The 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship makes its debut this weekend (Jan. 8-10) at Daytona International Speedway with a 54-car field entered for the three-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona test event.
The multiple sessions – which are open to the public – will feature the debut of many new WeatherTech Championship race cars, particularly in the series’ two GT classes. The GT Daytona (GTD) class features the most entries, with 22, followed by 13 Prototypes, 11 GT Le Mans (GTLM) entries and eight Prototype Challenge (PC) cars.
“We are extremely proud of this entry list for the Roar Before The Rolex 24, which foreshadows the entries for the Rolex 24 At Daytona later this month,” said IMSA CEO Ed Bennett. “These entries represent a great balance of quality and quantity across all four of our classes and will make for fantastic racing when we kick off the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on Jan. 30-31. We are pleased to welcome so many world class drivers, teams and manufacturer brands back to Daytona.”
Defending Rolex 24 At Daytona champions Ford Chip Ganassi Racing also will return with a pair of entries in the Prototype class, including the No. 02 Ford EcoBoost/Riley DP to be shared by defending race winners Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson.
However, the two Prototypes represent only half of a highly anticipated four-car entry from Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, as the team also will publicly debut its two Ford GT race cars in the GTLM class. Joining the Ford GT among new race cars in the class will be a pair BMW M6 GTLM race cars from BMW Team RLL and two new Ferrari 488s – one from Scuderia Corsa and the other from SMP Racing.
The new Ford, BMW and Ferrari machines all will be turbocharged and will face stiff competition in GTLM from two venerable manufacturer-supported teams in Corvette Racing and Porsche North America. Corvette Racing returns with a pair of Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs which combined to win three crown jewels of endurance sports car racing in 2015, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In addition to featuring the most entries, the GTD class also will showcase the most new cars following a shift to full FIA GT3 technical regulations in 2016 for its seven manufacturers. Six of those manufacturers – Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Porsche and Dodge – competed in the class last year, although all will introduce new or updated models for GTD competition this year.
Three days of testing for the WeatherTech Championship get underway Friday morning at 10:15 a.m. ET with the first of eight scheduled sessions through Sunday afternoon. Live Timing & Scoring data from every on-track session will be available on IMSA.com.