Friday, January 27, 2023

2023 Daytona 24 Hours - GTD Class Preview

We now move to the larger (and therefore "more interesting [to me]") GT class, GTD. As time grows short between now and tomorrow's green flag (about 15 1/2 hours as I start to type this), some of these previews might be kind of short...but we're giving it a go!

The Tail Enders

#57 Winward Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 - This car would have been one of the obvious favorites, if not THE favorite.....until a practice crash by Lucas Auer wrote the pole sitting Mercedes off, requiring the team to build up an entire new car essentially overnight (plus surgery for Auer; get well soon, Lucas). With this being the case, the team will be lucky to get a single lap before the race to see if they have any immediate things that need to be fixed before the race...otherwise, they'll be at high risk to have an early problem and fall laps down right out of the gate. Yikes. Odds - 80 to 1.


#42 NTE Sport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 - An all silver/bronze a last second driver shuffle, to make sure that there are drivers who have clearance to drive at night. Super yikes. Odds - 75 to 1.



The Super Longshots

#83 Iron Dames Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 - A perfectly capable team....that's making its debut on American soil. What are the odds they can beat 22 other good-to-excellent GTD teams? Odds - 50 to 1.


 #91 Kellymoss with Riley Porsche 911 GT3-R (992) - By all accounts, the GTD Porsches have a catastrophically bad Balance of Performance this year, with the BEST 911 winding up 14th in class in qualifying. For whatever reason, they did not get any help from IMSA with a post-qualy performance boost, so they remain down at the bottom of the timesheets. Could a Porsche win GTD on reliability? Sure. But that depends on every car from every other manufacturer having serious issues. Not likely. Odds - 40 to 1.


#92 Kellymoss with Riley Porsche 911 GT3-R (992) - See above. Odds - 40 to 1.

#80 AO Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R (992) - Like a broken record, see above. Odds - 40 to 1.


#77 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R (992) - Yes, the same even applies for a team like Wright Motorsports. Odds - 40 to 1.


#16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R (992) - Same goes for the #16. Odds - 40 to 1.


 #023 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3 - Like the #62 Risi Ferrari that I mentioned in the GTD-Pro preview, the GTD Ferraris are liable to battle the "new car blues". I'd be pretty shocked to see one in contention come Sunday morning, much less Sunday afternoon. Odds - 30 to 1.


#21 AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3 - See above. Odds - 30 to 1.


#47 Cetilar Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 - One more time, see above. Odds - 30 to 1.



The Solid Mid-Pack

#70 Inception Racing McLaren 720S GT3 - The sole US-based McLaren in top level IMSA has had its moments of running at the front of the class, but still has yet to win their first race. It'd be a little hard to imagine that breakthrough coming in the biggest race of the season......but it certainly wouldn't be impossible. Odds - 25 to 1.


#78 Forte Racing Powered by USRT Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 - This Lambo team has been around and about in the middle of the pack on the timesheets. And here they are, right about in the middle of this rundown of odds. Odds - 25 to 1.


#19 Iron Lynx Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 - Another totally capable team with plenty of driving talent that's been looking for speed. Odds - 22 to 1.


#93 Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR Acura NSX GT3 - A team making its Daytona 24 Hours debut. Solid car, solid drivers, but....there are other teams who have "been here, done this" before. Odds - 20 to 1.


#96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 - The Bimmers haven't been quite at the pointiest bit of the pointy end of the field, so it's hard to rank them much further up this list. The "Pro/Am" Turner car should be a contender for a top-5, though, if not a class win. Odds - 18 to 1.


 #1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3 - The same must be said for the #1 BMW as the #96 BMW, although the Paul Miller squad has had tons of success that shows that they can regularly compete for wins. They get the nod in the "Battle of the Bimmers", but it's a tough call to see them in the five most likely cars to win the class. Odds - 17 to 1.


#44 Magnus Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 - The Clown Princes of American Professional Sports Car Racing! And they're fast this year! They seem to be clicking with their Aston, and the addition of Aston Martin factory driver Nicki Thiim sure didn't hurt their cause. They're a SUPER strong contender for the podium this year. Odds - 15 to 1.


#12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC-F GT3 - The "Pro" side of the Vasser Sullivan team showed that they can close the deal on an endurance race at Petit Le Mans last year. Can the "Pro/Am" side of the garage shake off the horrific luck that dogged them at every turn in 2022 and do the same this weekend? Odds - 15 to 1.


#66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 - Sheena Monk steps up from the lower series of IMSA to make her debut in the top series, joining GT stars Marc Miller, Katherine Legge and Mario Farnbacher. A top-10 feels assured, and a podium is extremely possible, with a clean run. Odds - 14 to 1.



The Front Runners

#27 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 - The #23 car was quick just about everywhere in 2022, and their form looks to be about the same at Daytona this year. They've got to be gunning for the win in both of the GTD classes this weekend. Odds - 11 to 1.


#32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3 - But meanwhile, the Mercs have looked like absolute rocket ships this month, qualifying on the pole in GTD-Pro and making a 1-2-3 sweep in GTD qualifying (although the #57 Winward Mercedes will be starting from the back of the pack after its crash). At the moment, it seems to be a question of which Mercedes can keep it all together the best for 24 hours..... Odds - 10 to 1.


#75 Sun Energy 1 Mercedes AMG GT3 - See above. The Mercs have to be the favorites to win this year. Odds - 10 to 1.



Just two classes to go! Check back shortly for the top two prototype class previews!

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