The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship enters a new era with the commencement of the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona, which will kick off the 2023 program.
The main event for the 24-hour endurance race that unofficially kicks off the major-league racing season is the introduction of a new premier class for prototypes.
The new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) top category Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) vehicles will restore a link to the 24 Hours of Le Mans while adding a new level of engine electrification to IMSA.
It’s feasible for the first time in decades (since the “Ford vs. Ferrari” fights) for the same car to win the overall championship at both Daytona and Le Mans because at least some of the vehicles on the grid at Daytona are also scheduled to compete at Le Mans in June.
Four manufacturers will compete in the GTP category, including two that are brand-new to IMSA’s top level. LMDh prototypes will be fielded by Porsche Motorsport (with Team Penske) and BMW (with Rahal Letterman Lanigan), joining the remaining teams from the DPi category (now extinct) for Acura (Meyer Shank Racing, Wayne Taylor Racing), and Cadillac (Chip Ganassi Racing, Action Express Racing).
Ahead of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener Jan. 29–30 at Daytona International Speedway, here is more information you should be aware of:
In January, Peacock will also webcast the following events from Daytona (all times ET):
- January 21 at 2:05 p.m.: IMSA VP Racing Sports Car Challenge.
- Jan. 22: 12:20 p.m., IMSA VP Racing Sports Car Challenge.
- Jan. 22: 1:25 PM, IMSA Rolex 24 qualifying.
- January 27: 1:45 p.m., BMW Endurance Michelin Pilot Challenge.
DRIVER ADDITIONS OF NOTE
Ten active NTT IndyCar Series drivers will compete in the Rolex 24, including Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, who will be paired in an LMP2 vehicle (teammate Will Power unfortunately had to withdraw from this debut).
Colton Herta will go to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s GTP division. With Meyer Shank Racing, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud return to defend their overall 2022 Rolex 24 victory. For his third straight Rolex 24 appearance in the No. 01 Cadillac and his 20th overall, Scott Dixon returns in the elite division with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Other IndyCar drivers competing include: Devlin DeFrancesco (Rick Ware Racing), Rinus VeeKay (TDS Racing), Kyle Kirkwood (returning in GTD with Vasser Sullivan), Romain Grosjean (making his GTD Pro debut with Iron Lynx Racing as a lead-up to driving a GTP Lamborghini next year), Devlin DeFrancesco (Rick Ware Racing), and Devlin DeFrance
Austin Cindric, the winner of the Daytona 500, will also compete again, joining DeFrancesco in an LMP2 car for Rick Ware Racing.
The Rolex 24 field was limited to 61 vehicles, the same number as in 2017. (which was the largest since 2014). Due to space restrictions for the GTP LMDh cars in the pits and garages, the field was capped.
The official 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona entry list can be found here.
In the inaugural pole position of the GTP era, Tom Blomqvist qualified the No. 60 ARX-06 Acura he shares with Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves, and Simon Pagenaud in front of Meyer Shank Racing, the defending race winner.
Porsche Penske Motorsports’ No. 7 Porsche 963 will start second.
The starting lineup for the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona can be found here.
The 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com, and Peacock. Peacock will cover the race from start to finish.
The race will be broadcast live starting on NBC on Saturday, January 28 at 1:30 p.m. ET, moving to USA Network from 2:30 to 8:00 p.m., and then exclusively on Peacock and IMSA.TV from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. ET. Returning to USA Network from midnight to 10 p.m., coverage will then go to Peacock/IMSA.TV till 6 a.m.
On January 29, Rolex 24 coverage will be carried on USA Network from 6 a.m. until noon. From 12 until two in the afternoon, NBC will broadcast the Rolex 24’s finish.
The broadcast schedule for IMSA on NBC Sports for 2023.
The race will be announced by Leigh Diffey with commentators Calvin Fish and Townsend Bell. Brian Till will serve as an analyst for the race as well.
IndyCar on NBC analyst James Hinchcliffe and NASCAR on NBC analysts Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton will join Marty Snider to host coverage from the Peacock Pit Box.
The pit reporters will be Kevin Lee, Parker Kligerman, Dillon Welch, Hannah Newhouse, and Georgia Henneberry. During the race, play-by-play will also be handled by Dave Burns and Lee.