Friday, January 29, 2021

2021 Daytona 24 Hours - GTD Class Preview

We've made it! Our last class to preview this year is the perennial favorite (or, at least my favorite class for the last couple years): GTD. The reasons for that: 1) the most cars (19, nearly double that of the next biggest class), 2) the most manufacturers (nine, fully TRIPLE that of the next most manufacturers in any class). Who cares if it's the slowest class, when you've got a field like that? OK, let's get to it.

The Little-Hopers

#42 NTE Sport Audi R8 LMS GT3 - As much as I hate to relegate the car that has one of my personal favorite drivers in it (that would be J.R. Hildebrand, who really should have a full time gig somewhere), he's the only driver rated above Silver. And J.R. has never raced this car or on this track. A win is not gonna happen for these guys. Odds - 100 to 1.


#75 Sun Energy 1 Mercedes-AMG GT3 - The Sun Energy Mercedes has done this race several times before, but has yet to get anywhere near the podium at the end of 24 hours. And 2021 won't be any different. I wouldn't be surprised to see them up near the top-5 in the closing hours (likely with the rapid Raffaele Marciello or Luca Stolz behind the wheel), but a win would be very, very hard to imagine. Odds - 100 to 1.


#64 Team TGM Porsche 911 GT3R - The verdict comes down to this summary: two Silvers, two Bronzes. Odds - 100 to 1.


#57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 - It's Maro Engel (a really quick Platinum) and three Silvers. Nope. Odds - 100 to 1.


The Peloton

#44 Magnus with Archangel Acura NSX GT3 - My favorite team (well, tied for favorite, with the Vasser-Sullivan Lexus team), but they've got a new team association this year and a new car. That is a combination that rarely adds up to "win in the first time out". Odds - 75 to 1.


#16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R - Usually, a Porsche with Patrick Long and Jan Heylen behind the wheel would be one of my favorites, but these guys are working with an all-new car after their first one was damaged beyond repair in the run up to the Roar Before. I think that in a field as stout as this one, that's the sort of thing that'll essentially eliminate you from winning contention. Alas... Odds - 30 to 1.


#21 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 - Plain and simple: the Ferraris haven't looked quick enough. Odds - 25 to 1.


#63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 - See above. Odds - 25 to 1.


#97 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 - The Astons look a little quicker than the Ferraris this month, but I am predicting that they'll lack just a tick worth of pace when things get down to brass tacks on Sunday afternoon. Odds - 20 to 1.


#23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 - See above. Odds - 20 to 1.


#28 Alegra Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 - I'd rank this team higher if they were running their typical Porsche entry, but they've switched to the Mercedes-AMG this year. Maybe this will be the magic combination for them and Maxi Buhk and Billy Johnson can carry them to a win, but I just don't see it. Odds - 17 to 1.


#88 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3R - Notable for carrying factory Porsche driver Earl Bamber and GTD stalwarts Katherine Legge and Christina Nielsen, but something tells me that they're going to lack just the last little bit of pace that'll allow them to contend for the win. This said, I think they've got a great chance at a top-5, and possibly even a podium. But everything would need to fall right for the win. Odds - 17 to 1.


The Pointy End of the Grid

 #19 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - I've heard that the Lambo teams say that they're struggling for pace this year, but seeing as how one of them finished 3rd in the Roar Before Pole 100, I think we're going to see more of the same as past years, with multiple Lambos running near, and even at, the front. Odds - 14 to 1.


#111 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - See above. Odds - 14 to 1.


#96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 - Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley wheeled the #96 Turner BMW to the win in the Roar Before Pole 100, but they seemed pretty sure in the post-race interview that other teams are sandbagging. I guess we'll see, but I think they're going to be right near the front for all 24 hours. Odds - 12 to 1.


#12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 - The Lexuses put on quite a display for most of the season last year, with Jack Hawksworth and Aaron Telitz (shout out, WHAT'S UP, BIRCHWOOD, WI?) sweeping through the middle of the season in the #14 and nearly winning the championship after a rough start to the season. I think the Lexuses will be right at the front again for most of the season, and I think they'll take the GTD title. A Daytona win? Yeah, maybe one of those, too. Odds - 10 to 1.


#14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 - See above. Odds - 10 to 1.


#9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R - This team is always quick with Zacharie Robichon, Lars Kern and Matt Campbell behind the wheel, but then they went and added Porsche factory driver Laurens Vanthoor. Holy smokes. This has got to be one of the pre-race favorites (and they're starting 2nd after finishing just a couple seconds behind the Turner BMW in the Roar Before Pole 100). Odds - 8 to 1.


#1 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - The defending champs, and if somebody else wants the win, it goes through the Paul Miller Racing Lambo. Yeah, yeah, they're starting almost last after dropping out of the Roar Before Pole 100, but this is about executing over 24 hours. This team has proven they can do exactly that. Odds - 7 to 1.


Whew. Just in the nick of time. OK, it's time to do some prep for my All Racing Fantasy Draft that takes place tomorrow morning, and then I'll see all of you in the afternoon at Daytona! Thanks for coming by!

No comments: