DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The three-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona test session has become a motorsports tradition for more than a decade, annually signifying the start of a new year and the beginning of the professional motorsports season.
In recent years, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has established a similar — albeit unintentional — tradition, matching the number of entries with the corresponding number of Rolex 24 At Daytona events.
In 2015, for the 53rd running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, 53 cars participated. Last year’s field included 54 cars for the 54th Rolex 24 At Daytona.
For the 2017 Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona — which is mandatory for participants in the 55th Rolex 24 — 55 cars have been entered for the test on Jan. 6-8 on the 3.56-mile Daytona Int’l Speedway road course.
“We could not be more proud of the field that has been assembled for both the Roar and the 55th Rolex 24 At Daytona,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “It is truly an honor to welcome our longstanding manufacturers, drivers and teams back to the WeatherTech Championship in 2017, while at the same time celebrating the arrival of several new manufacturers, race cars and competitors. This weekend’s Roar Before The Rolex 24 will offer a sneak preview for what will be a historic season in 2017.”
This weekend kicks off a bold new era for North American Prototype racing, and also features the debut of many new GT race cars. Leading the way will be brand-new Daytona Prototype international and LM P2 race cars in the Prototype class.
Among the top Prototype class participants will be 2016 WeatherTech Championship Prototype champions Eric Curran, Dane Cameron and the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi. Curran and Cameron will be joined by Seb Morris and Mike Conway in the No. 31, while their teammates, two-time Prototype champions Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi will share the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi with Portuguese racer Filipe Albuquerque.
After winning the 2016 Rolex 24 and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, Tequila Patrón ESM returns to full-time WeatherTech Championship competition in 2017 with a two-car Nissan DPi program.
Sharing the team’s No. 2 entry will be Scott Sharp and Pipo Derani — both part of the Daytona- and Sebring-winning driver lineup — along with Scotland’s Ryan Dalziel, who drove the 2016 WeatherTech Championship for Visit Florida Racing while contesting the FIA World Endurance Championship with Tequila Patrón ESM. The team’s No. 22 Nissan DPi will be shared by Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Bruno Senna and 2015 WEC LM P1 champion Brendon Hartley.
Another entry sure to attract attention will be the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi from Wayne Taylor Racing to be shared by full-time co-drivers Jordan and Ricky Taylor, along with endurance regular Max Angelelli and four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon. The 2017 Rolex 24 marks Gordon’s second appearance in the twice-around-the-clock race and first since 2007, when he co-drove with Angelelli, Wayne Taylor and Jan Magnussen to a third-place finish.
Also making its competition debut at the Roar will be a pair of Mazda DPi entries from Mazda Motorsports. Tristan Nunez, Jonathan Bomarito and Spencer Pigot are entered in the team’s No. 55 Mazda/Castrol/ModSpace entry, while Tom Long and Joel Miller will share the team’s No. 70 entry with IndyCar star and recent “Dancing With The Stars” runner-up James Hinchcliffe.