WRT Audi squad to enter 2019 Daytona 24 Hours with single R8 LMS
|By Jamie Klein||Saturday, December 22nd 2018, 10:56 GMT|
The WRT Audi team has confirmed it will contest the 2019 Daytona 24 Hours IMSA SportsCar Championship opener with a single GT Daytona class R8 LMS.
The long-time Audi customer squad's entry into the race, as predicted by Autosport, will be run under the 'Audi Sport experience WRT Speedstar' banner and is backed by Audi Canada.
Factory Audi racers Kelvin van der Linde and Frederic Vervisch are joined by veteran sportscar racer Ian James and Canadian teenager Roman de Angelis for the Daytona race.
Van der Linde moves across from fellow Audi outfit Land Motorsport, with which he made his first Daytona appearance last year.
Of Land's 2018 lineup for the '19 edition, only Christopher Mies remains on board, with Dries Vanthoor, Daniel Morad and Ricardo Feller all joining the team.
Both the WRT and Land teams are part of a 23-strong GTD entry that was confirmed for the 'Roar Before the 24' test that takes place on January 4-6.
A nine-strong GT Le Mans contingent and 15 prototypes split across the Daytona Prototype International and LMP2 divisions, will also take part.
Only four LMP2 cars will be present, with DragonSpeed fielding two ORECA 07s alongside full-season entries from PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports and Performance Tech.
It has also been announced that the winner of the 2018 Sunoco Whelen Challenge, BRDC Formula 3 champion Linus Lundqvist, will contest the Daytona race in the GTD class.
In recent years, the winner of the prize has been placed in the #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac, with 2017 challenge winner Stuart Middleton going on to finish second overall at this year's Daytona 24 alongside Mike Conway, Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran.
But Lundqvist will join the Precision Performance Motorsports team in a GTD-class Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
Anders Hildebrand, managing director of Sunoco parent firm Anglo American Oil Company, explained the change for 2019.
"For the last four years, thanks to support from Sonny Whelen of Whelen Engineering, we have been placing the Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner in the #31 Whelen-sponsored Action Express run Cadillac DPi race car," he said.
"However, with the increasing level of competitiveness in the top class we feel that the pressure imposed on our winner will take out the enjoyment of this, maybe once in a lifetime experience.
"Sonny and I therefore decided for 2019 that we should place our winner in the GTD class, which has a mix of Pro and Am drivers and a class that would really make our Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner shine."