2024 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona competitors get a shakedown run
Daytona International Speedway is crackling with the sound of race cars this week—more than 40 of them, here for a sanctioned IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship test that will help set the field for the 2024 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona endurance race in January.
Besides a chance for drivers and teams to knock the rust off, it’s an opportunity for IMSA officials to get a look at some new entries that are just now breaking cover in a public setting. Those new cars include the Lamborghini SC63 Grand Touring Prototype car (GTP), the Ford Mustang GT3 and the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R, as well as cars that have undergone some changes like the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo and the Porsche 963 GTP cars.
The Lamborghini, the only all-new entry in the GTP class, won’t debut at the Rolex 24 but will race in March’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. It’s running in this pre-season test to give IMSA a required look at the car. But IMSA had to look quick—the Lambo was the fastest GTP car through Thursday testing, the only day when every class was allowed onto the track.
The underlying purpose of the four-day test is to help set parameters for the 2024 “Balance of Performance” adjustments. The BoP is IMSA’s way of leveling the playing field in a roster of cars that are front- and rear-engine, normally aspirated and turbocharged. The idea is to slow down the faster cars in a class and speed up the slower ones by mandating adjustments like making the cars heavier or lighter, restricting engine air flow and fuel tank size, and tweaking aerodynamics.
This seems especially important in the GT Daytona and GTD Pro classes (those are the cars constructed from road-going counterparts—the more extreme, from-the-ground-up cars are Prototypes, like the GTP and Le Mans Prototype 2 racers). At least one car from each manufacturer in the GTD and GTD Pro classes (the Pro class can use all professional drivers, while the GTD class must have an amateur component) is required to participate in a special Saturday session, which is specifically intended to gather information for the BoP.
Missing this time around are the LMP3 cars, smaller Prototypes that use a common V-8 engine. That class, which will continue to compete in support races, has helped fill out the lineup for the last couple of years, while the new-for-2023 GTP cars, and the newly reconstituted LMP2 class, grew in numbers. Some of the LMP3 competitors, such as the dominant Riley/74 Ranch Resort team, are taking the opportunity to move up to LMP2.
With the exception of the Lamborghini GTP car, everyone will be back January 19–21 for the mandatory Roar Before the Rolex test, including a few cars that didn’t make it down for this event, such as a pair of Corvettes that will be fielded by a customer team from Canada. This is the first time Chevrolet has marketed the IMSA Corvette to customers, something Ford is also doing with its new Mustang GT3, setting up the classic Ford-vs.-Chevy battle—along with BMW, Lexus, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Mercedes AMG, Acura, McLaren, and Porsche.
The 2024 Rolex 24 is scheduled for January 27–28, with a start time of 1:35 p.m. For more information, click here.