Diversity in sports car marques at the 2016 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona was unprecedented – Aston Martin, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford GT, Lamborghini, and Porsche were competing – and by the numbers, sports cars dominated the event.

Just twenty one prototypes were entered in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener, but among the pro and pro-am categories, thirty three sports cars took the start. GTLM, the professional, factory-supported category had the usual Corvette-Porsche-Ferrari battles, but this year BMW brought their M6 to the fight.

 

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche North America 911: Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy, Kevin Estre, Porsche North America 912: Earl Bamber, Frederic Makowiecki, Michael Christensen

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche North America 911: Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy, Kevin Estre, Porsche North America 912: Earl Bamber, Frederic Makowiecki, Michael Christensen

While fans have nothing but admiration for the GTLM factory programs with their ridiculous levels of preparation and performance, the pro-am GTD class is diverse as it’s ever been and massively competitive.

GTD was exciting for one reason – sports cars of all different shapes and sizes battled around the clock. In motor racing, other than driving of course, there’s nothing more exciting that watching your favourite cars clash in one of the world’s top endurance races.

Five, yes, five new Lamborghini Huracan GT3s showed up – and showed well. Two Aston Martin Vantage GT3s took the start. A pair of Dodge Vipers were in it to win it, hoping to repeat their past victory. Our pal Jeff Segal was piloting a Ferrari 458 GT3, as he does. GT3-spec BMW M6s were competing in GTD, along with a pile of Audi R8s.

 

Rolex 24 at Daytona , IMSA WeatherTech Series race, Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach , FL January, 2016. (Photo by Brian Cleary/www.bcpix.com)

Rolex 24 at Daytona , IMSA WeatherTech Series race, Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach , FL January, 2016. (Photo by Brian Cleary/www.bcpix.com)

Notable absences were McLaren and Bentley, although both marques compete in the other top American sports car series, Pirelli World Challenge. Word is that Bentley only competes in championships in which it can battle for the overall win.

Perhaps the most notable difference this year was the lack of Porsche 911s. For a class that used to be filled with Porsche 911s, only five were entered in this year’s contest.

In the end, Corvette Racing had a picture perfect one-two finish in GTLM and in GTD the Magnus Racing Audi R8 brought home the win.

With a wide range of marques participating, 2016 is going to be a great year for sports car racing.

 

Images courtesy of Aston Martin and Porsche.

Published on Feb 01, 2016