Six Kiwis will be on hand for their first official hitout of 2024 when the IMSA season kicks off with the annual Roar Before the 24 practice and qualifying sessions this weekend.
Scott Dixon, Brendon Hartley, Tom Blomqvist, Scott McLaughlin, Hunter McElrea and Earl Bamber will be present.
Teams will take to the track for six practice sessions over the weekend, beginning their program with a 90-minute session from 5.00 am (NZ Time) on Saturday.
The weekend’s action concludes with qualifying for the 24 Hours of Daytona, which runs from 7.55 am on Monday.
The Rolex 24 at Daytona is the season’s first endurance race, taking place the following weekend on the Daytona International Speedway Road Course.
Four manufacturers will compete amongst a 10-strong Hypercar contingent, with Porsche, Acura, BMW and Cadillac having machinery on the grid.
Lamborghini’s new SC63 will not be present at Daytona, with the car instead set to debut at the World Endurance Championship’s Qatar round. Iron Lynx will compete in the car for the first time in North America at the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 13-16.
Sixty cars, comprised of 10 GTP Hypercars, 13 LMP2, 12 GTD Pro, and 25 GTD, will race in this year’s event.
Dixon, Hartley and Blomqvist will be in action in the GTP class, the latter having won the race with Mayer Shank Racing in 2023. With the team not running in IMSA in 2024, instead focusing on their IndyCar campaign, Blomqvist, who holds the lap record at the venue, joins Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken at Action Express Racing in a Cadillac V-Series.R.
Dixon returns to Chip Ganassi Racing’s Cadillac Racing entry, partnering Sebastien Bourdais, Renger van der Zande and Indycar champion Alex Palou in another V-Series.R.
Hartley returns for Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti, joining Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Marcus Ericsson, looking to go one better in the #10 Acura ARX-06, which finished as runner-up in 2023.
McLaughlin and McElrea join the LMP2 field, the former returning to 12 Hours of Sebring-winning Tower Motorsports alongside John Ferano, Michael Dinan and a fourth driver who is yet to be confirmed.
McElrea makes his TDS Racing and 24 Hours of Daytona debut, partnering Steven Thomas, Mikkel Jensen and Charles Milesi in the #11 Oreca 07-Gibson.
Bamber is New Zealand’s sole competitor in the GTD Pro class, fronting up for Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports with Tommy Milner and Nicky Catsburg in the #4 Corvette Z06 GT3.R.
New Zealanders can watch qualifying on IMSA’s streaming platform, IMSA.tv. The Rolex 24 at Daytona race begins at 7.30 am on Sunday, January 28.
Header Image: IMSA