***All 61 cars that are scheduled to take part in the Rolex 24 at Daytona are set for action in this weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24. Teams unloaded Thursday morning at Daytona International Speedway to prepare for the two-day test and Sunday’s 100-minute qualifying race to set the grid for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener.
***Michelin Le Mans Cup driver Antoine Doquin has completed the lineup in Forty7 Motorsports’ Duqueine D08 Nissan, alongside the previously confirmed Mark Kvamme, Austin McCusker and Trenton Estep in the LMP3 class.
***While the current pre-event entry list for the Roar still features a number of TBAs, it’s largely down to administrative reasons dealing with drivers’ licensing. The entry list for the Rolex 24, which was released on Wednesday, features a more representative driver list.
***Starworks Motorsport team owner Peter Baron will be calling strategy on the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi.V-R for the season. The move comes as Baron has taken a step back from LMP2 squad Tower Motorsport, which he previously ran but still provides equipment and logistical support.
***It’s understood that Renger van der Zande, who won the Prototype Challenge class title with Starworks in 2016, put the suggestion in for CGR to recruit Baron to the No. 01 crew.
***TR3 Racing, which is making its WeatherTech Championship debut, is hoping to extend its GTD Pro involvement to also include the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The Florida-based team is fielding a pair of entries for the Rolex 24, including a Lamborghini in GTD.
***Longtime Lamborghini chief technical officer Maurizio Reggiani has been appointed the Vice President of Motorsport in a newly created position within the Italian manufacturer. Reggiani has been replaced by Rouven Mohr as the company’s CTO.
***Lamborghini is known to be working on a possible LMDh program that could debut as early as 2024.
***Proton Competition is running its first non-Porsche in the team’s history. The German squad is fielding two WeatherTech-backed Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos in addition to its season-long Porsche 911 GT3 R in GTD Pro.
***The No. 15 Mercedes, which was a late addition to the field, is being supported by crew from Multimatic, in a similar setup seen at last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans when Multimatic crew assisted Proton’s No. 99 Porsche 911 RSR-19 in GTE-Am. Proton also runs its U.S. operations out of Multimatic’s shop in North Carolina.
***Multimatic-contracted driver Dirk Mueller is part of the lineup in the No. 15 car, alongside Austin Cindric and Patrick Assenheimer, who is the owner of the chassis. Cindric also holds links to Multimatic through his father, Tim Cindric of Team Penske, which will be campaigning Multimatic-chassied Porsche LMDh cars in 2023.
***The late nature of its entry, which was only finalized earlier this month, means that the No. 15 Mercedes is separated from the two other Proton-run entries in the garage area. The No. 97 Mercedes is one of its three chassis that it previously owned during its 2017 campaign with Riley Motorsports and has since been upgraded to Evo specification.
***Cooper MacNeil and Porsche factory driver Julien Andlauer are confirmed as full season drivers in the team’s Porsche 911 GT3 R, also in GTD Pro. MacNeil told Sportscar365 that there are no plans to run the Mercedes in any additional races this season.
***More than a dozen drivers are fresh from competing in last weekend’s Hankook 24H Dubai including Maro Engel, Jules Gounon, Luca Stolz, Mikael Grenier, Alex Riberas, Roman De Angelis, Ian James, Nick Yelloly, Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen, Matteo Cairoli, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Jon Miller, George Kurtz and Kenny Habul.
***Engel, Gounon, Grenier and Habul finished third overall in their SPS Automotive Performance-run SunEnergy1 Mercedes, which saw the U.S.-based Australian Habul celebrate with a camel ride to the podium.
***The Heart of Racing, meanwhile, scored a runner-up finish in the GT4 class with James, De Angelis, Riberas and Gray Newell at the wheel of an Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
***Josh Pierson is set to become the youngest driver to compete in the WeatherTech Championship at the age of 15. The PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports driver has received a “one-time waiver” from IMSA due to “preexisting licensing circumstances beyond IMSA’s control” according to a statement from the sanctioning body.
***Pierson, who will turn 16 on Feb. 14, will become the youngest starter in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as part of his full-time FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 program with United Autosports this year. He is also confirmed with the Bobby Oergel-led PR1/Mathiasen squad for the Michelin Endurance Cup races in the No. 11 Oreca 07 Gibson.
***Most of BMW’s factory drivers are bidding farewell to motorsport director Mike Krack, who is transferring to the Aston Martin Formula 1 team. The exception is Yelloly, who will continue to work for Krack as part of his Aston Martin F1 simulator duties. “It’s funny,” he enthused, “that he’s leaving being my boss somewhere and is still my boss somewhere else!”
***Inception Racing’s McLaren 720S GT3 is the same chassis that was involved in the multi-car accident at Motul Petit Le Mans two months ago according to team manager Bas Leinders. The Optimum Motorsport-run outfit found Petit to be a useful experience ahead of its first full-time IMSA bid.
“Definitely because for the drivers to get used to the format of IMSA, the way the races are run, the cautions and wave-by,” Leinders told Sportscar365. “And for us as a team, you can watch all the races and try to have a feel of the engineering and strategy, but if you do it yourself it’s a lot better.”
***IMSA and Michelin have introduced tire usage requirements for all classes, including negative camber values in GTD Pro and GTD. The new operational requirements, which outline minimum cold and/or hot pressures and/or stabilized pressures, will be enforced by in-race penalties if teams are found to be running outside of the permitted parameters.
***Teams will be given a warning/reprimand on first violation followed by a drive-through penalty for the second violation and a stop-and-hold plus ten-second penalty for subsequent violations. Additionally, a penalty assessed in qualifying may result in qualifying times being disallowed and an unserved penalty or penalty assessed post-race will be added to the car’s race finishing time and may include a lap count penalty.
***Team Hardpoint has undergone its second rebranding in the last six months, with the organization now known simply as ‘Hardpoint.’ The name is a nod to team owner/driver Rob Ferriol’s military background and refers to the strongest part of the aircraft where weapons, engines and other payloads are mounted.
***Team Penske tested its Oreca 07 Gibson car at Sebring International Raceway this week, in preparation for its FIA World Endurance Championship debut. Newly minted Porsche factory drivers Dane Cameron and Felipe Nasr were part of the testing squad in the LMP2 entry, which the team is utilizing as prep for its factory Porsche LMDh effort next year.
***BMW confirmed on Wednesday its lineup of 19 factory drivers, with no major changes apart from the previously announced departures of Martin Tomczyk and Maxi Gunther. The factory roster includes Nicky Catsburg, who coincidently will be racing against the pair of factory Team RLL-run BMW M4 GT3s in his No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R at the Rolex 24.
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report