While GT Le Mans (GTLM) has the smallest field at nine cars, there is no shortage of action between the manufacturers. Let’s take a look at the class by manufacturer.
The brute strength of the C7.Rs cannot be overstated as the popular GM marque won back-to-back runnings in 2015 and 2016 with 2016 being a classic photo finish with the two cars so close to each other. Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler highlight a powerful driving lineup for the Chevrolet team and will be fighting near the front as they were close to the top of the time sheet in the Roar time sessions.
This will be a brand new car for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan squad as the M8 makes its debut. John Edwards, Bill Auberlen and Connor De Phillippi are among those who will put the M8 through its paces to hopefully bring BMW their first GT win at Daytona since the 1998 running where Auberlen was in an M3 in the GT3 class.
Risi Competizione missed a good portion of the 2017 season due to budgetary issues following a heavy crash at the 24 Hours of Le Mans but the Houston squad are looking to bring Ferrari their first GT victory since 2014. The team has a lot of experience behind them with two-time Le Mans winner Toni Vilander and 2014 GTD class winner Alessandro Pier Guidi on the team, they will be looking for a perfect start to 2018.
After a rather slow start to the new Ford GT program at Daytona in 2016, Chip Ganassi Racing won Le Mans that year and won the Rolex 24 in 2017. The two car team has numerous heavy hitting drivers such as Joey Hand, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe. With very fast times at the Roar Before the 24, Ford may be the odds on favorite to win again.
Porsche and sports car racing are like peanut butter and jelly, they just go well together. Porsche resumed their factory GT effort in the U.S. in 2014, winning the GTLM class. Porsche won the GTD class in last year’s Rolex 24 but the GTLM effort only had one success last year at the GT-only round at Lime Rock. Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber are the more well known Porsche drivers at this year’s Rolex 24.
Picking a winner? Not a bad decision to go with either Ford or Corvette. Dark horse? Perhaps Ferrari.