Its a week away from the ROLEX 24 and what do we know…? If the qualifying run in the Motul Pole Award 100 was any indication we’re in for some good racing to officially open the IMSA season book for 2021.
We’ve seen Jimmie Johnson wrestle with the ALLY #48 Cadillac. With NASCAR in his rear view and some INDY action on the horizon Johnson is using the ROLEX to get some wheel time variety. He’ll have some experience sharing the driver seat with Kamui Kobayashi, Simon Pagenaud, Mike Rockenfeller. All have 24 hour Daytona experience and multiple series history for road racing. The off track conversation should also be fun with Japan, France, Germany and USA mixing accents.
Action Express is backing the ALLY #48 but also have 2020 NASCAR Champion Chase Elliott in another Cadillac, the Whelen Engineering #31. He’ll be joined by Action team drivers bringing lots of experience to keep Chase on track. Pipo Derani, Felipe Nasr and Mike Conway have years combined to push the competition.
Meyer Shank Racing will be putting commentator and driver A.J. Allmendinger on track with previous ROLEX 24 winner Juan Pablo Montoya. Beyond Montoya’s multiple series skill set, the Sirius XM / AutoNation #60 Acura will seat Dane Cameron and Olivier Pla.
What else…? INDYCAR is well represented for the ROLEX. There are very talented female drivers sharing the seat of the #88 GTD Team Hardpoint Porsche. Katherine Legge and Christina Nielsen share the car with Rob Ferriol and Earl Bamber. The GTD class is also the most crowded with 19 cars in the field.
The LMP3 class is being added to the main event for 2021 making five series running in the ROLEX 24. Previously, LMP3 had run with a Prototype Challenge event. All five classes ran practice in the Roar Before the 24 and the Motul Pole Award 100, which is also a new qualifying segment for 2021.
For the pole, Action Express #31 came across on top after starting at the rear of the DPi class. A weight penalty put them back. The advance to the front in the short order of the qualifying race shows the strength of the #31 team as a preview of the ROLEX 24.