Formula 1 drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and “Mad Max” Massimiliano Papis, two time FIA GT GT2 class champion Toni Vilander and reigning Rolex Sports Car Series GT champion Jeff Segal. His teammate and co-champion is lined up on the #69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD. Last year’s GT 24 hour race winner Magnus Racing enters two cars this year, with three of the four winning drivers of 2012 in the #44 car. Andy Lally, Richard Lietz and John Potter are joined by Nicolas Armindo in their Porsche GT3 this year. Many more names can be listed here. Nearly every car in the 36 car strong GT field has one driver of international fame.
Not only the GT class can bring some spectecular names into the race. The 17 Daytona Prototypes feature some very interesting combinations. For Starworks former Le Mans rivals team up in the #2 Riley-Ford: Audi Prototype pilot Allan McNish and Peugeot’s local hero Sebastien Bourdais. 8 Star Motorsport also uses Le Mans experience: Toyota’s Anthony Davidson and Stephane Sarrazin and Peugeot’s Nicolas Minassian and Pedro Lamy. Venezuelan Enzo Potolicchio also returns to the #3 Corvette DP. Action Express Racing speaks Portuguese: Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, Felipe Nasr and Nelson Piquet Jr, three Brazilians and a Portuguese. In their #9 Corvette DP Mike Rockenfeller additionally puts his hands on the wheel. Indy Car Series Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay drives for Velocity and Chevrolet factory drivers Oliver Gavin and Richard Westbrook take seat for Spirit of Daytona Racing, both in Corvette DPs. The reigning DP champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas are teaming up with Indy Car drivers Scott Dixon and Charlie Kimball and NASCAR race winner Juan Pablo Montoya. The second car of Chip Ganassi Racing features former Daytona 500 winner Jaime McMurry, BMW factory driver Joey Hand and the other Franchitti brother, reigning Indy 500 Winner Dario. Michael Shank Racing was last year a surprise winner. AJ Allmendinger, Oswaldo Negri Jr, John Pew and Justin Wilson are joined by NASCAR’s two-time V8 Supercar champion Marcos Ambrose to achieve the next win.
Link to the full entry list.
In comparison to former editions, this race will see some changes in its coverage: SPEED delivers for the first time race flag-to-flag coverage (Saturday 20:00 UTC-Sunday 21:00 UTC) with SPEED.com providing the night coverage (04:00-14:00 UTC) with the voices of Motor Racing Network (MRN) using the onboard cameras. Radio Le Mans will not do any coverage, nor will the race be shown on Eurosport. MotorsTV however will simulcast the parts of the race SPEED shows on television.
If you want to shorten the time until the Green Flag flies on Saturday, Grand-Am uploaded a 45 minute appetizer.
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