Kamui Kobayashi says that traffic management will be the most important learning aspect of his Rolex 24 at Daytona debut.
The Toyota LMP1 factory driver, who has never raced in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition before, is driving the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R this weekend with Renger van der Zande, Jordan Taylor and Fernando Alonso.
Kobayashi told Sportscar365 that while the 3.5-mile Daytona infield course was early to get accustomed to, the race will pose a markedly different challenge.
“I think driving the DPi car at Daytona, the track is pretty much as good as I expected,” said Kobayashi.
“This Daytona circuit has not many corners so to learn is not really hard. But to learn this race, the 24 hours, I think traffic management, I think overall this is where I need to learn the most things.
“I think it is quite a rewarding track, the speed is pretty good, and when overtaking the GT cars we are not that much different [in] speed. I think it’s quite a different speed [in the] dry, but when we are on the wet it is quite similar.
“So it’s not really hard [to learn]. But I think how you manage the race is a different story.”
Kobayashi added that having the presence of fellow Toyota driver Alonso in the lineup has helped him get used to the 5.5-liter V8 Cadillac DPi.
Although they are sharing a race car for the first time this weekend, Kobayashi explained that they regularly share inputs on the Toyota TS050 Hybrid in testing.
“I think to know [Alonso] already, we can give advice to the team about his driving style or my driving style because we know [each other] well,” he said.
“I think in terms of measurements and other things, I think we can do these quite easy with the experience coming from two drivers coming in together.”
WTR Has “Good Chance to Win”
Kobayashi also believes the team has a strong chance for the win with its lineup of two seasoned IMSA drivers and the pair Toyota LMP1 stars.
WTR is aiming to repeat its 2017 victory when it won with the Cadillac DPi driven by Jordan Taylor, Ricky Taylor, Max Angelelli and Jeff Gordon.
“For sure it’s going to be hard but we have a good chance to win,” said Kobayashi.
“The driver lineup is very strong and the team has [had] good experiences in the last couple of years.
“I think we have a good chance, that’s why we do as much work and we work to get the maximum. But anything can happen in a 24-hour race so as always we need to be ready for any situation.”