I’m jet-setting from a bitter cold and snowy Michigan to the slightly warmer beaches of Florida to take part in the magic that is this year’s 60th Rolex 24 at Daytona. And I’m inviting you to join me, as I struggle to keep myself awake for more than 30 hours straight to watch and take everything in.
Emphasis on the “taking everything in,” because this race has a lot to follow, from the teams, to the classes, even what you should and could be watching for. So to make it a little easier, I’m breaking it down for you, with a short reference guide — short enough that you can sound like an expert when talking to friends and family while watching the race this weekend but without having to spend too much time educating yourself.
This is most likely the most difficult part of the race to keep track of. There are 61 cars taking on the 3.56 mile road course at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. Those sixty cars are divided into the two styles of Prototype and GTD, which are then broken down into a total of five classes: DPi, LMP2, LMP3, GTD Pro and GTD.
Prototypes are typically the fastest cars on the circuit and are divided into three classes: the Daytona Prototype International or DPi, Le Mans Prototype 2 or LMP2, and Le Mans Prototype 3 known as LMP3. While body styles do differ slightly between the three classes, these are still a single-cockpit-style vehicle with a very large, defined shark fin down the middle.
DPi: How DPi stands out from the rest of the prototypes is the engine manufacturers, backed by recognizable names like Acura, Cadillac and Mazda. While chassis specifications are similar, teams can adapt body styles to reflect constructor’s design aesthetics from their road-production vehicles.
Not only can you spot them by their brand names, but you can find them with the white tail end to the shark fin, and the white dial numbers on the side of the car indicating the car’s position in the race.
LMP2 & LMP3: Both LMP categories are also closed cockpit cars and developed by four different approved constructors. The differences come down to who is driving, and their competition eligibility.
LMP2 cars are eligible to compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while the LMP3 category is an entry-level car, eligible to compete in the IMSA Prototype Challenge and international series including the European Le Mans Series.
What’s most important for you this weekend is that LMP2 cars are noted with blue details and lighting, while LMP3 can be noted by orange-red details and lighting.
Grand Touring: The biggest change for this year is the elimination of the GTLM (Grand Touring Le Mans) Class, which in past years was the home of the manufacturers’ factory teams. The GTLM class was retired at the end of the 2021 season, with factory teams absorbed into the Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD Pro) class for 2022.
The new GTD class breakdowns are not that complicated to distinguish. Both the GTD Pro and GTD classes will run on the same FIA GT3-based technical specifications. To put this even more simply, they look like real cars, but have race-specific requirements to be competitive and safe on the track.
Really, the difference to these two classes comes down to the teams and drivers. GTD Pro will run professional drivers and will also remain home to manufacturer teams, while GTD will focus on customer racing with professional and amateur drivers.
You can spot a GTD car easily because they look like their (expensive) daily driving counterparts. The catch in differentiating between the GTD Pro and GTD… GTD Pro will wear red accents, while the GTD class will sport green (they also deck out windows and other trim areas with what looks like rope lighting so you can really spot them).
There may be five classes, and five pole-winners, but the main attractions are the overall for Prototype and GTD. Leading the Prototype charge again this year is the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05. The team landed a second pole for Rolex as an Acura-backed team last weekend. In 2021, the team strolled into victory for Rolex, but lost an overall season win by 11 points to the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.
And a new team will be leading the GTD classes for 2022 on Saturday, the No. 63 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3. I’ll update this with the official qualifying list once it’s available from IMSA.
You can also look to match cars you spot on the track with their teams, drivers and classes by using this handy Spotter’s Guide.
Saturday, January 29, 2022
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on NBC
1:35 p.m. t0 11:59 p.m. on IMSA TV
1:40 p.m. t0 11:59 p.m. on Peacock
4:00 p.m. t0 7:00 p.m. with coverage beginning again at 10:00 p.m. on USA
Sunday, January 30, 2022
Midnight t0 3:00 a.m. with coverage resuming 6:00 a.m. to noon on USA
Midnight t0 1:40 p.m. on Peacock
Midnight t0 1:40 p.m.on IMSA TV
Noon to 2:00 p.m. on NBC
You can also listen to coverage of the entire race on IMSA Radio, the IMSA app, and on XM 202, Sirius XM Web/App 992.
While I’m there, let me know what you want to know about the race, or feel free to ask questions in real time! Follow me on Twitter and Instagram via @LalitaChemello, and if I can’t answer your question, I will do my best to find a qualified professional to get you an answer.
I’ll see you on the other side!