The 2024 Rolex 24 at Daytona placed on very shut racing for a report crowd

Porsche and Cadillac GTP race cars at Daytona
Enlarge / The present crop of GTP hybrid prototypes look great, due to guidelines that cap the quantity of downforce they’ll generate in favor of extra dramatic styling.

Porsche Motorsport

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—Close to-summer temperatures greeted a report crowd on the Daytona Worldwide Speedway in Florida final weekend. On the finish of every January, the monitor hosts the Rolex 24, an around-the-clock endurance race that is now as high-profile because it has ever been in the course of the occasion’s 62-year historical past.

Between the packed crowd and the 59-car grid, there’s proof that sports activities automobile racing is in good condition. A few of that is perhaps attributable to Drive to Survive‘s rising tide lifting a bunch of non-F1 boats, however there’s extra to the story than only a resurgent curiosity in motorsport. The dramatic-looking GTP prototypes have quite a bit to do with it—highly effective hybrid racing automobiles from Acura, BMW, Cadillac, and Porsche are bringing within the followers and, in some instances, some fairly well-known drivers with F1 or IndyCar wins on their resumes.

However IMSA and the Rolex 24 is about extra than simply the highest class of automobiles; along with the GTP hybrids, the sphere additionally comprised the very aggressive pro-am LMP2 prototype class and a pair of courses (one for skilled groups, one other for pro-ams) for production-based machines constructed to a world algorithm, known as GT3. (To be barely complicated, in IMSA, these courses are referred to as GTD-Professional and GTD. Extra on sports activities automobile racing being needlessly complicated later.)

The crowd for the 2024 Rolex 24 was larger even than last year. This is the pre-race grid walk, which I chose to watch from afar.
Enlarge / The group for the 2024 Rolex 24 was bigger even than final 12 months. That is the pre-race grid stroll, which I selected to observe from afar.

Jonathan Gitlin

There was even a Hollywood megastar in attendance, because the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced, Joseph Kosinski-directed racing film starring Brad Pitt was on the monitor filming scenes for the beginning of that film.

GTP finds its groove

Final 12 months’s Rolex 24 was the debut of the brand new GTP automobiles, they usually did not have a wholly trouble-free race. These automobiles are a number of the most complex sports activities prototypes to show a wheel as a result of hybrid methods, and in the course of the 2023 race, two of the entrants required prolonged stops to switch their hybrid batteries. These teething troubles are a factor of the previous, and over the past 12 months, the automobiles have discovered an terrible lot extra velocity, with many of the 10-car class breaking Daytona’s lap report throughout qualifying.

Most of that new velocity has come from the groups’ familiarity with the automobiles after a season of racing but in addition from a 12 months of software program improvement. Solely Porsche’s 963 has had any mechanical upgrades in the course of the low season. “You… won’t discover something on the surface shell of the automobile,” defined Urs Kuratle, Porsche Motorsport’s director of manufacturing facility racing. “So the aerodynamics, all [those] issues, they give the impression of being the identical… Typically it is a materials change, the place a becoming was out of aluminum and as a result of reliability causes we modify to metal or issues like this. There are minor particulars like this.”

GTP automobiles aren’t as quick and even as highly effective as an F1 single-seater, however the driver workload from contained in the cockpit could also be even larger. Ultimately 12 months’s season-ending Petit Le Mans, former F1 champion Jenson Button—then making a visitor look within the privateer-run JDC Miller Motorsport Porsche 963—got here away with a newfound respect for what number of completely different methods might be tweaked from the steering wheel.

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