With the GX class out of the way, we can start to get to the meat and potatoes of this year's Daytona 24 Hours. Now, you could take the obvious route and call the Daytona Prototypes the "meat" and the GT class the "potatoes", but if that's the case, this year's potatoes are definitely dressed up with all manner of butter, sour cream, chives, bacon bits, probably some barbecue brisket and maybe some sparklers for a little flair. Long, tortured metaphor out of the way, let's get to it. As with last year's preview, these odds won't add up, so spare the irate e-mails as to what an incompetent hack bookie I am. Oh, and since there are 36 cars entered, you'll have to forgive me if I don't quite hit every last car. I have a day job I need to sleep for, after all.
#61 R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari Ferrari 458 - This is essentially the team that rolled to last year's GrandAm GT championship. As a brand new car, the Ferraris didn't fare so well at Daytona, though one did score a 1-lap-down 5th in class, but with a full season of development under their belts, AIM Motorsport should have the reliability to back up their pace this year. With last year's GT co-champ Jeff Segal being joined by "Mad" Max Papis and factory Ferrari drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander, this is the car to watch. Odds - 3 to 1.
#23 Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3 - Yeah, yeah. Porsche at Daytona. Yawn. What else ya got? I know, picking a Porsche, and an Alex Job Porsche at that, to run up front is about as exciting/surprising as a plate of steamed broccoli. Well, I like broccoli. And I also like Jeroen Bleekemolen, Damien Faulkner, Marco Holzer and Cooper MacNeil to get the job done. They're a podium lock. Fast enough to beat the Ferraris? Maybe, maybe not, but they'll be there at the end. Odds - 4 to 1.
#24 Audi Sport customer racing/AJR Audi R8 - After a semi-embarrassing debut year where the Audi R8s ran around seconds off the leader pace and finished 31st and 32nd in class, Audi is clearly not screwing around this year. They've returned with five R8s, with multiple Audi factory drivers in attendance. The one to keep an eye on (if you have to pick just one) is the one run by Alex Job Racing, and driven by Dion von Moltke and Audi DTM drivers Felipe Albuquerque, Oliver Jarvis and Edoardo Mortara. Good golly. The only way that lineup is any stronger is if Audi had rolled Walter Rohrl, Hans Stuck, Michele Mouton and Allan McNish out there as well. Odds - 5 to 1.
Just a Step Behind
#69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD with Ferrari Ferrari 458 - Team car to the #61, this one only loses out because of the lack of bespoke Ferrari factory drivers. Because otherwise, the lineup of Emil Assentato, Guy Cosmo, Anthony Lazzaro, Nick Longhi and Mark Wilkins is stout. Odds - 8 to 1.
#66 TRG Porsche GT3 - Yeah, like I was going to leave TRG out of the front group. They are ALWAYS there at the end, as evidenced by their 2nd and 7th places last year. It's just that those top few cars figure to be a tick quicker. Jorg Bergmeister, Dominik Farnbacher, Ben Keating and Kuno Wittmer will see to it that this car runs up front all day and all night. Wait. Why am I putting this nutty good driver lineup down in 5th? No matter. I have my reasons. I think. Odds - 9 to 1.
#59 Brumos Racing Porsche GT3 - Downgraded from semi-prohibitive favorites last year, due to a pretty rocky 2012 campaign, at least by Brumos' lofty standards. Having said that, Leh Keen, Andrew Davis, Marc Lieb, and Bryan Sellers is just about as good as it gets for a Porsche lineup. Well, except for maybe the couple of Porsches I listed above. Odds - 9 to 1.
#13 Audi Sport Customer Racing / Rum Bum Racing Audi R8 - The Audis have gotten faster from last year. This car has Audi factory guys Markus Winklehock and Frank Biela. That's a quick combo. Odds - 10 to 1.
#44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 - Essentially last year's returning Daytona 24 Hours winning squad. Why down this far? Only because I think a couple of the teams above (Brumos, TRG) had some bad breaks last year, a couple of the teams/cars (the Ferraris, the Audis) have vastly improved, and Magnus feels like they could be in for a bad break or two after last year's nearly flawless run. Odds - 10 to 1.
#67 TRG Porsche GT3 - Emmanuel Collard and Romain Dumas are the very fast Porsche factory guys. Nic Jonsson is the other very fast guy. Tracy Krohn is the rich (but still pretty fast) guy. They're one very fast guy short. Odds - 10 to 1.
#93 Turner Motorsports BMW M3 - The BMWs are always pretty quick, even though they are essentially a sedan running against supercars. Will they last, though? If they do, this is the faster one, with the ever present (and fast) Bill Auberlen, Michael Marsal, Gunter Schaldach and BMW factory drivers Maxime Martin and Andy Priaulx. Odds - 12 to 1.
Not Gonna Happen This Year
#03 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari 458 - The Ferrari is fast. Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek are proven winners. The rest of the driver lineup are not. Odds - 15 to 1.
#51 & #52 Audi Sport Customer Racing / APR Motorsport LTD UK Audi R8s - APR ran an R8 for a good chunk of 2012, with little success. This crew will likely have some more good runs later in the year, but I have a hard time believing these cars will be able to keep up with the group above. Odds - 20 to 1 (both).
#57 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro - Last year's championship runners up have returned with the lone Camaro left in the field. The Camaro is a brick. Daytona does not like bricks. Especially when there are so many other cars which will be faster. Odds - 25 to 1.
#63 & #64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458s - Have I mentioned that the Ferraris are fast? Yes? OK, have I mentioned that there are Ferrari lineups that I trust more than a bunch of semi-obscure Italians and semi-obscure Brazilians (plus Rafa Matos)? No? OK. Now I have. Odds - 25 to 1 (both).
Yeah, any preview that only touches on 16 of the 36 entered cars could be called "incomplete", "inadequate", or just plain lazy (especially since I didn't even touch the Porsche that Tony Kanaan and Rubens Barrichello are sharing, or the Dodge Viper that's showed up again, or EITHER of Boris Said's rides). Whatever. I don't care. The winner is coming from those 16 cars above. Odds - 50 to 1.
Once again, your GT class odds. 100% accurate or your money back.