• Tim Fullbrook

POV: You don't know who to support in the 2022 Rolex 24

Whether you're new to the race, or just bewildered by the entry list, here's a helping hand to help choose your cars.

The 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona promises to be filled to the brim of incredible sportscar racing action. One of the best ways to stay up to speed with the action is to pick a handful of cars, potentially one in each class, and keep tabs on their races.

This is easier said than done with a grid three times the size of your average F1 field, and more than 200 drivers. It can be a bit daunting working out which cars are 'yours', especially if you're new to the sport, so here's a guide to help you pick your horses for this incredible event based on a title that best describes you. Remember there are three or four drivers in every car, so make sure to check out the full entry list here

so you know who's with your favourite drivers (cough Alonso fans cough).

You're a Toyota WEC fan

Good news. If you've been a Toyota fan for a few years in WEC, or indeed have backed their Le Mans-winning run in the GR010 Hypercar, then you'll find the reigning Drivers' champions on the grid. Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi have made the January trip to Daytona for a handful of seasons now, with the Japanese driver winning the race overall back-to-back in 2019-2020 with Wayne Taylor Racing. This year they must've convinced their Argentine teammate in the #7 Toyota to join them, as José Maria Lopez makes his debut at the Floridian enduro with Jimmie Johnson's Ally Cadillac team alongside Kobayashi.

Mike Conway - #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac - DPi

Kamui Kobayashi, José Maria Lopez - #48 Ally Cadillac - DPi

You like watching racing where they only turn left

For years the opening race of the IMSA season often attracted multiple names from the NASCAR world, and as recently as 2017 an oval legend bagged themselves a Rolex as Jeff Gordon won alongside Max Angelleli and the Taylor brothers at Wayne Taylor Racing.

This year the list of drivers hailing from the biggest motorsport in the USA is unfortunately smaller, but nonetheless notable.

Nine-times champion Jimmie Johnson enters his second season in the WeatherTech Sportscar championship, looking to develop on his debut year in DPi class whilst balancing the endurance races with a full-time IndyCar drive.

Further down the grid, Team Penske's Austin Cindric returns for his fourth run at the Rolex 24. A best result of fourth in the GTD class in 2019 certainly whet his appetite for endurance racing glory. However, it's an unfortunate fact that the 23 year-old is the only active NASCAR driver in the field, something we hope changes in 2023.

Jimmie Johnson - #48 Ally Cadillac - DPi

Austin Cindric - #15 Proton USA Mercedes (WeatherTech Livery) - GTD PRO

You're sad Mazda left DPi in 2021

There's no need to hide it; we're all upset at the fact a Mazda prototype isn't on the Rolex 24 grid for the first time in the United SportsCar era.

But fear not, the drivers that brought the stunning RT24-P to victory lane are active in this weekend's race across the DPi and LMP2 classes.

One of the headline stars of the Mazda programme was Brit Harry Tincknell, who joins the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports crew for his sixth attempt at picking up a Rolex watch. The 30 year-old is reunited with former-teammate Jonathan Bomarito in the #11. The third driver in the epic 2021 Petit Le Mans victory, Oliver Jarvis, makes the switch to Meyer Shank Racing to remain in the DPi class. The British driver believes he's found a "new home" at the squad, and looks in fine form coming into this weekend's race.

Oliver Jarvis - #60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura - DPi

Jonathan Bomarito, Harry Tincknell - #11 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA - LMP2

The last F1 season you watched was in 2015

The Rolex 24 is no stranger to hosting a driver or two who made their name in Formula One, with the most memorable example coming in 2018 – when Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll both made ultimately unsuccessful bids to bag themselves a watch over their off-season. But of the eight drivers on this year's entry list with at least 1 Grand Prix start, six of them can trace their career back to 2015. Will Stevens ran his one and only F1 campaign that year, and at the struggling Manor squad would rotate seats with Alexander Rossi. They shared a car then, and seven years later they are reunited aboard the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura.

Stevens and Manor weren’t the only team that season who failed to turn any laps in Free Practice 1 for that year's Australian Grand Prix, and all 3 drivers from the other team to do so – Sauber – are also present this weekend. To cast you minds back, Sauber ended up signing 3 drivers for the 2015 season, so whilst the courts decided who got to drive they avoided track time upon fear of having their assets seized. In the end, Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr ended up landing the seats, and this year they take up positions on the Rolex 24 grid in different classes. The Swede will be driving for Cadillac Racing this weekend, making his DPi debut, whilst defending DPi champion Nasr has made the move to GTD PRO to compete for Pfaff Motorsports.

Giedo Van Der Garde drew the short straw at that bizarre opening Grand Prix of 2015, but in 2022 the popular Dutchman, is teaming up with his now-regular co-driver Frits Van Eerd to lead the #29 Racing Team Nederland LMP2 entry.

Ericsson isn’t the only former F1 ace in the Chip Ganassi Racing-run #02, with Dane Kevin Magnussen also making up a part of their quartet. Magnussen made just a sole F1 start back in 2015, subbing in for the injured Fernando Alonso in Australia.

Marcus Ericsson, Kevin Magnussen - #02 Cadillac Racing - DPi

Alexander Rossi, Will Stevens - #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura - DPi

Giedo van der Garde - #29 Racing Team Nederland ORECA - LMP2

Felipe Nasr - #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche - GTD PRO

Photo: Tyler Duane (@tylerduanephoto)

You like McLarens

One of the delights of the stacked Rolex 24 grid this year is the addition of two McLaren 720S entries, a car which was absent from the 2021 season. Crucial Motorsports debut in IMSA this weekend, and will be racing in the endurance events across the season. Their #59 car has shown pace across the Roar testing and qualifying race, starting the 24 hours from second in GTD and the fourth best GT car. The second 720S is entered by Inception Racing who debuted in the series at Petit Le Mans at the end of last year, returning for a slice of the GTD action with the #70 car.

Both cars stand a good chance of a podium, or at least a top five result in the super competitive GTD category. Lance Bergstein/Jon Miller/Patrick Gallagher/Paul Holton - #59 Crucial Motorsports McLaren - GTD

Brendan Iribe/Frederik Schandorff/Ollie Millroy/Jordan Pepper - #70 Inception Racing - GTD

You used to watch the American Le Mans Series

Throughout the 2000s, the American Le Mans Series offered the peak of prototype and GT competition with Acura, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Panoz and Porsche among the many marques to compete on some of America’s finest road and street courses. And although this year will mark a decade since we first heard the news of the championships demise, the series’ legacy still lives on with X former teams still going strong in IMSA this season.

PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports and CORE Autosport were both ever-presents in LMPC from its founding in 2010, the latter sweeping the Teams Championships, whilst Andretti Autosport saw success during their time as an Acura LMP2 team, and Performance Tech Motorsports and Dragonspeed both also cut their teeth in LMPC.

What the latter years of the ALMS will really be remembered for, though, is the incredible GT class, and the legacy of that can still be seen in GTD PRO. Corvette Racing, BMW Team RLL and Risi Competizone, who between them won 15 Teams Championships, are all still going strong, whilst GTD includes the Northwest AMR whose operating team Prodrive ran under the Aston Martin Racing banner with GT1, LMP1 and GTE machinery.

Jonathan Bomarito/Harry Tincknell/Jossh Pierson/Steven Thomas - #11 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports - LMP2

Scott Huffaker/Mikkel Jensen/Ben Keating/Nicolas Lapierre - #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports - LMP2

Devlin DeFrancesco/Colton Herta/Eric Lux/Patricio O’Ward - #81 Dragonspeed USA - LMP2

Jarett Andretti/Josh Burdon/Gabby Chaves/Rasmus Lindh - #36 Andretti Autosport - LMP3

Hikaru Abe/Garett Grist/Danuel Goldburg/Nico Pino - #38 Performance Tech Motorsports - LMP3

Jon Bennett/Colin Braun/Niclas Jonsson/George Kurtz - #54 CORE Autosport - LMP3

Nicky Catsburg/Antonio Garcia/Jordan Taylor - #3 Corvette Racing - GTD PRO

Tommy Milner/Marco Sorensen/Nick Tandy - #4 Corvette Racing - GTD PRO

Philipp Eng/Sheldon Van Der Linde/Marco Wittmann/Nick Yelloly - #24 BMW M Team RLL - GTD PRO

John Edwards/Augusto Farfus/Jesse Krohn/Connor De Phillippi - #25 BMW M Team RLL - GTD PRO

James Calado/Alessandro Pier Guidi/Davide Rigon/Dnaiel Serra - #62 Risi Competizone – GTD PRO

Charlie Eastwood/Paul Dalla Lana/David Pittard/Nicki Thiim - #98 Northwest AMR - GTD

A massive thanks to Ewan Wane for contributing to this article

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