***IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTP class team owners assembled for a group press conference in the Daytona International Speedway media center on Saturday morning (pictured above) prior to the start of the 61st Rolex 24 and category’s debut. Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske, Wayne Taylor, Michael Andretti, Bobby Rahal, Bob Johnson and Mike Shank were all present.
***Ganassi said of the prototype convergence: “When the people in the United States and France were able to get together on the rules, for a common standard, all of us in the industry thought, ‘Wow, this is going to be great.’ It’s something we’ve known for a couple of years was coming. For it to now be on the doorstep of the first race of this formula, the excitement is obvious.”
***Penske added: “I think it’s important for the manufacturers that are supporting us to see the interest. I think when you see the quality of the drivers, not only domestically but internationally, it makes a big difference. We’re going to reach a bigger population of a standpoint from sports car racing.”
***Winward Racing’s replacement Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo will not undertake a hardship lap before the race according to the team. Driver Russell Ward told Sportscar365 that the No. 57 machine, which was scrambled in from Texas after a Practice 1 accident, will be ready to take the 1:40 p.m. ET green flag.
***Porsche Penske Motorsport managing director Jonathan Diuguid believes any sort of significant issue that GTP teams suffer in the race will be “game over” for competitors. “We’ve got nine GTP cars here and four pretty successful manufacturers in racing,” he said. “One of them is going to get it right.”
***Diuguid said it would take “over an hour” to replace the spec motor generator unit (MGU) in the car due to the safety protocols and checklists involved, while the time to change the single-supply battery being “quite similar.”
***As part of a change in the hybrid GTP era, IMSA is now measuring fuel capacity as part of total energy consumed, taking into account the energy produced by the electric motor. For Daytona, cars are limited to a maximum energy of 920 MJ per stint, with a 23 MJ per second energy replenishment rate during pit stops.
***This equates to a 40-second energy replenishment time for a full load, compared to last year’s Rolex 24 when the full-tank refueling time was 30 seconds. Cars are subject to penalties if they exceed the maximum energy in a stint.
***It hasn’t yet been decided if Dane Cameron and Michael Christensen will be Porsche Penske’s third drivers for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring according to Diuguid, with the two drivers having been brought in this weekend due to having the “most experience” with the Porsche 963.
***Diuguid, however, confirmed the team will utilize two of its full-season WEC drivers for Sebring, which will be pulling double duty between the two enduros. “All of the guys we’ve talked to feel fairly confident that they’re able to do that without any issues,” he said.
***NASCAR’s Garage 56 Le Mans project is represented at Chevrolet’s stand in the infield, where the modified Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 test car is on public display. The car will be taking part in a two-day test at Daytona beginning on Tuesday, which will mark Jensen Button’s first laps.
***The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R that was unveiled at Daytona yesterday is chassis No. 1 that has been used in the track testing program, according to GM’s assistant sports car racing program manager Christie Bagne.
***Ford, meanwhile, could “potentially” unveil its new-for-2024 Mustang GT4 at Sebring in March according to Ford Performance global motorsports director Mark Rushbrook. “We’re looking at all of our options at this point,” he told Sportscar365. “Does that still make sense or are there better places to do it?”
***Lamborghini’s deliveries of its updated Huracan GT3 EVO2 kit are underway in Europe, according to head of motorsport Giorgio Sanna. “The priority was to deliver the cars in Daytona,” he told Sportscar365. “But we have already started to deliver the kit to the ‘reference’ European teams. By the end of February [they] will have the car ready to test in Europe.”
***IMSA would be open to a LMH manufacturer entering the WeatherTech Championship mid-season if it meets the sanctioning body’s commercial and technical criteria according to IMSA technical director Matt Kurdock. “We just need enough notice from a LMH manufacturer to be able to schedule the aerodynamic evaluation and all of the analysis that is associated with it,” he told Sportscar365.
***BMW unveiled the new M3 CS road car in the brand activation area at Daytona on Friday. Fransiscus van Meel, the CEO of BMW’s M brand, led the presentation.
***Andreas Roos is attending his first Rolex 24 as the head of BMW M Motorsport, after assuming the position on Feb. 1 last year. Roos said that he has been to the event a couple of times previously in a prior Audi Sport role.
***Roos also told Sportscar365 that some Team WRT personnel are at Daytona this weekend “looking at what we are doing and helping” ahead of their factory FIA World Endurance Championship entry next year. The two GTP cars are entirely run by BMW M Team RLL staff.
***WeatherTech took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal this week in celebration of WeatherTech Racing’s GTD Pro class pole, while also providing tune-in details to the race with QR code.
***Coverage of the Rolex 24 begins at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC and will move to USA Network from 2:30-8 p.m. and then will be exclusively on Peacock and IMSA.TV from 8-10 p.m. Coverage will return to USA Network from 10 p.m. to midnight and then move to Peacock/IMSA.TV until 6 a.m. From 6 a.m. until noon on Sunday, coverage will be available on USA Network. The conclusion of the Rolex 24 will run from noon through 2 p.m. on NBC.
***Peacock, as well as IMSA Radio, will have full flag-to-flag coverage of the race for those not wanting to channel surf. Coverage will also be available on IMSA.tv for international audiences.
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report