Drivers from 25 countries and six continents are preparing for this weekend's day-long epic at Daytona. A mix of endurance racing veterans and sportscar newcomers will take to the grid on Saturday, some looking to notch another victory at the Florida event and others hoping for their first battle-won Rolex to date. IMSA has officially revealed the 50-car list that will complete the field at Daytona International Speedway later on in the week, and as it shows, 2018 will be a premier year for the WeatherTech Sportscar championship.
The top-tier Prototype class features many familiar faces with the addition of a few worthy new names—Team Penske and Mazda Joest. While Mazda did compete at the Rolex 24 in 2017, this will be Joest's kickoff to a full-time race schedule in 2018 after many successful years with Audi and formerly Porsche. Penske, then, will be entering its first race with the new Acura ARX-05 prototype. The American team will field two entries while Mazda Joest is set to enter a pair of its own RT-24P cars. DPi long-stays including Wayne Taylor Racing, Whelen Engineering, Mustang Sampling, and Tequila Patron ESM will also be eager to cut their teeth alongside a slew of LMP2 entrants.
GTLM, the fastest GT class in the series, will once again contain well-accomplished teams like Corvette Racing and Risi Competizione. Team RLL is anxious to compete for the first time with its BMW M8 GTE tandem, and Porsche will enter its 911 RSR twins for a second consecutive season. Chip Ganassi Racing will be there with two Ford GTs in tow, and lastly, the Houston-based Risi crew will come in guns blazing with its Ferrari 488 GTE siblings.
In the tightly-contested Pro-Am GTD category, expect to see plenty of Mercedes-AMG GT3 machines as well as others from Acura, Audi, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus, and Porsche. A lone BMW M6 GT3 be fielded by Turner Motorsports and an all-volunteer team will drive the two HART-prepared Acura NSX racers. It's likely that this will be one of the most entertaining categories at Daytona as Le Mans winners will tango with seasoned amateur competitors for the class win.
You can check out the full 50-car list below. Stay tuned to The Drive for more Rolex 24 coverage as we will have boots on the ground for the entire race weekend.
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