Daytona This Weekend Starts 2022 IMSA Racing Season

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on Daytona Starts 2022 IMSA Sports Car Racing Season

On the Pole is a good start, but there are 24 hours of racing remaining…

The 2022 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season-starting four-hour race at Daytona International Speedway this weekend on January 28 is the warmup act for the next day’s 60th Rolex 24 at Daytona. The longer endurance race starts at 1:40 pm EST on Saturday, January 29, with live coverage.* For the second straight year, five classes will be racing when the green flag drops. Thus far the covid status of drivers and teams appear unaffected, but since this in an international sport with commensurate travel between venues – particularly Covid virus saturated Europe – nothing is certain until the green flag drops. It looks to be Sixty-One Cars and 230-Plus Drivers racing. IMSA media relations hasn’t posted the complete grid as of this writing. (AutoInformed – IMSA Rolex 24 at Daytona – 61 Cars Entered)

First off, let’s start with practice and qualifying that happened last weekend. In DPi – Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque took the Motul Pole Award by winning Sunday’s Rolex 24 Qualifying Race. Their No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 finished ahead of the No. 5 JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac DPi-V.R, giving WTR and its other co-drivers, Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi, the pole for the 60th running of the 24-hour race that starts this Saturday. Cadillac, the reigning IMSA Daytona Prototype international (DPi) Manufacturer Champion, has won the annual season-opening race in four of the five years of the category.

The pole is significant beyond it starting position because this is the second year that points for qualifying count in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Last year, the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R claimed the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) championship over WTR by 11 points – the same margin it gained in qualifying points during the course of the 2021 season. Kamui Kobayashi in the No. 48 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi V.R was third in the DPi class grid with co-drivers Mike Rockenfeller, Jimmie Johnson and Jose Maria Lopez.

In the slightly slower, but no less fierce GTD PRO – Mirko Bortolotti in a Lamborghini worked toward the front, then made a late, race-winning pass to capture GTD PRO class honors, the Motul Pole Award and the right to start first in class at Daytona this weekend. Driving the No. 63 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 after taking over for co-driver Andrea Caldarelli, Bortolotti swept past Alessio Picariello’s No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT3R in Turn 6 with just 14 minutes remaining and held on to win by just 0.475 seconds in a fierce fight to the finish. The TR3 factory-backed team is new to IMSA SportsCar racing. Bortolotti and Caldarelli will team with fellow Lamborghini drivers Marco Mapelli and Rolf Ineichen in the 24-hour race.

The No. 79 Porsche, which crossed the finish line second in class, was assessed a post-race time penalty equivalent to a drive-through for failing to adhere to minimum tire pressures. Even though this isn’t Casablanca, AutoInformed is shocked, shocked to see teams breaking the rules as defined in the Michelin Technical Bulletin for the race. They are seeking advantages, which become just that advantages – if they aren’t caught.

This penalty moved the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Mathieu Jaminet and Felipe Nasr to second in the GTD PRO race. A similar penalty was assessed to the No. 97 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, which had finished fourth. That promoted the sister No. 15 Proton USA Mercedes driven by Dirk Mueller and Austin Cindric to third place in the final results. “The post qualifying race penalties are unfortunate but do not dampen the effort and the quality of the run all three cars had in the race,” MacNeil of WeatherTech** claimed.

GTD was the same old story a fight for love and glory, as Russell Ward and Lucas Auer won the GT Daytona (GTD) portion of Sunday’s race in their No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. They led all but three laps. The No. 57 beat the No. 59 Crucial Motorsports McLaren 720S GT3 by just, ahem, 0.509 seconds, a margin that changed little during the final hour. Ward started second on the grid but quickly went to the front and held position until turning the car over to Auer on the single pit stop. Auer kept No. 59 driver Paul Holton looking at his rear spoiler for the balance of the run.

Ward and Auer will be joined by co-drivers Philip Ellis and Mikael Grenier as Winward attempts to defend its 2021 Rolex 24 GTD victory. Ward and Ellis were part of that win too. Auer is a Rolex 24 rookie. The No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Ryan Hardwick and Jan Heylen finished third but also was assessed a post-race penalty equivalent to a drive-thru for not adhering to minimum tire pressures. It elevated the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 shared by Frankie Montecalvo and Townsend Bell to third place in GTD. Townsend Bell# is not only competitive on the track, but he is the best and most knowledgeable pass-by-pass sports car announcer working for NBC  – when he’s not racing or even between stints.

*Watch on NBC, Peacock and USA

  • Saturday, January 29th, Rolex 24 at 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC), 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET (Peacock), 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. ET (USA), 7 p.m. -10 p.m. ET (Peacock) and 10 p.m. – 3 a.m. ET (USA)
  • Sunday, January 30th, Rolex 24 at 3 a.m. – 6 a.m. ET (Peacock), 6 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET (USA), and 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET (NBC). International viewers can watch all of the races and more from the Rolex 24 weekend live at IMSA.tv.

24 Hours of Le Mans Winners in 2022 Rolex 24 Field as of 27 Jan (40)

  • Nicolas Lapierre (4): LMP2 – 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019
  • Antonio Garcia (3): GT1 – 2008, 2009; GTE Pro – 2011
  • Richard Lietz (3): GT2 – 2007, 2010; GTE Pro – 2013
  • Darren Turner (3): GT1 – 2007, 2008; GTE Pro – 2017
  • Jonathan Adam (2): GTE Pro – 2017; GTE Am – 2020
  • Earl Bamber (2): LMP1/Overall – 2015, 2017
  • James Calado (2): GTE Pro – 2019, 2021
  • Tommy Milner (2): GTE Pro – 2011, 2015
  • Alessandro Pier Guidi (2): GTE Pro – 2019, 2021
  • Mike Rockenfeller (2): GT2 – 2005; LMP1/Overall – 2010
  • Daniel Serra (2): GTE Pro – 2017, 2019
  • Harry Tincknell (2): LMP2 – 2014; GTE Pro – 2020
  • Toni Vilander (2): GTE Pro – 2012, 2014
  • Filipe Albuquerque (1): LMP2 – 2020
  • #Townsend Bell (1): GTE Am – 2016
  • Jeroen Bleekemolen (1): LMP2 – 2008
  • Sebastien Bourdais (1): GTE Pro – 2016
  • Matt Campbell (1): GTE Am – 2018
  • Mike Conway (1): LMH/Overall – 2021
  • Ryan Dalziel (1): LMP2 – 2012
  • Loic Duval (1): LMP1/Overall – 2013
  • Charlie Eastwood (1): GTE Am – 2020
  • Ferdinand Habsburg-Lothringen (1): LMP2 – 2021
  • Phil Hanson (1): LMP2 – 2020
  • Oliver Jarvis (1): LMP2 – 2017
  • Kamui Kobayashi (1): LMH/Overall – 2021
  • Jose Maria Lopez (1): LMH/Overall – 2021
  • Alex Lynn (1): GTE Pro – 2020
  • Maxime Martin (1): GTE Pro – 2020
  • Dirk Mueller (1): GTE Pro – 2016
  • Nicklas Nielsen (1): GTE Am – 2021
  • Alessio Rovera (1): GTE Am – 2021
  • Jeff Segal (1): GTE Am – 2016
  • Guy Smith (1): LMGTP/Overall – 2003
  • Will Stevens (1): GTE Am – 2017
  • Bill Sweedler (1): GTE Am – 2016
  • Nick Tandy (1): LMP1/Overall – 2015
  • Jordan Taylor (1): GTE Pro – 2015
  • Nicki Thiim (1): GTE Am – 2014
  • Laurens Vanthoor (1): GTE Pro – 2018

**WeatherTech Racing Rolex 24 drivers

  • 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R will be Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill), Julien Andlauer (France), Matteo Cairoli (Italy), and Alessio Picariello (Belgium)
  • 97 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill), Maro Engel (Germany), Jules Gounon (France), and Daniel Juncadella (Spain)
  • 15 WeatherTech Racing with Mercedes of Billings (Montana) Mercedes-AMG GT3 Dirk Müller (Germany), Patrick Assenheimer (Germany), and Austin Cindric (Mooresville, N.C.)

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on Daytona Starts 2022 IMSA Sports Car Racing Season

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4 Responses to Daytona This Weekend Starts 2022 IMSA Racing Season

  1. Jeremy Shaw, motorsports writer, commentator and founder of the Team USA Scholarship, was named the 2020 recipient of the RRDC Bob Akin Award. He was honored at the annual Road Racing Drivers Club members’ dinner on January 26, prior to the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. A recipient of the Bob Akin Award was not selected for 2021. The next presentation will be made in 2023 recognizing the 2022 honoree.

    Each recipient of this honor, considered the top prize in motorsports for amateur, vintage/historic or semi-professional drivers, is selected by Akin’s son Bobby, RRDC members Brian Redman and Judy Stropus, and approved by RRDC president Bobby Rahal.

    The trophy was conceived by the RRDC in 2003 to honor the memory of longtime RRDC member and past president Bob Akin, who lost his life following a testing accident in 2002. It was designed by Steuben Glass in Corning, N.Y., and is given to a driver who best exemplifies the extraordinary qualities and characteristics that Akin represented, including a passion for motorsports and automobiles, a high level of sportsmanship and fair play, and who has contributed to the sport of motor racing and the community at large.

    Jeremy Shaw has been writing and commentating about motorsports since the early 1970s, developing a passion in his native England while attending school just a few miles from the Silverstone circuit. He began as a contributor to Motoring News, and, after several years on the staff at Autosport, moved to California in 1985 to be editorial director at On Track Magazine.

    He later branched out into commentary, initially on the Indy Car Radio Network. After the demise of CART/Champ Car in 2008 he joined IMSA Radio.

    Shaw co-authored “Nigel Mansell’s Indy Car Racing” in 1993 and was the editor of the Autocourse Champ Car Yearbook from 1993 until 2006. He continues to provide editorial content for the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires driver development.

    He’s competed in a variety of cars and races since the late 1970s, scoring two wins and a lap record in English saloon car races, a class victory in the Snetterton 24 Hours, and an ice racing class win at Eau Claire, Wis. He also enjoyed success in SCCA Racetruck, Sports 2000, American City Racing League, vintage Formula Ford, and claimed over 50 awards in the “Masters” class in the Pacific F2000 Championship in 2006 and 2008.

    Seeing an opportunity to give back to the sport, Shaw launched the highly acclaimed Team USA Scholarship program in 1990 to assist young American drivers during the early stages of their careers. To date, more than 50 drivers have been Team USA Scholarship recipients, including Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Kyle Kirkwood, Andy Lally and Oliver Askew. The RRDC supports the Team USA Scholarship.

    Although unable to attend the dinner, Shaw was presented the award by Committee Chairman Judy Stropus and a video was shown of Shaw’s acceptance.

    Stropus read comments from Bobby Akin, also not in attendance, during the presentation. “One of my dad’s big things was helping young people. Both in racing, like getting tires at Lime Rock for a young Sam Posey, or his tireless work for Hackley School in Tarrytown, N.Y., where he had attended as a kid and wanted to give others a chance,” said Akin.

    “Our winner exemplifies those traits. He is also a world-class motorsports writer and I had the pleasure of watching him develop as an on-air talent at SPEED Channel.

    “His work with young drivers is the stuff of legend. Many of the talent in this room owe our winner a huge debt of gratitude. The Team USA Scholarship has been bringing some of the best young American drivers to Europe for many years and none of that would have been possible without Jeremy Shaw.

    “As a driver, well, he was modest, but the one thing he can say, which not many can, is that he beat David Hobbs!”

    “Wow, what an honor!,” said Shaw. “Bob Akin was a proper old-school gentleman, someone I always looked up to and enjoyed seeing around the racing paddocks. It’s hard to believe almost 20 years have flown by since his passing.

    “He was truly a class act and even to be mentioned in the same sentence as him means the world to me.

    “I know he would approve of what we have done with the Team USA Scholarship over the past three decades. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to a great many people in the racing community for making it possible and for sustaining it over all these years. It has been a great pleasure to point some very talented youngsters in the right direction.

    “In particular, I would like to thank Bobby Akin, Judy Stropus and Brian Redman for this tremendous honor, and thanks also to the many members of the Road Racing Drivers Club for their continued support and encouragement.”

    Shaw resides in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.

  2. Mike Hull says:

    “Here’s the thing about road racing, especially a 24-hour race. No matter what the conditions become as you race, you chase the racetrack more with a long-distance race than a sprint race. So, what you rely on is the race drivers we have to keep you in the loop on what’s going on the racetrack, and these days we’re afforded with a lot of telemetry, items that help us read the racetrack. It’s all dependent upon ambient temperature, track temperature and the conditions themselves. That’s what is really neat about racing at Daytona for 24 hours, Sebring for 12 hours, if you’re lucky enough to be invited to race at Le Mans, it takes a lot of mentally strength to do it right. That’s what road racing should really be about.”

    Editor – Mike Hull is the Managing Director of Chip Ganassi Racing, which runs the No. 01 V-Performance Academy Cadillac DPi-V.R (Renger van der Zande, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon and Alex Palou) and No. 02 Cadillac Accessories Cadillac DPi-V.R (Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn, Kevin Magnussen and Marcus Ericsson). Hull was speaking to members of the media at Daytona International Speedway.

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