Friday, January 24, 2020

2020 Daytona 24 Hours - GTD Class Preview

We have made it to our last class preview for the 2020 Daytona 24 Hours: the GTD class. Yeah, this has settled into my "least interesting class (to me)" several times over the last 4-5 years, but with more than double the car count of the next highest class, and with fully NINE manufacturers involved, you can bet your bottom dollar that we'll have something interesting to watch in this class, all the way down to the wire. So, how are they going to stack up after 24 hours?

18th Place - Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R

These guys are just scrambling to get into the race, after writing their car off in practice and having to get a new car from rivals Wright Racing. If they make it off the grid and make some laps at speed on Saturday afternoon, that'll effectively be a "win" for them, at this point.

17th Place - Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3

A brand new car, with a team that just started running it. A relatively straightforward pick for what's essentially "first team out".

16th Place - #47 Precision Performance Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3

A team that added two of the drivers from the scratched Rick Ware Racing LMP2 car earlier this week (so, essentially, at the last second), and not a single driver above a Silver rating in the lineup.

15th Place - #44 GRT Magnus Lamborghini Huracan GT3

My favorite team on the GTD grid, but it seems like something always bites them. Throw in that this is a new car to all of the team's drivers, and it feels like this could be a problem filled 24 hours...

14th Place - #12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC-F GT3

Maybe it's because I'm basically throwing together my previews at the last second this year, having barely even looked at practice and qualifying results, but it feels like things are stacked against me this year. And, maybe because I'm projecting, it feels like things may be stacked against my favorite teams. Sorry, guys.

13th Place - #74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3

I'll call this "The Curse of the Ghost of Scott Tucker", which will befall the two cars that are being driven in part by Ben Keating.

12th Place - #96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3

I think that Bill Auberlen (a loooooonnnnngggtime Speedgeek favorite, dating back to my early days of watching IMSA in the early '90s, back before he hooked up with BMW and was driving Mazdas for his family's team) will win a record breaking 61st career IMSA race (hi to Scott Pruett's family at home), but I don't think it'll be Daytona.

11th Place - #98 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3

Of the two Astons in the race, this is the "pro" car, with Platinum rated factory driver Pedro Lamy. However, a brand new car to IMSA and Daytona. Not likely.

10th Place - #19 GEAR Racing Powered by GRT Grasser Lamborghini Huracan GT3

The two full time drivers (Katherine Legge and Christina Nielsen) both have plenty of experience here, but the other two drivers (Silver rated Tatiana Calderon and Rahel Frey) don't. Maybe not a great recipe to be sitting in the top-5 come Sunday afternoon, but I'll be rooting for them all the same.

9th Place - #14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC-F GT3

Or, as most folks will know this car this weekend, "the car that Kyle Busch is in". I think this car will run in the top-5 in the 4-6 Hour bracket of the race, only to hit troubles with another car or damaged bodywork from somebody going off course...but it won't be Kyle that does it. In any case, I don't see them winning.

8th Place - #88 WRT Speedstar Audi Sport Audi R8 LMS GT3

The lone remaining Audi in the field will probably find tough sledding on pace, but will probably still finish all but of a couple laps and wind up right in the middle of the pack. You know, where the Audis mostly spent all of 2019.

7th Place - #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3

More often than not, I feel like this team hits some sort of calamity. 24 hours is a long time to avoid calamities...

6th Place - #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R

A new-ish team to IMSA will have a great run, but will wind up just shy of the top-5. Bummer. I like Pat Long.

5th Place - #57 Heinricher Racing w/MSR Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3

It'd be crazy if both of the MSR Acuras contended for the win, right? I definitely think that one of them will be in the "winning camera shot", but I do think the other one will either be on the tail end of the lead lap or just a lap behind. I'm picking this one to be the one that's just behind at the end. Don't ask me why.

4th Place - #48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3

The Lambos are almost always really, really quick at Daytona. I don't think this year will be any different, but I do think there'll be just one on the podium. And this one will JUST miss the podium.

3rd Place - #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R

At the beginning of last season, a good number of us (or maybe it was just me) knew this car as "the Canadian Porsche that's wearing lumberjack clothes". Then, they ran up front a bunch at the end of the year. Now, they can wrap the car however they want, and we've gotta take them seriously. Which is good, because I like it when cars with amusing paint schemes run up front.

2nd Place - #11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3

Like I said above, the Lambos always seem to like the high banks and long straights at Daytona. I just think that instead of the GTD defending champs, it's somebody else's year this year...

1st Place - #86 Meyer Shank Racing w/Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3

This just feels like a "Mike Shank" kind of year. I think that Mike gets to match his IndyCar team going full time with a Rolex for winning this weekend.

OK, thanks for coming by for my class previews. We'll see everybody tomorrow for the race...and Blogathon!

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