The Prototype Classes Are Loaded with Talent and Past Race Winners
By Tony DiZinno
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Anticipation is high for the 61st Rolex 24 At Daytona, which kicks off the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
The debut of nine new hybrid-powered prototypes in the reborn top class of Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) serves as the headliner for a stacked 61-car field set to contest the 61st edition of the January endurance classic.
IMSA.com takes you through each of those 61 cars. The GT classes were featured yesterday. Here are the 28 cars in three prototype classes (nine in GTP, 10 in LMP2, nine in LMP3).
Grand Touring Prototype (GTP)
No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-LMDh
Sebastien Bourdais/Renger van der Zande/Scott Dixon
Chip Ganassi Racing is fielding the Nos. 01 and 02 Cadillacs for another crack at winning its ninth Rolex 24, including a run of three straight from 2006 to 2008.
Bourdais (one overall, one in class), van der Zande (two overall) and Dixon (three overall, one in class) have all won multiple Rolex 24s themselves, but not as a collective unit driving Ganassi’s famous No. 01. Van der Zande is set for his 10th fulltime season of competing in IMSA; he’s won 18 races and one class championship and is one of the most successful prototype drivers of the last decade. Speaking of 10, that’s the number of combined IndyCar championships between Dixon (six) and Bourdais (four) in this car.
No. 02 Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-LMDh
Earl Bamber/Alex Lynn/Richard Westbrook
Ganassi’s second car, the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh, will only race at the Rolex 24 before the car and drivers shift to a full-season FIA World Endurance Championship program. That should provide extra incentive for Bamber, Lynn and Westbrook to secure their first overall Rolex wins, although Westbrook has a GT Le Mans (GTLM) class win co-driving a Ganassi Ford GT with Dixon and Ryan Briscoe in 2018.
No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963
Mathieu Jaminet/Nick Tandy/Dane Cameron
Two of the most famous names in motorsport reunite as Porsche and Penske look for their first overall Rolex 24 wins in well over a decade. Porsche last won here overall in 2010 with a privately built engine fielded by Action Express Racing, while Penske’s lone Rolex 24 overall triumph occurred in 1969 with Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons.
On the driving front, Jaminet and Tandy will share the No. 6 car for the full season with Cameron joining for at least the Rolex 24. Jaminet was at the helm of Pfaff Motorsports’ GTD PRO Porsche that emerged in an epic scrap last year to kick off their title-winning year. After running the FIA World Endurance Championship with Corvette in 2022, Tandy returns both to Porsche and to the IMSA paddock fulltime and looks to add to a class win here in 2014; he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans overall in Porsche’s last top-level prototype, the 919 Hybrid, in 2015. Cameron, a three-time IMSA champion in three classes (2014 GT Daytona, 2016 Prototype, 2019 Daytona Prototype international), looks to add an elusive first Rolex to his collection.
No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963
Matt Campbell/Felipe Nasr/Michael Christensen
The second Penske Porsche features Campbell and Nasr as full-season drivers. They drove together in the 2022 IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup (IMEC) rounds with Pfaff Motorsports, and their GTD PRO win with Jaminet at last year’s Rolex 24 was among the highlights of the season. Nasr, arguably one of the best drivers of the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) era with two championships, returns to the IMSA paddock fulltime as he seeks to add GTP success to his sterling sports car résumé. Christensen joins for the Rolex 24 and the Dane looks for prototype results to add to his strong GT résumé that includes class wins at Sebring (2014), the Rolex 24 (2017) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2018) along with a 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship GTE Pro title.
No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06
Filipe Albuquerque/Ricky Taylor/Louis Deletraz/Brendon Hartley
Wayne Taylor has a knack for winning Rolex 24s with different lineups, and his quest to return to the top after a near miss last year is no different. No less than 12 different drivers drove a WTR-entered No. 10 car – either a Cadillac or Acura – in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) era over a run of four wins in five years from 2017 to 2021. But who’s counting?
As ever, Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor remain two of the series’ top prototype drivers. Both have two overall Rolex 24 wins, with Albuquerque having also captured a GT class win here in 2013. They co-drove together to the win in 2021, the team’s debut with Acura. In 2023, they’ll adapt to the new Acura ARX-06 for the renamed Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport.
Looking to add their names to the spoils this year are the latest team newcomers, Deletraz and Hartley. Deletraz, who joins for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, has back-to-back Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) titles in the European Le Mans Series and a pair of WeatherTech Championship LMP2 wins last year. Rolex 24-only addition Hartley has a great record too; the ex-F1 driver has three 24 Hours of Le Mans wins in his last four starts (2017, 2020, 2022). He’ll make his sixth Rolex 24 start, first since 2017. Both have a Motul Petit Le Mans win, as well.
No. 24 BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8
Philipp Eng/Augusto Farfus/Marco Wittmann/Colton Herta
BMW promotes drivers that have had success in its GT and DTM ranks into its first top-flight prototype effort in more than 20 years. While Eng, Farfus and Wittmann are all new to prototype racing, they’ve gathered their own accolades over the years.
Both Farfus and Eng have Rolex 24 and Nurburging 24 wins on their résumés, and Farfus and Eng have captured Rolex 24 wins with BMW M Team RLL. Wittmann, too, has an extensive BMW history with more than a decade on board and two DTM titles under his belt. He’s only made occasional IMSA starts, primarily at IMEC rounds. The same is true for Herta, but the IndyCar race winner already has two Rolex 24 wins under his belt: one apiece in GTLM (2019) and LMP2 (2022).
No. 25 BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8
Connor De Phillippi/Nick Yelloly/Sheldon van der Linde/Colton Herta
American Connor De Phillippi joined the team in 2018 and has achieved several key victories, including a Rolex 24 GTLM win in 2019. He had the special distinction of taking the new GTP car out for its maiden rollout last July.
Yelloly captured a Nurburgring 24 win in 2020 in a BMW M6 GT3 and has distinguished himself at the Nordschleife and other endurance races, including a pair with BMW M Team RLL last year in GTD PRO. The younger van der Linde brother, Sheldon, is only 23 but has impressed already. He won his Motul Petit Le Mans debut in 2017, driving with De Phillippi, and enters 2023 on the heels of capturing the 2022 DTM title. Herta is listed again here as the fourth driver across both BMW M Hybrid V8 cars.
No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac V-LMDh
Pipo Derani/Alexander Sims/Jack Aitken
Derani anchors a now three-driver lineup with two new teammates in the Whelen Engineering-supported, Action Express Racing-prepared Cadillac V-LMDh. The dynamic Brazilian stormed to the 2016 Rolex 24 win, but he has yet to revisit the top step with Action Express in four prior attempts. Action Express has four IMSA titles, six Michelin Endurance Cup titles and three Rolex 24 wins (2010, 2014, 2018).
The team’s two newcomers are an intriguing blend of youth and experience. Sims starred in two fulltime GTLM seasons with BMW in 2017 and 2018. With experience largely in GT cars and more recently in Formula E, he’ll seek to adapt quickly. He continues in the General Motors family after two years with Corvette Racing in selected endurance rounds. Aitken, 27, has more GT than prototype experience but has excelled in junior open-wheel series and has a Formula 1 start on his résumé. He’ll make his Rolex 24 debut.
No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-06
Tom Blomqvist/Colin Braun/Helio Castroneves/Simon Pagenaud
The numerical symmetry of the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian entry winning the 60th Rolex 24 a year ago kicked off a championship-winning campaign for Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis. Heading into a year of change for the top class, the team worked to keep things somewhat similar. There are two key changes: the team shifting to Acura’s new ARX-06 and bringing in three-time series champion and three-time Rolex 24 class winner Braun as Blomqvist’s new full-season co-driver. The move reunites Braun and Shank 10 years after a 2013 speed record set with a Ford-powered Riley Daytona Prototype on Daytona International Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval.
The team’s full-season IndyCar drivers, Castroneves and Pagenaud, anchor the Rolex 24 lineup. Castroneves is back for the full Michelin Endurance Cup season, and the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner and 2020 IMSA DPi champion seeks his third straight Rolex 24 victory. Pagenaud, a past IndyCar champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, completes the quartet.
Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2)
No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR ORECA LMP2 07
Ben Hanley/George Kurtz/Matt McMurry/Esteban Gutierrez
George Kurtz’s CrowdStrike Racing program shifts up from Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) to Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) and joins with the Portuguese-based Algarve Pro Racing for the Michelin Endurance Cup rounds. Kurtz has a bevy of GT3 wins with Mercedes-AMG GT3 entries on his résumé along with a 2021 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring victory in LMP3 with CORE autosport. Past Rolex 24 LMP2 class winner Hanley, past LMP2 and GT Daytona (GTD) class champion McMurry and former Formula 1 and IndyCar driver Gutierrez join a strong lineup. The team also has veteran engineer Jeff Braun lending a hand, which will only add to the team’s strength on the pit wall.
No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA LMP2 07
John Farano/Scott McLaughlin/Josef Newgarden/Kyffin Simpson
A likely fan favorite, the No. 8 Tower Motorsport entry should be one of the most-discussed cars this month. Featuring IndyCar teammates Newgarden and McLaughlin, the “Bus Bros” make their Rolex 24 debuts and the “#BusBros24” theme figures to trend across the racing social media landscape. Newgarden and McLaughlin finished second and fourth, respectively, in last year’s IndyCar Series and won eight of 17 races between them. Farano’s Tower program has had its own run of success with three straight Motul Petit Le Mans wins and last year’s LMP2 class title. Simpson also won at Petit Le Mans last year in GTD; the 18-year-old has dual American and Barbadian nationality, is based in the Cayman Islands, and makes his prototype debut.
No. 11 TDS Racing ORECA LMP2 07
Mikkel Jensen/Steven Thomas/Scott Huffaker/Rinus VeeKay
TDS Racing sets out for the 2023 campaign with two full-season entries. Jensen is one of the top younger prototype drivers, with two wins apiece at Sebring and Watkins Glen and one Motul Petit Le Mans triumph already on his record. He will race the factory Peugeot entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Thomas has finished second and third in the IMSA LMP2 championship the last two years. Huffaker has five wins in 11 career starts, all at Michelin Endurance Cup rounds: three at Sebring and one apiece at Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans. VeeKay, an IndyCar race winner, completes the lineup as he approaches his third Rolex 24.
No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2 07
Dwight Merriman/Ryan Dalziel/Christian Rasmussen/Oliver Jarvis
Kyle Tilley’s Era Motorsport team has been one of the top Rolex 24 entries in recent years and seeks a bounce back from a challenging 2022 race. Tilley, Merriman, Dalziel and Paul-Loup Chatin captured a memorable 2021 class win in a crayon-liveried entry, drawn by a young fan of the team. Dalziel also has an overall win here in 2010. The driving lineup changes a bit this year, with young Dane Rasmussen anticipated to join for the Michelin Endurance Cup rounds and last year’s Rolex 24 and DPi winner Jarvis added for the Rolex 24.
No. 20 High Class Racing ORECA LMP2 07
Dennis Andersen/Ed Jones/Anders Fjordbach/Raffaele Marciello
High Class Racing embarks on its second full-season entry in the LMP2 class. Andersen and Jones share the No. 20 ORECA for the full season, with IndyCar veteran Jones set for his third straight Rolex 24 start. Fjordbach ran most races alongside Andersen last year and shifts to the Michelin Endurance Cup races role. Marciello has excelled in Mercedes-AMG GT3 machinery for several years, and won the Spa 24 Hours last year.
No. 35 TDS Racing ORECA LMP2 07
Francois Heriau/Giedo van der Garde/Josh Pierson/Job van Uitert
Heriau anchors the second full-season TDS Racing entry with ex-Formula 1 driver van der Garde, who has a wealth of LMP2 experience. Pierson, still only 16 until Feb. 14, set a record as the youngest 24 Hours of Le Mans starter in history in 2022 supplanting fellow LMP2 competitor Matt McMurry. He’ll share this car for the Michelin Endurance Cup races. Dutch driver van Uitert has a Petit Le Mans win on his résumé in two prior IMSA starts.
No. 51 Rick Ware Racing ORECA LMP2 07
Eric Lux/Pietro Fittipaldi/Devlin DeFrancesco/Austin Cindric
Rick Ware Racing makes its Rolex 24 return after focusing solely on an IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup GT Daytona (GTD) class effort last year with an Acura NSX GT3. After attempting the Rolex 24 with Multimatic/Riley and Ligier chassis in 2020 and 2021, the team now has an ORECA. Cindric, who won last year’s Daytona 500, is set for his fifth Rolex 24 start. He’s the second Daytona 500 winner in a Rick Ware Rolex entry, as Austin Dillon was on board in 2021. The grandson of Emerson, Pietro Fittipaldi has starts in both Formula 1 and IndyCar and will race the full season with Lux. Lux and DeFrancesco enter having captured an LMP2 class win last year with DragonSpeed USA.
No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07
Ben Keating/Paul-Loup Chatin/Alex Quinn/Nicolas Lapierre
The Keating/Chatin/Quinn trio is anticipated for Bobby Oergel’s team in Michelin Endurance Cup races, with Lapierre joining for the Rolex 24. The PR1 Mathiasen team has a past Prototype Challenge class win here in 2015, but a win with its flagship LMP2 car has eluded it in several tries. The same is true for Keating, who also has a 2015 class win – in GTD – but not in any other classes despite frequently running multiple classes in the same race. Chatin, meanwhile, was part of Era Motorsport’s 2021 LMP2 win at the Rolex 24. Lapierre has a unique record with four LMP2 wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans but none at the Rolex 24. Series debutante Quinn swept a single junior formula weekend in his debut at Indianapolis last year, and may be an under-the-radar driver to watch.
No. 55 Proton Competition ORECA LMP2 07
Fred Poordad/James Allen/Giammaria Bruni/Francesco Pizzi
In the absence of an anticipated Proton Porsche 963 GTP customer entry, the team fields an LMP2 ORECA for an intriguing blend of drivers. Bruni, a longtime Ferrari GT ace where he won three 24 Hours of Le Mans and two FIA World Endurance Championship GTE Pro titles, switched to Porsche in 2018 where he’s had lesser success. That said, he was part of Porsche’s Le Mans winning lineup in GTE Pro last year. Allen has made a pair of LMP2 starts at the Rolex 24 and scored the class pole in 2019. Poordad is an IMSA and FIA WEC veteran who started two prior Rolex 24 races in 2011 and 2012. Italian teenager Pizzi was a late add to this car as its fourth driver.
No. 88 AF Corse ORECA LMP2 07
Francois Perrodo/Julien Canal/Mathieu Vaxiviere/Nicklas Nielsen
AF Corse fields both LMP2 and GTD entries in this year’s Rolex 24. Singapore-born Frenchman Perrodo has two prior GT starts in the Rolex 24 but has achieved great success in the FIA WEC, with four class titles and a 24 Hours of Le Mans class win to his name. Canal has a similar track record of European success with three Le Mans class wins and two FIA WEC class titles, both in LMP2. Vaxiviere has raced in several prototype classes, including a handful of IMSA DPi starts, and has three Le Mans podiums. Danish driver Nielsen, the lone non-Frenchman in this car, has emerged as one of Ferrari’s young stars and has co-driven with Perrodo the last three years. He has a Le Mans class win and three FIA WEC titles to his name, and will race a Ferrari Hypercar this year in the FIA WEC.
Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3)
No. 13 AWA Duqueine D08
Matt Bell/Orey Fidani/Lars Kern/Moritz Kranz
AWA embarks on the 2023 season with two of its Duqueine D08 cars entered for the Rolex 24. British Matt Bell – to distinguish from the American driver of the same name – shared the car with Fidani for selected races in 2022 and had a best finish of second at Road America. Kern is back with the team for a second straight year. Kranz joins for the Rolex 24; he won the IMSA Prototype Challenge race here in 2021.
No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08
Wayne Boyd/Anthony Mantella/Thomas Merrill/Nicolas Varrone
Mantella drove selected IMSA races in 2022 with two LMP3 teams, and is joined by three drivers who have shown a knack for success at various points in LMP3 machinery. Boyd has won LMP3 championships in both European and Asian Le Mans; Merrill has won races in LMP2, LMP3 and finished on the podium with WeatherTech Racing in the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans; Varrone already has an IMSA pole.
No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P320
Joao Barbosa/Lance Willsey/Nico Pino/Danny Soufi
Returning to full-time competition after a partial 2021, the Sean Creech team had a solid 2022 season that included a class win at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Dr. Willsey is set for his 13th Rolex 24 start, his third in a row alongside Barbosa, a four-time Rolex 24 winner (three overall), three-time polesitter and extensively experienced pilot with some 13,371 laps completed in the race (93% of the maximum). Teenagers Pino (18 years old) and Soufi (19) impressed the team in driver evaluations and will no doubt lean on Barbosa and the Creech team’s insights. Pino earned the LMP3 Motul Pole Award in qualifying on Sunday.
No. 36 Andretti Autosport Ligier JS P320
Jarett Andretti/Gabby Chaves/Dakota Dickerson/Rasmus Lindh
With Andretti Autosport also partnering with two Acuras in two other classes (No. 10 GTP, No. 93 GTD), it may be easy to overlook the sole Andretti Autosport-only named entry in the field. This team’s lineup of Andretti, Chaves, Dickerson and Lindh should be one of the LMP3 victory contenders. Chaves (2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR) and Dickerson (2021 IMSA Prototype Challenge LMP3-1) already have IMSA titles as part of their career records, and Chaves and Andretti enter having capped off 2022 in style with the Motul Petit Le Mans class win. Lindh has scored LMP3 wins in Prototype Challenge but is yet to break through for his first WeatherTech Championship LMP3 victory.
No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P320
Christopher Allen/Connor Bloum/John DeAngelis/Cameron Shields
Brent O’Neill’s Performance Tech team has a habit of picking up results in big races. Shields, a young Australian driver, is the team’s only continuing driver from 2022 but he raced the Rolex 24 with another team. Bloum, a Michelin Pilot Challenge veteran, returns to the paddock for the first time in a couple years. Allen races for The VOGM Support Network, a children’s non-profit connecting kids and babies born with a rare brain condition to hospitals, doctors and treatment. DeAngelis completes the lineup.
No. 43 MRS-GT Racing Ligier JS P320
Sebastian Alvarez/Guilherme Oliveira/Danial Frost/James French
MRS-GT Racing gained IMSA experience in Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by The Cayman Islands competition the last couple years and steps up for its WeatherTech Championship debut with an eclectic lineup. Alvarez, 20, is a Mexican driver who finished third in European Le Mans Series LMP3 in 2022. Oliveira, 18, is a Portuguese driver who finished one spot better – second – in that series. Frost, 21, hails from Singapore and is a race winner in IndyCar’s top junior series. French is a past Rolex 24 class winner (2017, Prototype Challenge with Performance Tech).
No. 74 Riley Ligier JS P320
Gar Robinson/Felipe Fraga/Glenn van Berlo/Josh Burdon
Like Wayne Taylor Racing in the top prototype class, Bill Riley’s named team has a habit of winning the Rolex 24 with different drivers. The team goes for an LMP3 class three-peat in 2023 with its third different lineup in as many years. Robinson shared the car with Oliver Askew, Spencer Pigot and Scott Andrews in 2021, and then repeated with Fraga, Kay van Berlo and Michael Cooper last year. Robinson and Fraga are back and with Kay now in a Kellymoss with Riley GTD Porsche, the team has swapped in Kay’s younger brother Glenn alongside. Burdon added a Motul Petit Le Mans win to his name to end 2022.
No. 85 JDC-Miller MotorSports Duqueine D08
Till Bechtolsheimer/Tijmen van der Helm/Luca Mars/Mason Filippi
As JDC-Miller also plays the waiting game for its new Porsche 963 GTP entry, John Church’s team still has an entry in the Rolex 24 with its LMP3 class Duqueine D08. And running a No. 85 “Banana Boat” yellow prototype in another class has worked to Church’s advantage before; the team’s No. 85 ORECA FLM09 captured the 2016 Prototype Challenge Rolex 24 class victory. Tasked with repeating that feat seven years later are IMSA veteran Bechtolsheimer, Michelin Pilot Challenge contenders in 16-year-old Mars and Hyundai TCR race winner Filippi, along with 18-year-old Dutchman van der Helm. Of note, Bechtolsheimer shifts to prototypes after running primarily with Gradient Racing’s Acura NSX GT3 in the past and having won last year’s Motul Petit Le Mans in GTD with Kyffin Simpson and Mario Farnbacher.
No. 87 FastMD Racing Duqueine D08
James Vance/Nick Boulle/Yu Kanamaru/Antonio Serravalle
The FastMD Racing team makes its Rolex 24 debut after making selected WeatherTech Championship LMP3 starts the last two years. Vance, who’s been integral to the FastMD team’s progression, is set for his first Rolex 24 start since 2015. Boulle shared Performance Tech’s Rolex 24-winning Prototype Challenge class entry in 2017. Kanamaru has mainly raced junior open-wheel series in Europe and Japan. Serravalle, a young Canadian, has raced primary in the North American open-wheel ladder.