TUDOR United SportsCar

TUSCC: GT Daytona Grid Small, But Deep In Talent For 2015

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — With an adaptation of the FIA GT3 regulations set to take over in time for the 2016 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, one might be fast to call this season in the GT Daytona division as a transitional year or even using a harsher term “throw-away year.” However, that is only from the outside view. When a closer inspection is taken a strong field is expected to take the green flag in less than two months time for the season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona. Although the defending champions from Turner Motorsport will be absent on the 2015 grid as they have elected to try their luck in the Pirelli World Challenge Series, there is still a strong backbone that will exist featuring six major players from last year’s championship battle.

The potential power player among the full time runners could be Alex Job Racing, who return with a two-car team in 2015 the second of which was confirmed earlier this week. It is this second Porsche GT America with Leh Keen and Cooper MacNeil handling the driving duties who stand the best chance to claim a championship, despite the fact the team was unable to claim a class victory in 2014. The other half of the squad featuring Ian James and Mario Farnbacher also should be a factor for the winner’s circle at some point in the 2015 campaign. The other hope for the Porsche marque comes from Magnus Racing, who despite a look into joining the FIA World Endurance Championship have elected to give it another go in the TUSCC for 2015. Both Andy Lally and John Potter are expected to be back to handle the piloting chores after teaming up to claim victory at last year’s 12 Hours of Sebring.

Ferrari is also likely to challenge for the GTD title in 2015, as Rolex 24 at Daytona defending champions Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler will be back in the saddle, but for a different organization. After AIM Autosport was unable to find the necessary budget to continue, the tandem moved their services to Scuderia Corsa, who helped Alessandro Balzan claim the Rolex Sports Car Series GT Driver’s title in 2013. With Balzan at the helm, Scuderia Corsa claimed victories at both Detroit and Indianapolis last season.

Audi has also become a player in the past few seasons in both Grand-Am and the United SportsCar Championship, and should continue the momentum garnered by Paul Miller Racing, who claimed the 2014 season finale at Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans. Although a regular driving lineup has yet to be revealed, there is a good chance that Audi-sponsored pilot Christopher Haase could return. Haase was one of the circuit’s most consistent drivers last season.

Another manufacturer that could show championship potential in 2015 is Aston Martin, who with TRG Motorsports are expected to enter at least one V-12 powered Vantage GT3. The car was quick in qualifying trim, claiming multiple TOTAL Pole Awards to close out the 2014 campaign, yet the team was unable to back up the speed in the races themselves. With a year of development in the bank, one should expect a greater challenge from both James Davison and the up and coming Christina Nielsen, who will enter her first full year of sports car competition in the U.S.

The final challenger for championship glory is the Riley Engineering Dodge Viper. The team claimed a victory in Canada last season, but the forecast for 2015 could be potentially iffy. Following Chrysler’s withdrawal from sports car competition following the end of last season, the team will be running without factory support, which could make the road difficult for Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating, who will both return to the cockpit next season.

With official testing set to kickoff in just over a month from now, it is difficult to say who among the full time runners may have the edge, but without a dominant force in play, a very competitive title chase could be in the cards in the TUSCC’s slowest, yet deepest class that sports car racing has to offer.

Stay tuned to Rubbings Racing for further news and previews looking ahead to sports car racing in the 2015 calendar year.

 

 

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About Matt Embury

Matt Embury is the Senior SportsCar Writer at Rubbings Racing and can be followed on Twitter (@MattEmbury) for the latest sports car news and opinions. A native of Mishawaka, Indiana, he has been following sports car racing for nearly 20 years.

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1 Comment

  1. ViperFan55

    December 11, 2014 at 6:30 am

    I have noticed in two articles that you have written you are crediting the #33 Dodge Viper GT3R owned by Ben Keating and managed by Riley Technologies with only 1 win at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. They also won their class at the Lone Star Le Mans at COTA.

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