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Daytona Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Daytona…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***A total of 55 cars are set for this weekend’s Roar Before the 24, with competitors having spent Thursday unloading and preparing for the three-day pre-season test, which has now become mandatory for all Rolex 24 teams.

***The new-look Prototype class took center stage on Thursday, with the public unveilings of several new cars and liveries, including the Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPis and the Mazda RT24-P liveries. The No. 55 Mazda sports a Soul Red livery, with the No. 70 in Machine Grey, both factory colors from Mazda’s production line.

***Michael Shank Racing’s two Acura NSX GT3s, with liveries designed by Acura Global Creative Director Dave Marek, also broke cover. The No. 86 car turned its first laps in a test at Palm Beach International Raceway earlier this week, with MSR running two cars for the first time, after receiving assistance from RealTime Racing in the two previous Daytona tests.

***James Calado will return to Risi Competizione to complete the team’s lineup for Daytona, alongside the expected full-season pairing of Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella. The trio claimed GT Le Mans class victory in last year’s Petit Le Mans, in Calado’s first appearance with the Houston-based team.

***Spirit of Race has finalized the lineup for its Ferrari 488 GT3, with Ferrari factory driver Davide Rigon, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Maurizio Mediani being joined by Rino Mastronardi and Peter Mann. American driver Mann, a regular in the Blancpain GT Series and other European championships, is set for his final professional sports car race.

***Newly crowned FIA World Endurance Championship GTE-Am champions Emmanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo, meanwhile, have been added to the No. 46 Ebimotors Lamborghini, alongside Fabio Babini and Emanuele Busnelli. The pairing last competed in the race in 2015, in an AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia in the GT Le Mans class.

***BAR1 Motorsports has finalized the fifth driver for its No. 26 Oreca FLM09, with Nick Boulle joining the previously announced Johnny Mowlem, Tom Papadopoulos, Adam Merzon and Trent Hindman. Team owner Brian Alder told Sportscar365 he’s working to extend the No. 26 car to a full-season entry alongside the No. 20 car for Buddy Rice and Don Yount.

***RC Enerson’s role as PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ fourth driver stemmed from a recommendation from driver coach Jonatan Jorge, who put him in touch with team owner Bobby Oergel. “We were talking, going back and forth with things and what we were wanting to accomplish, and he wanted to accomplish the same things,” Enerson told Sportscar365. “It was just a good fit.”

***Enerson, who has not tested with the team, will turn his first laps in the team’s new Ligier JS P217 Gibson on Friday. It will also mark the car’s (chassis No. 4) first laps, as PR1 previously utilized Onroak’s test chassis (chassis No. 1) in testing at Daytona and Sebring.

***The two ESM Nissan Onroak DPis are chassis Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, with the No. 22 car of Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and Bruno Senna set to turn its first laps this weekend. Brendon Hartley, who will complete the lineup in the race, will not be in attendance this weekend.

***Pipo Derani returns to Daytona for the first time since his breakout win in the Rolex 24 with ESM last year. The Brazilian is confirmed for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races in ESM’s No. 2 entry, with an additional program set to be announced next month. “You guys are going to hear some good news pretty soon,” he told Sportscar365. “I can’t say where it is right now.”

***Derani impressed at the wheel of a Toyota TS050 Hybrid in November’s WEC Rookie Test in Bahrain. The Japanese manufacturer is set to announce its driver lineup on Feb. 2, including the likelihood of a third car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and potentially the opening two rounds of the WEC season.

***A number of confirmed Rolex 24 drivers are missing the test this weekend due to the Asian Le Mans Series round in Buriram, Thailand. The list includes Matt McMurry, Corey Lewis, Gustavo Menezes and Alessandro Pier Guidi.

***Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon are set to arrive in Daytona tonight after completing a single-day IndyCar test at Sebring, which saw all four of Ganassi’s Honda-powered entries turn laps. The Roar will mark the Brazilian’s first time in the Ford GT.

Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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