Saturday, January 28, 2017

2017 Daytona 24hr preview: Prototype

Mazda Motorsports 70: Hinch is here. Quite some star power outside of Jeff Gordon. They have the same chassis as the #55 Mazda and Visit Florida. We expect reliability issues.

Mazda Motorsports 55: Fast drivers, but we have begun to question their race craft, and pit wall decisions. The chassis remains to be proven.

VisitFlorida Racing: Very good crew, but we're just not sold on the Riley P2 car. Given the suspension troubles they had at the roar there could be more gremlins waiting to be exposed by the race.

PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports: On pace alone there's no way they finish ahead of the 3 teams we have placed them above. But we believe having a Ligier places them above the Riley chassied teams. We believe those teams will have lengthy delays back in the paddock. To make the most of other's misfortunes, RC Enerson and especially Tom Kimber-Smith have to log some serious time behind the wheel.

DragonSpeed: This car wouldn't be here without Henrik Hedman deciding to come. But without him in the car we would have ranked them higher. However he is bringing some show stoppers with him. They came to win. The practice crash has also dampened their expectations and torpedoed their ranking. The car might still not be 100%. But what a lineup still.

Tequila Patron ESM 22: Ed Brown has to drive 2 hrs in the race to be eligible for points, and most of the attention will be focused on their #2 car. But it's still the Oak operation with Bruno Senna and Brendon Hartley in tow.

JDC-Miller Motorsports: A very good crew for the Prototype Challenge class. They could have won Daytona again in LMPC with this crew. But this is the main class now, so the pool runs deeper. Aside from Mathis Beche they all border on being barely "gold drivers" or "super silvers".

Wayne Taylor Racing: Being second the past 2 years is getting old for them. But we don't have good news. Having two guys looking forward to retirement isn't the best recipe to win this race. We assume Max Angeleli will get the last couple stints for a final hooray. But it really should be Jordan Taylor.

Whelen Engineering Racing: The sheer presence of Mike Conway here will push Dane Cameron to try to reach for higher limits of perfection and speed. Dane Cameron has done well for himself, but Conway has achieved some of the things Cameron once dreamed of, while coming up the ranks. Seb Morris can be fast but he has a lot of adapting to do.

Tequila Patron ESM 2: This is Oak racing making the strategy calls here. They have proven to be very adept at making strategy calls, and have the confidence of having won the race last year. Let's see if the Nissan engine is as good as the Honda. We don't believe so, but they will make the most of it.

Mustang Sampling Racing: Ever since Dane Cameron joined the #5 sister car in 2015, a fascinating intra mural scrap has added flavor to the top class, and has only been settled with the winner carrying the championship home. Last year Barbosa and Fittipaldi seemed to be giving up hundredths or thousandths of seconds to the #5 car whenever Dane Cameron was driving; but we believe their steady lineup and camaraderie between the drivers can take them far...barring any issues encountered during the test days.

Rebellion Racing: They have a full pro lineup, and are endurance race specialists. Having stood against giants like Audi, Toyota, and Porsche, nothing will rattle them. They came with full respect for the race by bringing in the best drivers available to them, and making their intentions clear. They feel they're the best and have layed down their cards.

2017 Daytona 24hr preview: GT Lemans

BMW Team RLL 24: Fast but new lineup at Daytona

BMW Team RLL 19: They have the edge over their teammates, but that's not saying much. They still do not beat the rest of the cars.

Corvette Racing 3: We simply like the #4 car's lineup better. All fast guys but that really doesn't always win the big races.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing 66: They won LeMans, but Joey hand as the "franchise player", they were expected to outdo Westbrook and Briscoe in the other car.

Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK 68: Given that Mucke and Pla are in the prime of their careers we were rather shocked to see them outmatched by and aging warrior like Priaulx and a young gun like Tinknell,  in the later half of the WEC season. In our opinion they're both making the most of being in the prime of their careers with extra curricular activities. Too much freelancing for other teams can be distracting.

Porsche GT Team 911: Much testing, but it's still a new car among other proven cars by other manufacturers who can spend just as much.

Risi Competizione: Pressure, pressure. The Petit Lemans victory was a much needed gust of fresh air. But expectations are still high. As the only single car team some options on race strategies are simply not available to them, and even a speed advantage won't be enough to regularly be a threat for victory.

Corvette Racing 4: The perfect lineup for endurance racing. Fairly fast and well experienced.

Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK 69; Tony Kanaan might disrupt the chemistry a little bit, or bring something new. But they outclassed their highly touted teammates in the WEC after LeMans.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing 67: In our humble opinion this is the speediest and bravest of all in Chip Ganassi's stable. In Daytona's customary last stint dash to the flag, there's not many we would pick ahead of Scott Dixon, and Richard Westbrook.

2017 24hr of Daytona preview: Prototype Challenge

BAR1 Motorsports 20: They have Gustavo Yacaman, but it's more of a discovery mission for a few of them.

Performance Tech Motorsports: It's a bland lineup. No known name. Which pretty much sums up the last year for this class.

BAR1 Motorsports 26: Johnny Mowlem out of retirement for one last hurrah, or is it to stay?

Starworks Motorsport 8: With Sean Rayhall and Connor Daly in this car. It's a heavy favorite as far as the lineup is concerned. But last minute line up are not the best for endurance racing. There's one little caveat: Conor Daly has a penchant for crashing PC cars. Unfortunately with the nature of the Daytona road course, we can see this happening. So they can win it by 5 laps over everybody or be out at the 23hr mark. Hero to zero.

Starworks Motorsport 8: We can see why Ben Keating is in this car. They can win it, baring an unexpected occurrence. But for Ben Keating he simply has to not be last or next to last to get a podium finish. So nice gamble to ran in 2 cars. But even those are part of the event in racing. But they should have the pace over everyone.

2017 Daytona 24hr preview: GTD


Change Racing: This car has a healthy dose of big time sponsor decals on it sides. So it is rather surprising they do not have...lets say, a Spencer Pumpelly do lead the charge.

DAC Motorsports: Zach Claman is the only one who can keep any sort of pace with the leaders. Even then he is out of his element in a sports car, much less a 4hr race. But it's a nice step in a possible future carer direction for him.

Konrad Motorsport: A solid globe trotting squad, but mainly here for the exquisite experience.

Manthey Racing: In Europe they're Porsche's dedicated factory team in various championships. Here however they're running a GT3 car for a customer. Secretely they would like to finish ahead of all Porsche teams especially Core autosport's GTLM entry. Despite their supreme expertise with Porsche vehicles their lineup might not quite allow much beyond a respectable race. But Sven Muller will dice it up with anyone that tries to get by.

Stevenson Motorsports: Nice team, nice lineup. But the driving squad is built on camaraderie rather than performance.

SunEnergy1 Racing: Last year they took refuge in one of Stevenson's Audis, and beat the Stevenson lineup. We're not sure having their own squad will be as effective as Stevenson's crew, but as long as Tristan Vautier is doing the lion's share of the driving again, they'll have pace when they need it. Oui, oui.

Alegra Motorsports: They have Michael Christenssen from Porsche factory driver fame, but all the Porsches have a factory driver, and all the big players have their own factory drivers as well. But Daniel Morad the in-house hot-shoe can make a difference.

Dream Racing Motorsport: Despite the Lamborghini Huracan's sultry looks, and prowess and high speed circuits, it hasn't quite set the Weathertech championship ablaze. But we have a more cheerful prognosis for the other 3 remaining Huracans.

Spirit of Race: Just as Manthey is here running a car for a customer this team is actually AF Corse running a 488 GT3 for Peter Mann.

Park Place Motorsports: Patrick Lindsay and Matt mcMurry are the perfect example of Silver rated drivers. This car will chug along at a steady pace. If Super Silvers or Sneaky Silvers did not exist they would be ranked higher.

CORE Autosport: Their titles and accomplishments in Prototype Challenge suggests they should be ranked higher. And their intimate bond with the Porsche brand gives them intimate knowledge of the car. but The owner is used to being the slowest thing on track.

Turner Motorsport: They're planning to win it, but endurance races aren't usually kind to last minute crews. And we personally do not think the M6 has the nimbleness of the cars.

TRG: the dark horse of the race. They have been out for a year, but have come back with a solid lineup. Their Porsche expertise is unquestioned, they could spring a surprise.

Alex Job Racing: Rescue project for Alex Job. But there has to be a reason no one is signing up with such a storied group. Others are getting...gasp...better?

Riley Motorsports - Team AMG: This would have been higher ranked i it were not for the main man Ben Keating also running in Prototype Challenge, and Jeroen Bleekemolen also being listed in te Weathertech car. The lineup in the PC car in which Mr Keating is to drive is where his real chance of victory lies. They're simply running for points here. But with some factory backing this is still a threat for a podium.

GRT Grasser Racing Team 61: They share 2 drivers with their sister #11 car but we think that car has a slight edge with 1 less amateur.

GRT Grasser Racing Team 11: Ezequiel makes the difference for us. here.

3GT Racing 15: We do not have much faith in Paul Gentilozzi's squad because we felt they underperformed in Prototype Challenge, and they fumbled that Jaguar GT2 project years back. But it's a new era now.

Scuderia Corsa: A heavy favorite to win it. But let's see how the drivers handle the pressure of being among the elites contenders.

Paul Miller Racing: We think this is the best Lamborghini crew. Not because of speed, but because of its steady lineup and proven stability.

Michael Shank Racing 93: They could be there at the end but reliability can be an issue.

Michael Shank Racing 86; The presence of Jeff Segal and Hunter Reay here makes us give them the nod over the sister car.

Montaplast by Land-Motorsport: Even the team's livery hints at their speed, because they're all fast here. It's just that the teams above them have drivers, and crews who have more intimate knowledge of Daytona.

3GT Racing 14: only because Scott Pruett is here. There's esoteric knowledge of the race in this car.

Aston Martin Racing: Well balanced squad and very experienced

Riley Motorsports - WeatherTech Racing: The combination of the drivers, team, and car says to us they have the overall best package. But anything can happen.