***All 47 cars taking part in this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, as well as IMSA chairman Jim France, IMSA President Scott Atherton and IMSA CEO Ed Bennett, assembled for the annual group photo on Wednesday morning, in the kickoff to its 50th anniversary celebrations. This year’s field features one of the most diverse yet, with 13 manufacturers represented between the DPi, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes.
***The final TBA driver on the entry list has been sorted, with Ricardo Feller confirmed in the No. 29 Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS Evo. The 18-year-old Swiss, who had previously tested with the team at Daytona, was not listed on the entry due to clerical reasons, according to team principal Christian Land.
***Current and prospective IMSA prototype manufacturers and constructors met Wednesday for a round of talks regarding the 2022 regulations. It’s understood the WeatherTech Championship is unlikely to adopt the FIA and ACO’s new ‘Hypercar’ platform, with IMSA allegedly open to either an all-new platform or potential evolution of the current DPi formula.
***One of the major talking points is understood to have been hybridization, and the likely adoption of a cost-effective ERS solution for the next-gen ruleset.
***James French, who is not part of Performance Tech Motorsports’ lineup this weekend, is likely to return for the balance of the LMP2 season according to team principal Brent O’Neill, who indicated that he’s working to reunite French and Kyle Masson in the No. 38 Oreca 07 Gibson. Cameron Cassels is slated to be the third driver for the Michelin Endurance Cup races.
***O’Neill told Sportscar365 the team remains committed to the WeatherTech Championship, with no current plans to switch to the European Le Mans Series, as reported elsewhere.
***A third LMP2 car appears set to join the grid later this season. Sportscar365 understands that an announcement, from an established IMSA team, could be made as early as next week.
***IMSA announced Tuesday a new partnership with Global Medical Response (GMR) to expand the capabilities of IMSA’s medical support staff. Under a multi-year agreement, GMR’s ground ambulance business, American Medical Response (AMR), will be the Official Emergency Medical Services partner of the WeatherTech Championship, Michelin Pilot Challenge and Prototype Challenge.
***Porsche has sold nine of its all-new 911 GT3 Rs to North American customers so far, with Park Place Motorsports and Pfaff Motorsports set for season-long GTD efforts, alongside the Black Swan Racing entry, which is for the Michelin Pilot Challenge races only.
***Sportscar365 understands that six of the 2019-spec Porsches will go to teams in Blancpain GT World Challenge America competition this year, in what appears to be a resurgence in GT3 car counts for the SRO Motorsports America-run series, which could reach 20 cars in the new-look extended sprint championship.
***Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s drivers and mechanics have been growing out mustaches in line with the historic liveries donning the Nos. 66 and 67 Ford GTs this weekend.
***Will Owen says he is now “fully focused on IMSA” and is unlikely to return to the European Le Mans Series for a third year. “It’s possible to do both,” Owen told Sportscar365. “But it’s more just approaching one team and bringing everything to one team is more valuable at this point that going between two.”
***Owen described his two years in the ELMS with United Autosports as invaluable to his move to the Juncos DPi program: “Now I feel comfortable and ready to do that because you get to go wheel-to-wheel with the best in the world. It’s essentially the only reason I could even possibly be standing here now is because of the last couple of years with United.”
***IMSA President Scott Atherton says they’re “right there” in terms of maximum capacity for the rounds at Mid-Ohio and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, which is likely to see upwards of 40 entries.
***Atherton said there are some “creative solutions” that could come into play as to how IMSA configures the pit lane, hinting towards a potential compromise to allow additional entries, if needed. “We’ll work closely with at least those two promoters,” he told Sportscar365. “As we speak today, we’re OK, but it’s right there.”
***It appears unlikely that LMP2 cars would be dropped from the events to free up space, with teams currently having zero indication that the possibility could occur.
***Former Extreme Speed Motorsports team co-owner/driver Ed Brown, who retired as Patron Spirits President and CEO last month, has become chairman of ClearSports, a golf ball company. His appointment was made on Jan. 1.
***The No. 57 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo of Katherine Legge, Simona de Silvestro, Bia Figueiredo and Christina Nielsen will become the first all-female driver lineup to compete in the Rolex 24 since 1994, when Linda Pobst, Kat Teasdale, Margy Eatwell, Tami Rai Busby and Leigh O’Brien co-drove a Chevy Camaro in the GTS class.
***The book “IMSA 1969-1989” co-authored by Mark Raffauf and Mitch Bishop, the son of former IMSA President John, is set to be released on Saturday. Both Bishop and Raffauf will be on hand throughout the weekend to sign the first copies of the book detailing the inside story of the sanctioning body’s early years.
***Hurley Haywood returned to the wheel of his 1979 IMSA championship-winning Porsche 935 for a photo shoot alongside the Brumos-liveried No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR that was revealed Wednesday morning.
***Ten cars with historic liveries are set to take part in the Rolex 24, marking nearly one-fourth of the starting field.
***A number of historically significant cars will be on display inside UNOH Fanzone near the FPL Solar Patio. Cars featured include sports cars from 1960 to 2014 that raced in the Rolex 24, with a strong focus on cars from the various prototype eras. On Saturday morning, the participating cars will turn several demonstration laps and a parade lap around a portion of the road course.
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report