This week as America kicks-off to racing season we’re taking a class-by-class look at the field for the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. Today we’re taking a closer look at the always competitive Prototype or “P”class one of this years key groups to watch.
WINNERS: No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, Sebastien Bourdais
PODIUM: No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP, Jordan Taylor, Ricky Taylor, Max Angelelli, Wayne Taylor, No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, Burt Frisselle, Brian Frisselle, John Martin, Fabien Giroix
POLE: No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP, Alex Gurney
ROAR RECAP: Parity by design was the name of the game, with any of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Riley-Fords, the Action Express and Wayne Taylor Corvette DPs and occasionally the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda topping the timesheets. Bottom line, no team wanted to show too much during the Roar and risk a major Adjustment of Performance tweak. Fortunately, none came.
RACE OUTLOOK: The big surprises of the Roar were the competitiveness of Shank’s new Ligier and the DeltaWing coupe, which as expected, starred in straight-line speed. Either car upsetting the nine DPs entered would still be a surprise, but a top-five if not podium finish is possible if either car was to have a trouble-free race.
WIN CONTENDERS: Armed with the same lineup and no major changes year-on-year, Action Express’ No. 5 figures to have a great shot to repeat. WTR, too, is hungry after consecutive years finishing runner-up. But the CGR pair of Riley-Fords might be suited to return to win contention after a rare off year in 2014, as the Ford EcoBoost V6 turbo is further developed, and Joey Hand represents an upgrade over Memo Rojas in the No. 01 car. I’m tempted to include the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Racing Corvette DP here as well, but the car hasn’t really stood out thus far.
PODIUM SPOILERS: Shank’s Ligier is the standout of the second tier here, and the No. 31 Whelen-backed Corvette DP that features 2014 GT Daytona class champion Dane Cameron could be poised to spring a surprise as well. Krohn Racing too has three very capable drivers in Ligier JS P2 chassis developers Olivier Pla and Alex Brundle, along with Nic Jonsson, Tracy Krohn’s longtime right-hand man. Krohn finished fourth at Sebring last year in GTLM and a top-five here is possible.
THE REST OF THE RUNNERS: The remaining eight cars in class should be shooting for either top-five finishes or, more to the point, finishes overall. That includes the pair of debuting Tequila Patron ESM HPD ARX-04bs, the DeltaWing, the Starworks Motorsport Riley-Dinan BMW, Mazda SKYACTIV-D prototypes and RG and Highway to Help DPs. Starworks, in this group of eight, has the highest ceiling with a go-for-broke driver lineup and could well surprise, while the others seek to avoid trouble.