Tuesday, January 22, 2019

2019 Daytona 24 Hours - GTLM Class Preview

We have returned to our 2019 Daytona 24 Hours class previews! Today's installment will cover GTLM, in my order of "least interesting (to me)" to "most interesting (to me)". Again, just like last year, this is math based. GTLM - nine cars. GTD - 23 cars. GTLM - five manufacturers. GTD - seven manufacturers. GTD takes the "more interesting" crown, even while being the slowest of the four classes racing. Let's get to the breakdown:

The Backmarkers/Frontrunners

#25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE - The "Big M8s" are back this year, and by the end of 2018, they were clearly sorted out and actually won two of the last three races of the season. Can they win at Daytona. Sure! Odds - 8 to 1.

#24 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE - This car goes in the more prestigious later spot in the rundown, because of the presence of one Alessandro Zanardi. Racing for the first time in a car without his prosthetic legs, it's gonna be awe inspiring to see him mixing it up with the rest of the factory big boys. This is one of the top two or three storylines at Daytona this year. Odds - 8 to 1.

#4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R - The 'Vettes are no longer the newest cars on the grid, and now actually rank as the oldest models in GTLM (holy cow, it feels like two years ago that the C7.Rs were the freshest new thing out there). And while they may lack some of the ultimate speed that most of the rest of the class has (they only won one race between them last year), you know that they're gonna execute and run as flawless a race as can be expected (which is how they wound up 3rd and 4th at Daytona last year, even if they had no answer for the Ford GTs). They'll have at least one car on or around the lead lap with an hour to go. Odds - 8 to 1.

#3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R - See above. Odds - 8 to 1.

#62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE - The Risi guys only run partial seasons nowadays, but they're usually a factor when they do run. And they're back with their usual crew of Ferrari factory chosen hotshoes. They'll run with the lead pack, for sure. Odds - 8 to 1.

#912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR -  The Porsches were a little bit "feast or famine" last year, but they did manage to combine for three wins out of 11 races. And given their strong end to 2018, with a 2nd at Laguna Seca and a win at Petit Le Mans, I'd imagine that they'll be in the hunt at Daytona, as well. Odds - 8 to 1.

#911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR - See above. Odds - 8 to 1.

#66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT - The GTs were basically untouchable at Daytona last year, finishing 1-2. And while they did also win four of the next seven races as well, the Balance of Performance seemed to blunt their speed at the last three races, where they couldn't manage a single podium finish. That being said, the GTs are very low drag, and Daytona is about as low drag a track as you can find this side of Le Mans. They're gonna get at least one car on the podium again this year, I can just about guarantee. Odds - 8 to 1.

#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT - See above. Odds - 8 to 1.

Just like last year, the eagle eyed (or just simply "not yet asleep") among you will have noted that I COPPED OUT AGAIN! Look, this is a tight class, with everybody basically covered by a cocktail napkin at the Roar Before test, and all makes looking capable of putting a more trouble free race than their competitors and taking the win. This is as much of a toss up as I thought last year was (although the Ford GTs obviously had some pace in hand on race day). And, hey, was I wrong last year? The car that I thought had the best odds (or, at least tied for best odds) did win!

Come on back later in the week for our GTD and DPi class previews. Maybe I'll actually pick a favorite in those classes (but don't hold your breath)!

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