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TUSC: Rolex 24 GTLM class preview

Jan 22, 2014, 10:00 AM EST

Photo: GM Photo: GM

The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship premieres this weekend with the Rolex 24 at Daytona. We’ll have sporadic posts and updates for the season opener of the unified series, which brings together the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and American Le Mans Series.

Next up in our list of class previews, the GTLM class.

GTLM CLASS

WHAT IT IS: The lead GT class. All open; no driver limitations, and the only class to allow for open tire competition (incidentally, all GTLM cars at Daytona run on Michelins). It’s the GT class that carried over from the ALMS, which features factory efforts from manufacturers. Still, marks the first time any of these cars will be competing in the 24-hour race. SRT (2013), Porsche (2013) and Ferrari (2011-’13) have competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with their current model cars.

WHO THEY ARE: 11 cars strong, from six different manufacturers, driven by a mix of sports car veterans and IndyCar interlopers.

A QUICK BREAKDOWN: Corvette Racing (No. 3/4 Corvette C7.R), BMW Team RLL (No. 55/56 BMW Z4 GTLM), SRT Motorsports (No. 91/93 SRT Viper GTS-R) and Porsche North America (No. 911/912 Porsche 911 RSR) have two cars apiece. There’s two Ferraris, one apiece from Krohn Racing (No. 57) and Risi Competizione (No. 62), and a single Aston Martin from the Prodrive-run AMR factory squad (No. 97).

Porsche was quick at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test; the manufacturer went 1-2 at Le Mans last year, in a 24-hour race that runs a little different than Daytona. Corvette seeks a debut win with the new C7. SRT made large performance strides in its first full season in 2013; BMW was great on handling circuits but struggled for top end speed; Ferrari and Aston Martin are the under-the-radar wild cards.

WHO TO WATCH: Too many stars to name, to be honest. Any of the drivers has the ability – whether consistently over several stints or for short bursts – to star. The privateer Krohn entry is the only car of the 11 without a realistic shot at winning, and it would not be a surprise to see three different manufacturers on the podium.

  1. predatorusmc - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    The battle in this class is going to be epic! The new Corvette vs the always fast Porsche vs the balanced Ferrari vs the glued to the road BMW vs the new entry Aston Martin. 24 hours on the edge of your seat!

    • testover6370 - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      I think the BMWs can be safely ruled out since top end speed counts for so much at Daytona with its minimal infield section. The C7-R sounds promising and should be on pace should reliability hold up, but that’s always the catch with new models. Porsche always does well at Daytona but they’ve been having driveshaft issues, so that could take them out. My money is on Viper for this one – great driver lineup, developed package, full factory supported program.

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