LMP2 team principals Bobby Oergel and Elton Julian said they’re excited at the prospects of this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona which has shown “real growth” in the class.
A series-record ten LMP2 cars are due to take part in this weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 and the race itself, marking a two-fold increase from last year and nearly triple the number of Gibson-powered prototypes on the grid in 2019.
The boosted class grid, which is comprised of several FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series outfits, has come in the second year of a Bronze-rated driver mandate to the class, which PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Oergel believes has been key to its success.
“The class works so well around the world I think all we had to do was stop moving the goal posts here in this country and leaving it alone for at least more than a year,” he told Sportscar365.
“Obviously there’s a lot of cars for Daytona but I think it shows there’s real growth.
“It’s amazing. We couldn’t be more excited to be competing against some of the best in the world. DragonSpeed has been here a few times and have done an awesome job.
“Every strong team hopefully makes us stronger, that’s the way I see it. ”
Julian, whose DragonSpeed squad will be seeking its third consecutive LMP2 class win in the Rolex 24, said the level of passion for sports car racing globally is shown on the entry list.
A number of teams’ including Julian’s Barcelona-based outfit, have had to overcome tightening COVID-19-related travel restrictions to pull off their programs.
“I’m proud of the competitors, to be honest,” Julian told Sportscar365. “I’m not padding myself on the back but collectively, how did we do this?
“Somehow, the gentleman [drivers], the sponsors, enough people wanted to do it. I’m really chuffed. It’s a personal thing for people [to race] and now we have ten [cars]. It’s great.”
When asked how difficult it will be to repeat victory, Julian indicated the level of competition in the class is at an all-time high in the WeatherTech Championship.
“I think we have a good sized target on our back,” he said. “Everyone knows it’s been won by the same team the last two years and some people may say it’s easy to discredit because there wasn’t that many cars. You’ll see this time.”
While one of Julian’s two cars at Daytona is confirmed for the four-round Michelin Endurance Cup, at least three entries, including from PR1/Mathiasen, Tower Motorsport by Starworks and the newly formed WIN Autosport, are set for full-season efforts.
Sportscar365 understands there’s a potential of a fourth full-season entrant as well, which would double the number seen for the majority of 2020.
Technical Changes Expected to Balance Out
Oergel believes the technical changes made to the class for 2021, including a return to ACO-spec for gearing, RPM limits and engine power, will likely make the car “happier” to drive but not necessarily faster.
IMSA teams were restricted to a maximum RPM of 8250 at Daytona last year, and while opened up to 8700 RPM, are now faced with a slightly less powerful engine that is also being used in the WEC, ELMS and Asian Le Mans Series this year.
“I think the engine will like it better because it was built to run at that kind of rev. It will be happier,” Oergel said. “I think the drivers will enjoy it a little more.
“The gear program is probably equally as large as the RPM gain because now we don’t have to run the Le Mans gear stack. That alone with the RPM will help.
“We’ve lost some power but to be fair I don’t think it’s going to be something massive for us in our country because we were already operating at that negative.
“A driver last year coming into this year is going to get more revs, lose a little bit of power but he’s going to have better gears. We’ll find out this weekend how that equates.”