Wednesday, January 23, 2019

2019 Daytona 24 Hours - GTD Class Preview

Welcome back for the class preview for our top GT class for this year, GTD. Once again, GTD takes this title by fact that it has nearly three times as many cars in it as GTLM does, and two extra manufacturers. So, slower, yes, and the mandate of having at least one Bronze/Silver driver per lineup spices things up here, but more fun. Also, with the addition of Michelin tires to this class this year (GTD ran Continentals last year, while GTLM had and still has the Michelins), they're actually not all that much slower than the GTLMs, anyway. Let's get started.

The Not Very Likelys

#13 Via Italia Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 - A Platinum Ferrari factory driver in Andrea Bertolini is a good thing. Underrated Road to Indy driver Victor Franzoni is also a good thing (although this is his first foray at Daytona). The other Silver and Bronze guys that I've never heard of...not great. Odds - 100 to 1.

#46 Ebimotors Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - Fabio Babini is a Gold. The other announced driver is a Bronze. I suppose it's possible that Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen get announced as the other two drivers for this car, but unless that happens, I'm not seeing a winning combo here. Odds - 100 to 1.

#47 Precision Performance Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - A team I'm not familiar with (i.e. I don't think they've run the 24 Hours of Daytona before, unless it was under a different name), plus a couple lesser known Golds, plus a couple Bronzes...nope. Odds - 100 to 1.

#99 NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3-R - Lots of drivers in the lineup (five). Less than half are Gold or better (two, both Golds). Two Bronzes. I don't think so. Odds - 80 to 1.

The More Likelys

#9 PFAFF Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R - Possibly the best livery in the field ("Lumberjack Plaid"), plus half of the driver lineup being Canadian (including the VERY quick Scott Hargrove)...I should be more bullish here, but there's a lot of great competition this year. Odds - 60 to 1.

#14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC-F GT3 - The Vasser/Sullivan part of the team is new to IMSA, but the AIM part is not. Jack Hawksworth is good, and I imagine fellow Gold Nick Cassidy is (I don't know much about him), but the other two drivers are a Bronze and Austin Cindric, who...has a bit of a reputation for bouncing off of things (although he has gotten much, much better than he was a couple years ago). I'm not sure this car can keep it together for 24 hours. Odds - 50 to 1.

#540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R - Not for lack of experience or driving talent (Dirk Werner, Matteo Cairoli and Marco Seefried are a heck of a trio, and Tim Pappas is pretty good for a "gentleman" Bronze), but something always seems to happen to the Black Swan car. I think that's gonna happen again this year, too. Odds - 50 to 1.

#44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - The "clown princes" of the IMSA paddock are back this year with a theoretically quicker car, trading in their Audi for a Lambo. Their driver lineup is as good as it's ever been (Andy Lally, Marco Mapelli and Spencer Pumpelly are all excellent, and John Potter is a capable set of hands as owner/driver). But I have a feeling that they might get bitten by the "new car blues". Odds - 40 to 1.

#19 Moorespeed Audi R8 LMS GT3 - The Audis haven't been great at Daytona the last few years. Perhaps the Balance of Performance has fixed that this year, but I kind of imagine that other cars may have passed up the older Audis. Odds - 40 to 1.

#12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC-F GT3 - The other of the two Lexuses, but this one has Golds Jeff Segal, Townsend Bell, and Silver Frankie Montecalvo...PLUS MY DUDE, Birchwood, Wisconsin's own Aaron Telitz. I'll be pulling for this car (while wearing my autographed Aaron Telitz Racing hat)...although the Lexuses have historically had a hard time at Daytona. They might have a rough time finding the top of the podium, although I think they look great for a top-5 finish. Odds - 30 to 1.

#51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 - The Ferrari should be quick, and all four drivers know what they're doing (all longtime teammates in World Endurance Championship). It's the team name I still can't get over. "Spirit of Race"? That's not a winning name. Odds - 30 to 1.

#73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R - It's hard to put a car that has Patrick Long in it this far down the list...but I just see a LOT of teams with stacked driver lineups this year. Sorry, Pat. Odds - 25 to 1.

#88 WRT Speedstar Audi Sport Audi R8 LMS GT3 - A good driver lineup, but the lead sponsor is "Audi of Canada". And the car has giant maple leaves on both doors. Everybody knows that Canadians are too polite. Is this car going to spend  24 hours saying "pardon...sorry...didn't mean to cut you off, friend..."? That's no way to win a race. Odds - 25 to 1.

#96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 - The Turner BMW M6 hasn't been a solid frontrunner at Daytona for the last few years. The driver lineup is as good as ever (anchored by the incomparable Bill Auberlen), but it's the M6. It won't win. Odds - 25 to 1.

The Contenders

#57 Heinricher Racing w/ Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 - The only four women in the field are all running in the same car. All fantastic talents, and all capable of winning (they've all won races, either in IMSA or on a similar level in other countries), but this is their first race driving together. This car should have easy frontrunning pace, and may (and hopefully will) contend for a podium, but a win? That...feels like a fairy tale. As much as I'd like to see it... Odds - 18 to 1.

#71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 - The Mercedes have struggled for straight line speed in past years, which has made them a bit of a sitting duck on the banking. Will this year be the same? Beats me. But these guys should still be at the sharp end of the field, even if they might struggle to hold a lead down the stretch. Odds - 15 to 1.

#33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 - See above for the #71. But, hey, also, Jeroen Bleekemolen. So, they've got that going for them. Odds - 15 to 1.

#8 Starworks Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 - A pretty outstanding driver lineup (featuring Christopher Haase, Ryan Dalziel and rising star Parker Chase), but it's the mostly unfavored Audi. A win might be slightly too tall of an ask. Odds - 15 to 1.

The Front Runners

#11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - The Lambo is fast, and these guys have run up front at Daytona before. I think they'll be in the hunt for most of the 24 hours. Odds - 12 to 1.

#48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - The defending series champs, in a super fast Lambo. If this car holds together, it'll be on the podium at the end. Odds - 10 to 1.

#63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 - A stacked driver lineup, driving a quick Ferrari. These guys will be up at the front all day. Odds - 10 to 1.

#86 Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb -Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 -  Zero weak links on the driver lineup (when Trent Hindman and Justin Marks are theoretically your "slowest" drivers, then you're looking pretty great), and the Acura is well proven, at this point. Frankly, I'd be shocked if this car doesn't finish right around or on the podium. Odds - 10 to 1.

#29 Montaplast by Land Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 - The team that could/should have won last year, if not for a draconian mid-race penalty for creative fueling. Barring a similar situation this year, this team should absolutely score a podium, if not a class win. Odds - 10 to 1.

OK, so that's three classes down, just one left. And it's the big one! Come on back in the next couple days, and I'll run down the Prototype class. Will I pick a Mazda to win? Or one of the 82 Cadillacs? Come back to find out!

1 comment:

Pat W said...

Great job on limited time. Got to agree with everything you say. It has to be a Lambo, hasn't it? Or that NSX looks good. I'm picking the 48.

The only thing to pull you up on, is Spirit of Race. That's AF Corse under another name, the number 51 is also their WEC number. Though, they seem to use it for the more 'gentleman' drivers which is why I wouldn't bump the car any higher than you've got it. Dalla Lana, Lauda and Lamy have a good thing going - but something always goes wrong for them and I think this year's field is too stout for them.

General recommendation for others: I know NBC is going full beans for their coverage and it'll be the best the race has ever had, but do check in on IMSA Radio from time to time.