Thursday, January 22, 2015

2015 Daytona 24 Hours - GTLM Preview

We've already handled the slower of the Prototype and GT classes, so now it's time to get busy with the premier GT and Prototype classes. As per normal, I'll be saving the Prototypes for last, as they're the ones running for the overall win and they're the ones who spend the most time on all of our TV (and computer, for those of us who'll be following on and elsewhere) screens. So, today's class is the GTLM class. Minus for the GTLMs this year: car count is down one from last year, having added the Falken Porsche (they skipped Daytona in 2014, as they'd just received their new car) and having lost the factory Dodge/SRT Vipers, while the Krohn Ferrari has been swapped out for the AF Corse Ferrari (Krohn having stepped up to Prototypes). Plus for the GTLMs: every other car returns, and they're all very close in speed. Let's get to it.

The Contenders

#912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR - Jorg Bergmeister, Earl Bamber and Frederic Mackowiecki. All Porsche factory drivers. All fast. And Porsches usually run well at Daytona (the sister car #911 was GTLM class winner last year). Hard to bet against. Odds - 9 to 1.

#911 - Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR - Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet and Marc Lieb. All Porsche factory drivers (an FIA World Endurance Championship P1 driver, in the case of Lieb). All fast. I feel like I've heard this one before. Odds - 9 to 1.

#24 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE - John Edwards, Lucas Luhr, Jens Klingmann and IndyCar driver Graham Rahal. All fast. And while the Z4s weren't the quickest cars in class last year, a relatively trouble-free run for the #55 car brought it home second in class. The Bimmers can't be counted out. Odds - 9 to 1.

#25 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE - Bill Auberlen, Dirk Werner, Augusto Farfus and BMW DTM driver Bruno Spengler. All fast. This car is the defending second place car in class. See above. Odds - 9 to 1.

#17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR - Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellers and Porsche factory driver Patrick Long. All fast. And the Falkens have been magic in the rain (not that there's any rain in the forecast past about noon on Saturday, but still). Could be the magic combination come Sunday morning. Odds - 9 to 1.

#98 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8 - Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana, Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and Mathias Lauda (son of Niki). All fast (Dalla Lana being the slowest by default, as he's the only one who's not really a factory driver, but still plenty fast). And the Aston has been fast in practice and qualifying (third in class in qualifying, to be exact). Could definitely pull off a win. Odds - 9 to 1.

#62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia - Pierre Kaffer, Davide Rigon, Giancarlo Fisichella and Olivier Beretta (the latter two being ex-Formula 1 drivers). All fast. And right on the pace in practice and qualifying (only 0.156 seconds behind second in class in qualifying, though that leaves them sixth out of ten cars in class). It's not a stretch to picture them in Victory Lane on Sunday afternoon. Odds - 9 to 1.

#51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia - Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard, Gianmaria Bruni and Tomi Vilander. All fast. And qualified second in class. Has to be in the frame, right? Odds - 9 to 1.

#3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R - Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and (ex- and maybe future-IndyCar driver) Ryan Briscoe. All fast. And the 'Vette looks like a rocket this year (as it did last year, to be fair). One of the favorites? Odds - 9 to 1.

#4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R - Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and IndyCar driver Simon Pagenaud. All fast. And the car is on the class pole. Enough said. Odds - 9 to 1.

You'll all probably notice that I totally copped out and gave everybody the same odds. I absolutely just can't pick an odds-on favorite out of the GTLM field this year, and I could totally see any of these cars winning. Or breaking in the middle of the night. It's a wide open class, and the fact that if you throw out the draft-assisted pole lap by the #4 Corvette (nearly 0.45 seconds ahead of second in class), the rest of the field is covered by less than a second (second through ninth covered by just 0.635 seconds, in fact). That's basically a dead heat. If I had to, I'd say that one of the Corvettes wins, but putting any of the teams more than a nose ahead of any of the others is completely impossible. All bets are off in GTLM.

Three down, and one to go. Tune in tomorrow for the Prototype class preview!

1 comment:

Pat W said...

Agreed. Hell of a class, all quality.

I can't pick one. Although I'm obviously pulling for Aston Martin, I'm also a big Pagenaud fan so it would be great to see him win in a Corvette.

Actually, after the year they had last year, I'd love for Risi to win.

Imagine if it rains all the way through the race. Michelin & Falken have the best wet tyres. GTLM overall win?