Porsche has a long history of consecutive class victories at the famed Rolex 24 at Daytona, and BGB's victory there last year in the GX class continued that legacy. For that win streak to continue, one of the new generation of racing Porsches will need to chalk up a class win this year. Porsche will be pulling out the stops to make sure that happens, with an astonishing fourteen 991 racers converging on the Floridian endurance race, and a staggering 54 drivers to pilot them.
Outside of the Le Mans 24, this is the most exciting 24-hour race anywhere in the world, and with the excellent international talent there this year, it should be among the best yet. As the first Rolex 24 at Daytona run under the newly unified North American sports car era, it shouldn't disappoint.
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Porsche in the GTLM Category
#911 and #912 - Porsche North America with CORE autosport
The 911 car will be driven by Porsche stalwarts Patrick Pilet, Richard Lietz, and Nick Tandy. Tandy and Lietz have been nominated to run the car for the full season, with Pilet stepping in for the Rolex 24 to assist with driving duties. Pilet and Lietz were both part of Porsche's 1-2 at Le Mans last year in the 991 RSR, and have considerable GT experience between them. Tandy, who ran with Falken Tire to help them win the 2013 Petit Le Mans, marks his 1-year anniversary as a Porsche factory driver with this race.
The 912, meanwhile is to be piloted by Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Long, and Michael Christensen. Long and Bergmeister are known quantities in the North American sports car scene, having spent a lot of time together in various cockpits, and always with some success. Christensen, meanwhile, is the new kid on the Porsche block, having just been promoted up to the big leagues from the junior team. With luck, Michael will learn from teammate Long as they compete the entire season together.
This Is The 991 RSR's Second Season
The 991 RSR is returning for 2014 after a relatively successful 2013 season in the World Endurance Championship. With some late season aerodynamic updates, the new "evo" car is just a bit quicker than the Le Mans winner, and should prove to be a strong contender to have on the high-banks of Daytona. Competition will be stiff, but if anyone can pull it off on debut, it'll be the combined might of Porsche and CORE autosport.
Trivia to impress your friends - Composite Research, the team's parent company, builds a "Combat Application Tourniquet" for military and emergency services use.
Porsche in the GTD Category
#18 and 19 - Muehlner Motorsport
Muehlner will be attacking the Rolex 24 with a two-car squad. Drivers of the #18 car will be Earl Bamber, Brad Blum, Alexandre Imperatori, and Ronald Zitza. Earl Bamber is the 2013 Carrera Cup Asia champion, and was added to the team at the behest of Porsche. Car #19, completing the Muehlner pairing, will be driven by Jim Michaelian, Mark Kvamme, Randy Pobst, and Robert Gewirtz. Pobst is among the best touring car and GT drivers in North America, so keep your eye on this car!
#22 and #23 - Alex Job Racing/Team Seattle
AJR are back to the Porsche fold, after having won the Daytona 24 last year in an Audi R8. Team members, Cooper MacNeil, Lehman Keen, Shane Van Gisbergen, and L-P Dumoulin will be shoving the #22 around the circuit. AJR has always put together a great team, and these four should do well.
The #23 car is officially entered by Team Seattle, with support from Alex Job. Team Seattle has been running endurance race events to raise money for the Seattle Children's Hospital since 1997, and this year is no different. Ian James, Alex Riberas, Mario Farnbacher (brother of SRT Viper driver Dominik), and Louis-Philippe Dumoulin (brother of two time Daytona 24 winner Jean Francois Dumoulin).
Trivia to impress your friends - Alex Job started racing with a Porsche 356 in 1969.
#27 and #28 - Dempsey Racing/Konrad Motorsport
After an excellent 2013 season, Dempsey is ready to kick things off with a bang. For this year, Dempsey is committed to racing 100%. So much so that he's scheduled his acting around his driving in order to run each round of the championship himself. Additionally, Andrew Davis has been hired to drive the #27 car with Dempsey. Davis is no stranger to Porsches, having won the Grand-Am GT championship with Brumos in 2011. Rounding out the team are co-owner Joe Foster and Porsche factory driver Marc Lieb.
The #28 car will be run in conjunction with Konrad Motorsport, a very experienced group out of Germany. Konrad has previous class victories at Daytona, and lots of other endurance racing experience. The car will be driven by team principal Franz Konrad, as well as Christian Engelhart, Rolf Ineichen, Lance Willsey, and Klaus Bachler.
Trivia to impress your friends - Christian Englehart and Rolf Ineichen are fresh off a Dubai 24 hour endurance victory in a Porsche.
#71 and #73 - Park Place Motorsports
The final of the four 2-car Porsche teams, Park Place is back in 2014 having doubled their efforts. Both cars have considerable talent aboard, but I might have to say the #71 lineup is just slightly better with Dr. Jim Norman, Craig Stanton, Norbert Siedler, and Porsche factory ace Timo Bernhard. That said, it wouldn't take much of a mistake by the #71 crew for the #73 to move into the favorite position. Driving talent in #73 comes in the form of Patrick Lindsey, Kevin Estre, Connor de Philippi, Jason Hart, and Mike Kess.
#30 - NGT Motorsport
Venezuelan driver Henrique Cisneros will again lead the NGT team into battle. Since 2010, the team has been fighting hard to provide the best results in both the ALMS and Grand Am. With the combined series, they can concentrate their efforts on this car, and are certain to rise to the challenge of a diverse field. Joining Cisneros for the Rolex 24 is Kuba Giermazak, Christina Nielsen, and Porsche Supercup winner Nicki Thiim. Factory newby Frederic Makowieki was scheduled to join the team, but contract disputes with former employer Aston Martin have him sitting the bench for this one.
#44 - Magnus Racing
John Potter's quirky little team, a favorite among fans, is back, and this time they mean business. They were the first team to take delivery of the all new 991 GT America, and they haven't wasted any time with it, getting down to business immediately. Admittedly, some frustration has come in dialing in a good setup for their 991, but they will surely make a good showing at the Rolex 24, they always seem to be toward the pointy end of the grid. With the lineup Potter has assembled, including Andy Lally, Wolf Henzler, and Jean-Francois Dumoulin, they can't help but have good results.
No official announcement has been made yet, but you can be sure that Magnus will again be running a live stream of the entire event. We'll update you as things are finalized.
Trivia to impress your friends - Among these four drivers, they share an astonishing 9 Rolex 24 at Daytona victories (Lally - 4, Henzler - 2, Dumoulin - 2, Potter - 1)
#58 - Snow Racing with Wright Motorsport
When is a newcomer not a newcomer? When that team is Wright Motorsport. Last year's 24-hour race for Snow Racing was a one-off, but this year, they're competing for the full season. Madison Snow, having secured the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge championship in 2013, is ready for an even bigger challenge. Teaming with Jan Heylen and Marco Siefried, the Snow Racing team will mount a not-inconsiderable effort toward victory. When it comes to Porsche Cup car preparation, Wright Motorsport is absolutely peerless, and with driving talent like this, they're sure to fare quite well.
Trivia to impress your friends - Madison Snow started racing Porsches in 2011 at 15 years old.
#81 - GB Autosport
Another newcomer to the sport, GB Autosport has amassed a team that is no stranger to victory. The team has faced a struggle in getting everything ready for the 2014 season, as they only just began planning a handful of months ago. Turning the standard gestation period of a racing team into a very short scramble has not been a light task. With a long road ahead, and a steep learning curve, they deserve a round of applause for jumping into the deep end. Drivers Damien Faulkner, Bob Faieta, and Patrick Huisman will surely help the process along.
Trivia to impress your friends - Team Manager Cole Scrogham previously owned Synergy Racing and G&W Motorsports. Combined, the teams have 8 Grand-Am championships. Scrogham also managed the Green Hornet Racing GTC car in 2012, and the BAR1 LMPC team in 2013.
Who's Porsche's Competition
In GTLM, there are factory teams from just about every manufacturer of Grand Touring Endurance cars. Two brand new C7s from Corvette Racing, two Z4s from BMW Team Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan, two factory backed Vipers, a pair of Ferrari 458 Italia from Risi Competizione, another 458 from Krohn Racing, and 1 factory backed Aston Martin V8 Vantage. If last season was any indication, the Aston will be quick, but the C7 Corvettes have proven very fast in pre-season testing. Porsche has been toward the front in testing, as well, so if the #911 and #912 keep their noses clean and keep churning out laps, they can't be counted out of the victory.
GTD is a whole different animal. As the highest subscribed class, GTD is also chock-full of talent. As GT cars go, this is probably the most diverse and most exciting grid I've ever seen in Rolex 24 at Daytona history. The depth of the field is absolutely astonishing. That said, however, there are 12 Porsche GT Americas taking the green flag, so by sheer strength of number, one of them are sure to factor quite well at the end. Teams to watch out for include TRG's new Aston Martin program, the Level 5 Ferrari, the Extreme Speed Motorsport Ferrari, or any of the five Audi R8s in the field (GMG, Flying Lizard, Fall-Line, or Paul Miller).
Resources and How to Watch/Follow Along
The 24 Hours of Daytona on Twitter for Porsche Fans
Entry List: Click Here
Timing and Scoring: TBA
IMSA Mobile App: Click here.
Andy Blackmore's annual spotter's guide: Click Here
Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona Fan Schedule: Click Here
Michelin Alley: Click Here
Motor Racing Network: 24 radio streaming of the race
Saturday, Jan. 25
2-4 p.m. EST on FOX
4-9 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 2
Overnight (Jan. 25-26)
9 p.m. – 7 a.m. EST on IMSA.com
Sunday, Jan. 26
7 a.m. – 3 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 1
[All photos provided by IMSA.com.]