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2016 Rolex 24 car-by-car preview: GTLM

2016 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Roar Daytona Testing

8-10 January, 2016, Daytona Beach, Florida USA 66, Ford, GT, GTLM, Joey Hand, Dirk Muller, Sebastien Bourdais ©2016, Richard Dole LAT Photo USA

©2016, Richard Dole/LAT Photo U

MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno takes a look through the entries for the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona, car-by-car. Here’s a look through the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, with order done by the Roar Before the Rolex 24 times and then second car in team, if applicable:


No. 100 BMW Team RLL
Drivers: Lucas Luhr, John Edwards, Kuno Wittmer, Graham Rahal
Roar Time: 1:45.088 (1)

Outlook: BMW’s GTE variant of the new M6 is a bigger beast compared to the outgoing Z4, but it showed nicely at the Roar test. Daytona has been BMW’s Achilles Heel for years, with top end straight line speed always the weak point. But the goodness is there – Wittmer a welcome addition to the team – and with Rahal (2011 overall) and Luhr (2001 GT) past class winners.

No. 25 BMW Team RLL
Drivers: Bill Auberlen, Dirk Werner, Augusto Farfus, Bruno Spengler
Roar Time: 1:45.120 (3)

Outlook: In truth, this is probably BMW’s stronger of its two GTLM lineups by a fraction of a percent – so not by much. I could see this car as a class win contender; of course, I could say that for basically all the cars in this class!

No. 4 Corvette Racing
Car: Corvette C7.R
Drivers: Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Marcel Fassler
Roar Time: 1:45.106 (2)

Outlook: If any bad luck hits Corvette Racing, it generally seems to hit the No. 4 crew. Gavin and Milner haven’t lost their pace and Audi factory ace-on-loan, Fassler, makes his return to the team after a several-year hiatus.

No. 3 Corvette Racing
Car: Corvette C7.R
Drivers: Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Mike Rockenfeller
Roar Time: 1:45.124 (4)

Outlook: The defending champions of last year have swapped Mike Rockenfeller for Ryan Briscoe and should be consistent, and quick, throughout. Garcia is arguably one of the top GT drivers in the world and will lead this car’s charge.

No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
Car: Ford GT
Drivers: Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller, Sebastien Bourdais
Roar Time: 1:45.248 (5)

Outlook: The symmetry of a Ford with the No. 66 winning 50 years after a Ford GT did overall in 1966 is too rich to ignore. In truth, first race out for the most hyped new car in the field might be a tough one, even given the caliber of people and drivers assembled. A finish is the first goal, a win a bonus.

No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
Car: Ford GT
Drivers: Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe, Stefan Muecke
Roar Time: 1:45.2469 (7)

Outlook: Much like its sister car, the No. 67 Ford has great parts but will have to see how it endures in its first 24-hour race. The bright side, like its sister car, is the Ford EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 engine has been well-developed in the prototype ranks and any of three in this car could maximize its potential.

No. 911 Porsche North America
Car: Porsche 911 RSR
Drivers: Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy, Kevin Estre
Roar Time: 1:45.524 (9)

Outlook: I wouldn’t put too much stock in Porsche’s bottom-of-the-class Roar times. With the lone older car in the class (now in its third year, with upgrades) and a less-than-favorable pre-Roar BoP assessed, the car and its drivers haven’t yet shown their full potential. Pilet, Tandy and Estre are three of the best at the moment and it’d be a bigger surprise if the car doesn’t make strides during race week.

No. 912 Porsche North America
Car: Porsche 911 RSR
Drivers: Earl Bamber, Fred Makowiecki, Michael Christensen
Roar Time: 1:45.543 (10)

Outlook: The No. 912 lineup isn’t far off the No. 911 car. Here’s hoping the Mako of two or three years ago resumes after a tough 2015 season and Christensen lives up to his potential. Right now, Bamber is this car’s best bet.

No. 68 Scuderia Corsa
Car: Ferrari 488 GTE
Drivers: Alessandro Pier Guidi, Alexandre Premat, Daniel Serra, Memo Rojas
Roar Time: 1:45.266 (6)

Outlook: The privateer entry makes the first of four starts in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup with a new car and a newly organized lineup. The Giacomo Mattioli-led team is very strong and in its first GTLM start, doesn’t have a ton of expectations … which is a good thing.

No. 72 SMP Racing
Car: Ferrari 488 GTE
Drivers: Victor Shaitar, Andrea Bertolini, Gianmaria Bruni, James Calado
Roar Time: 1:45.314 (8)

Outlook: Just as SMP’s BR01 Nissan is the top Prototype class sleeper, this car has to be the top GTLM class sleeper. A mostly pro lineup including Bruni, arguably the best GT driver in the world, and a better-than-you-realize Shaitar could deliver success in the Ferrari 488 GTE’s worldwide race debut.

No. 62 Risi Competizione
Car: Ferrari 488 GTE
Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander, Davide Rigon, Olivier Beretta
Roar Time: No time

Outlook: The team’s already in a tight race to make the Rolex 24, with its car build completed in mid-January at Michelotto ahead of a shakedown at Fiorano. Its first real running will be after it arrives Stateside, race week. But the Dave Sims-managed, Giuseppe Risi-led team has always starred in endurance races and has one of the best lineups in class.

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