The Roar Before The 24 is more than just a simple test. It’s the first time we get to see the majority of 2018 teams with their new cars and drivers on track together. Whilst this is the second year of the new IMSA Prototype class, there are still plenty of changes to cover.
In an attempt to get the teams to show true performance, and to stop teams from packing up early, there is a qualifying session at the end of the Roar test weekend to decide the garage and pit lane allocation spots for the Rolex 24.
In with the new
2017 saw Cadillac, Nissan and Mazda take to the new Prototype class, but 2018 is where the fun really begins. Mazda have dropped Speedsource after what can be described as a “challenging” few years, and picked up Le Mans super team Joest to run the cars. Acura are back in Prototype racing too, aren’t holding back. Penske will be in charge of running the Acura operation.
Cadillac have also been testing a new 5.5L engine in the back of the DPi.VR. They managed to keep that a secret for a while, but now that the cat is out of the bag, we’re looking forward to seeing how it performs compared to the old 6.2L monster.
We’ll also see the brand new BMW M8 GTE car on track. BMW are regulars in IMSA with the M6 GTLM, but never brought the car to Europe or Le Mans. The new M8 will see action on both sides of the Atlantic, and the Roar is the first time time we’ll get to see the car properly on track with its rivals.
Although there was an IMSA sanctioned BoP test in December, that was a test by IMSA, for IMSA. It was a data gathering process for the BoP system, not a test for the teams to prepare for the Rolex 24. The Roar Before the 24 is the first time we’ll see all of the new cars on track together properly for the first time.
Out with the old
One of the most important changes is that the Prototype Challenge class is gone. Whilst the PC class provided a valuable service over the years (in the form of filling fields during days of low car counts), many felt it outstayed its welcome in IMSA. 2017 only had a handful of entries throughout the year, but they tended to cause more than a handful of cautions.
Many were worried that the teams wouldn’t be able to make the jump to full Prototype budgets. Fortunately, CORE, Performance Tech and BAR1 have all made the transition.
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Prototype – DPi – 10 cars
- The Cadillacs will receive the ACO Joker upgrade that was granted for the Dallara chassis. The domination of the IMSA series isn’t taken into account when deciding upgrades for the standard LMP2 chassis.
- Cadillac have a new engine. This opens the door to a little bit of BoP gaming, as happened in 2017. Keep an eye on it.
- We’re up to 4 Cadillacs. Spirit of Daytona (formerly Visit Florida Racing) have a #90 Cadillac DPi.VR. Renger Van Der Zande leaves the team. Matt McMurry and Tristan Vaultier are listed for the Roar.
- The ESM Nissan DPi also receives a joker upgrade to the Ligier JS P2 mother chassis. The Nissan DPi took a while to get the momentum going before finishing on a high at Petit Le Mans.
- The new Acura ARX-05 will make its debut. We seen the car the BoP test, where it was described as a “mini Peugeot” by Simon Pagenaud. Will they show true performance at the Roar?
- The Mazda RT24-P makes its return after taking the second half of 2017 off. There have been significant changes to the base Riley, and to the Mazda specific equipment. With Joest involved, expectations are high.
Prototype – LMP2 Full Time Entries – 6 cars
- Unexpected stars of 2017, JDC-Miller Motorsport have expanded the operation to include a second ORECA 07. The #85 Banana Boat becomes the #99 Red Dragon, sponsored by Gainsco. Fortunately, the old Banana Boat isn’t lost, as a new yellow #85 will take its place. Simon Trummer, Robert Alon and Austin Cindric fill the new seats.
- PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports are back, with a new livery and new drivers. Sebastian Saavedra, Gustavo Yacaman and Nicholas Boulle.
- BAR1 have moved from PC to the Prototype class. They’ll be running the Riley Mk 30 that had so many problems last year. Joker upgrades to the car are free to the customer, and with Joest involved, could this have been a good bet? Ex-Mazda driver Joel Miller is listed as the only driver for the car currently.
- CORE Autosport and Performance Tech have taken the safe route to Prototype and bagged a pair of ORECA 07 chassis to run with.
- The Dawson Racing entry has not materialised.
Prototype – LMP2 NAEC/Daytona Specials – 4 cars
- Due to the new LMP1 projects, DragonSpeed and Rebellion won’t be running in the NAEC events for 2018.
- Jackie Chan DC Racing Jota are at Daytona with 2 ORECA 07 chassis. Currently F1 driver Lance Stroll is in the #37
- United Autosports have 2 Ligier JS P2 cars entered for the roar. It’s a hell of a lineup they have too. The #23 has Phil Hanson, Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso scheduled. The #31 has Will Own, Huge de Sadeleer, Paul di Resta and Bruno Senna. United must be an outside shot at the win.
GTLM – 9 cars
- Risi Competizione plans are still unconfirmed for 2018. Risi has entered a car for the Roar, but the only driver listed is Ferrari factory driver Alessandro Pier Guidi.
- BMW moves from the M6 GTLM to the M8 GTE. Bill Auberlen will run the NAEC events only, and Connor De Phillippi steps into a BMW seat.
GTD – 21 cars
- Risi Competizione has also filed an entry to the GTD class with a Ferrari 488 GT3. The car appears to be a one off to be run for paying amateurs
- European Lamborghini team GRT Grasser Racing are presented with a Huracan GT3.
- Lexus and Acura have had to withdraw factory funding from the GTD class after the first year. 2018 sees the first proper privateer efforts for these cars.
- 3GT Racing have entered 2 Lexus RCF GT3s, but only one currently has drivers. Lexus funding has not been completely replaced yet. WEC regular David Heinemeier Hansson is in the #25, presumably providing some of the funding.
- Land Motorsport are back with an Audi R8 LMS GT3, Mies and van der Linde (x2) scheduled to test the car.
- Aston Martin regulars, Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda, Paul Dalla Lana and Daniel Serra are in a Ferrari 488 GT3. The Spirit of Race car is being run by AF Corse (who else?). With no other Aston Martins in the field, it was presumably cheaper and easier to run the Ferrari.
- Turner Motorsport is on the entry list, but with only Jens Klingmann listed as a driver. It is the only BMW M6 GT3 in the field.
- A third Acura NSX joins the field – NAEC only team HART.
TV coverage will be limited, but Radio Le Mans will provide audio coverage of the event through its IMSA Radio channel. As always, there will no doubt be videos from people on the ground appearing on YouTube. Follow our twitter feed and we’ll post anything fun we find.