By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
The largest class at the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, GT Daytona (GTD) has 21 entries with no shortage of talent in GT3 machinery. The pro-am class mixes many seasoned endurance veterans with gentleman drivers looking to make their mark at the World Center of Racing. Let’s look at the GTD grid by manufacturer.
The Lamborghini Huracan GT3 cars were devilishly quick at the Roar before the 24 and they have three cars at the Rolex 24 entered by GRT Grasser (two cars) and Paul Miller Racing. Mirko Bortolotti and Bryan Sellers are the heavy hitters for Lamborghini as the Italian brand is looking for their first class victory at the opening race on the American motorsports calendar.
Two cars from 3GT Racing sum up Lexus’s involvement with Scott Pruett, Bruno Junqueira and Jack Hawksworth being three notable drivers for the team. This will be Pruett’s final Rolex 24 before he hangs up his helmet.
The LMP1 dominators, Audi have two cars representing the German marque entered by Montaplast by Land Motorsport and Magnus Racing. Magnus Racing has two aces in the hole with Markus Winkelhock and Andy Lally and could be contenders. Audi won the GTD class in 2016 and the GT class in 2013.
Three cars will have the Mercedes star in the 50 car field. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports, P1 Motorsports and SunEnergy1 Racing representing them. Jeroen Bleekemolen and Maro Engel are the big name drivers driving the Mercedes hoping to earn Mercedes’s first ever win at the Rolex 24.
Ferrari has four 488 GT3 machines on the grid with Spirit of Race and Risi Competizione entering one car each while Scuderia Corsa has a pair of cars on the grid. Pedro Lamy, Jeff Segal, Sam Bird, Townsend Bell and Miguel Molina are some of the drivers that will highlight the Ferrari presence in GTD. Scuderia Corsa are sleepers for the class win since they’ve won the last two GTD class championships in the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship.
It wouldn’t be a GT class at an endurance race without a Porsche or two, or in this case three cars. Wright Motorsports, Manthey Racing and Park Place Motorsports are the entrants with factory drivers Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister highlighting a driver lineup that also includes Christina Nielsen, two time GTD class champion with Scuderia Corsa.
The Acura NSX GT3 has three spots on the grid with HART entering one car and Michael Shank Racing entering the other two. Dinner extraordinaire Ryan Eversley, Sean Rayhall, Katherine Legge, AJ Allmendinger and Lawson Aschenbach will be among the drivers trying to bring Acura their first win at Daytona.
Turner Motorsport will be competing with a BMW M6 GT3 car in the sole BMW entry in the GTD class. Martin Tomczyk and Jens Klingmann are the professional drivers in the lineup.
Picking a winner is not easy since Audi has a good GT3 car, but Lamborghini had the fastest cars at the Roar Before the 24.
If Lamborghini can get everything together, they’ll be the cars to beat.