By Mark Robinson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) field for the 2021 Rolex 24 At Daytona has been bolstered by a pair of driver announcements involving DragonSpeed, the two-time defending Rolex 24 class champion, and Era Motorsport, which made a successful LMP2 debut this year in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Eric Lux, who became the youngest finisher in Rolex 24 history at age 16 in 2005, has been named one of the drivers for the DragonSpeed entry in January’s race. Lux, the 2011 American Le Mans Series PC champion, has six career IMSA wins, including two in 2019 LMP2 competition with PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports. Now 32, Lux is eager to join the DragonSpeed team run by Elton Julian.
"2021 marks my 18th season competing in sports cars and my 11th Rolex 24," Lux said. "I’ve nearly won there on several occasions, and for it to become a reality you need the right team, the right car and the right teammates. I’ve known Elton as a teammate, team owner and friend over the past 10 years and watched the team’s combination of pace and strategy win the Rolex 24 last year. I have complete confidence in Elton and his crew to put together the strongest program out there."
The remaining drivers for the DragonSpeed entry will be named later to join Lux, now a Bronze-rated driver, in a new ORECA 07 LMP2.
"Eric’s reclassification as a Bronze gives us one of the best in the category," said Julian. "We’re really looking forward to supporting Eric’s bid for his first win at Daytona and looking to bring a group of drivers to the package that can help deliver on that. We’ll have the same crew that was behind our success the last two years at Daytona, so we’re excited to see if we can make it three in a row."
Era Motorsport, meanwhile, will look to improve upon its third-place LMP2 2020 finish at the Rolex 24 with team owner Kyle Tilley and Dwight Merriman returning to drive the No. 18 ORECA, joined by team newcomers Ryan Dalziel and Paul-Loup Chatin.
In addition to the third-place showing with co-drivers Ryan Lewis and Nic Minassian at the Rolex 24, Tilley and Merriman logged three more podium finishes in the team’s rookie WeatherTech Championship season to wind up fifth in the LMP2 point standings.
"I’m delighted we get another crack at the Rolex 24 At Daytona," said Tilley. "Era Motorsport are going all out to win the LMP2 class. Collectively, the team has learned a lot since last January, and I think we have a strong shot at it. Ryan Dalziel and Paul-Loup Chatin are both drivers that I know well and trust to get the job done. They’re great additions to our team."
Dalziel has nine career IMSA wins, including the overall victory at the Rolex 24 in 2010. He drove in a pair of LMP2 races this year for Tower Motorsport by Starworks.
"I’m absolutely ecstatic about joining Era Motorsport," Dalziel said. "I was really impressed watching their first IMSA season in 2020. I can tell, between Kyle and Dwight, they are putting everything into making this program as strong as possible, and I’m humbled to have been invited to be part of this journey. My last few seasons in IMSA haven’t gone to plan, so I’m extremely grateful to these guys for having the confidence in me to help guide this ship with them."
Chatin has two championships in the European Le Mans Series and has piloted an ORECA in the past three 24 Hours of Le Mans races, finishing sixth in class this year with IDEC Sport, the team that Tilley and Merriman joined for the French endurance event.
"I am really happy to join Era for the iconic Rolex 24 At Daytona," said Chatin. "I was lucky to meet and work with Kyle and Dwight at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans, and I am sure that all together we will be able to fight for the top in LMP2 class. I am really excited to participate in my first IMSA race, and I will do my best to honor the faith they put in me."
The 2021 WeatherTech Championship season begins Jan. 22-24 with The Roar Before the Rolex 24 test in preparation for the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 30-31.