It’s easy to spot, that the opening round of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is getting closer. The number of announcements from especially the GTD categories, have been ticking into all the mailboxes for the past hours and a few days, so we have decided to collect them all in one big story.
KCMG will make their Rolex 24 at Daytona debut. The team is based in Hong Kong, and therefore started out racing in Asia. They went to race in the LMP2 category, and won both the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the FIA WEC LMP2 title, before they decided to scale back to racing in various GT categories. They have opted to race in the 2022 edition of the 24 hours race at Daytona, in the brand new GTD Pro category.
The team is very close to Porsche, so they have been able to get some of the very best drivers, who don’t already have deals with other IMSA teams. Patrick Pilet, Dennis Olsen and Laurens Vanthoor all have close ties to the German car manufacturer, and has raced thousands of kilometres in a Porsche 911 GT3 R. They will be joined by Alexandre Imperatori, who has been connected to the KCMG team throughout the past few seasons.
This is a Daytona-only programme for now.
NTE Sport returns to the IMSA series, but has parked the Audi, and will instead be racing a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo in the GTD category. Don Yount, Benjamin Hites, Jaden Conwright, and Markus Palttala will be sharing the car with #42 on the door.
Yount was the only fixed member of the team in 2021, where they raced the four Michelin Endurance Cup rounds. He was teammates with Palttala at Watkins Glen, where they claimed a fourth-place finish, alongside Conwright. Palttala was replaced by Hites at the final round at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, where the young Chilenian instantly showed impressive speed, and therefore gets another go with the team.
The team is aiming at competing in the full 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, but will announce their final plans at a later stage.
Vasser Sullivan announced last month, that Frankie Montecalvo, Aaron Telitz and Richard Heistand would be racing the Lexus RC F GT3 #12 at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. They still needed a fourth driver on the car, and that will be Townsend Bell, who has done many races with the team in the past. He has slowly scaled back, to focus more on his commentary duties with NBC Sports. Bell will be on double duty at Daytona, having stints both in the car, and behind the microphone. Montecalvo and Telitz will do the full IMSA season, with Heistand added to the MEC races.
The team will run an additional car in the GTD category, with Jack Hawksworth, Ben Barnicoat and Kyle Kirkwood all confirmed in the #14. Hawksworth and Barnicoat will do the full IMSA season.
The 2021 Michelin Endurance Cup title-winning team had previously announced Jan Heylen and Ryan Hardwick as their full-season GTD drivers. They will be joined by Zacherie Robichon at the four MEC races. For the 24 hours race in Daytona, they will be joined by none other than Richard Lietz. The super-experienced Porsche works driver will be keeping a consistent and fast pace in the Porsche 911 GT3 R #16, when he is behind the wheel of it.
Wright Motorsports is part of this team too, helping out their Porsche colleagues during the 24 hours race, just like they have done in the past. Ted Geovanis will once again be joined by Matt and Hugh Plumb plus Owen Trinkler as teammates in car #64. The 24 hours race will most likely be their only outing in the big category, since they primarily focus on their Michelin Pilot Challenge programme with their GT4 Porsche.
The team, which is run by Optimum Motorsport, will return to the USA in 2022, after their first outing at Petit Le Mans 2021. The team will enter their McLaren 720S GT3 for the full 2022 season. Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy will be the two pillars in the team, with Jordan Pepper and Frederik Schandorff joining at Daytona. Iribe and Schandorff already teamed up at Petit Le Mans, since Millroy at to stay home with his pregnant wife at the time. Ben Barnicoat was the third driver in the car back then, but after cutting his ties with McLaren, and signing for Lexus, that was no longer an option for Daytona.
There will be another McLaren entered for the 24 hours race. Crucial Motorsports will run team boss Paul Holton, alongside Lance Bergstein, Jon Miller and Patrick Gallagher. The team is not likely to be near the top of the GTD ranks, but is a typical Daytona team, where some drivers team up for a huge experience – and see whatever comes after 24 hours, if they reach the chequered flag.
The testing prior to the Rolex 24 at Daytona starts on 21 January, with three days of testing and qualifying at the ROAR Before the 24, with the actual 24 hours race being run one week later.