With team transporters in the Daytona International Speedway infield and cars in the paddock area, the last minute driver announcements ahead of the start of this weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 open test for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship continued on Thursday. While some teams were bolstered a bit by their revelations, others may have made their quest for victory at the end of the month a little bit tougher. Whilst working hard to avoid over anticipation here’s the latest news that was revealed.
-Amazingly after coming within four points of winning the 2015 IMSA Prototype division Drivers’ Championship, Canadian Michael Valiante is still without a seat for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Valiante, who will race full time in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge championship this year, is not new to the possibility of a last minute deal however, having joined the lineup for Peter Baron’s Starworks Motorsport entry just days before the 2012 event, an event in which Valiante’s entry led the race for several laps. If the Canadian is to find a ride this year, it may not be in the Prototype class as most of the open seats have been claimed at this point.
-Speaking of the Prototype class, Michael Shank Racing has added a fourth driver for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. France’s Olivier Pla, who was confirmed as a driver for the Multimatic-supported Ford GT project in the FIA World Endurance Championship later this year, was announced today to join Oswaldo Negri, Jr., John Pew, and A.J. Allmendinger in the No. 60 Curb Records Honda-powered Ligier coupe. Pla is no stranger to the Onroak-designed challenger. The Frenchmen placed a Judd-powered Ligier entered by Krohn Racing on the pole position for last year’s 12 Hours of Sebring. In addition to Daytona, Pla will serve as the team’s third driver in the other three North American Endurance Cup rounds.
-Starworks Motorsport has finalized their driving teams for the 2016 season. In addition to the drivers announced on the initial Roar entry list, Felix Rosenqvist has been added to the team’s No. 88 Prototype Challenge entry, joining Mark Kvamme, Sean Johnston, and Maro Engel. In addition, Ashley Freiberg will join Kvamme for all of the sprint events in 2016. Freiberg is driving for Turner Motorsport in the GT Daytona class for the Rolex 24. The 88 machine, joins the primary No. 8 car with Renger van der Zande, Alex Popow, Jack Hawksworth, and Chris Cumming handling the driving duties.
-Brent O’Neill’s Performance Tech Motorsports team will feature a father-son duo of sorts in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Dr. Jim Norman, who drove for Park Place Motorsports two years ago at Daytona will join his son Josh, along with Brandon Gdovic and full time IMSA regular James French in the No. 38 Prototype Challenge entry. The three newcomers to Performance Tech all participated in the Super Trofeo series last season.
-Although still putting the final touches on their new Ferrari 488 GTE in Italy, Risi Competizione has confirmed that they have re-signed Giancarlo Fisichella for 2016. This will be the third year that the former Formula One veteran will drive for the Houston-based team. The Italian will co-drive the new challenger with Toni Vilander, who was promoted to full time service after serving as the team’s third driver in the NAEC rounds last year. As reported previously, Risi will not participate in the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test this weekend.
-Scuderia Corsa will be in both the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona divisions in all four North American Endurance Cup races in 2016, but not all of them will be with the new Ferrari 488s. While the new machine will be ready for action in GTLM, the team is expected to enter last year’s Ferrari 458 in GTD for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Other Driver Confirmations on Thursday:
-Park Place Motorsports announced Norbert Siedler as the team’s fourth driver for Daytona, joining team boss Patrick Lindsey, Jorg Bergmeister, and Matt McMurry.
-Magnus Racing has added Audi factory pilot Rene Rast and Marco Seefried for Daytona. Seefried served as the third driver for the Magnus team last season when they ran a Porsche GT America in the GT Daytona class. The team switched to the new Audi R8 LMS during the offseason.
Stay tuned to OnPitRoad.com for further updates from the Roar Before the Rolex 24 tests starting on Friday.