|Photo Credit Ford Motor Company|
Now in a new year, the traditional auto racing calender gears for a complete reset. New races, new championships and new possibilities all exist in the motorsport world. Canadian Formula 1 prospect 17-year-old Lance Stroll will start his 2016 season with an entirely foreign experience. Just barely old enough to possess a driver's license in most parts of the world, Stroll will participant in driving one an IMSA prototype machine at this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona.
A 2014 Formula 4 Italian Championship title winner and winner in Formula 3 this year, Stroll is quickly asserting himself as one of Canada's most promising young talents. Observing the progression of a rising star, Lance Stroll ended last year signing as development driver with the Williams Martini Racing Formula 1 team. For 2016, the teenage driving prospect will compete in his first major sports car event with Chip Ganassi Racing. Stroll will be competing in the prestigious Rolex 24 of Daytona as part of a four-driver team in a #01 Ford EcoBoost-powered Riley.
Set to run the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona as a rookie in professional sports car competition, Lance Stroll is included with seasoned, elite company. Among the most noted is past Formula 1 driver and two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Alex Wurz. The around-the-clock Daytona race is one of the only major sports car event Wurz has yet to win in his career. A three-time overall champion in the World Touring Car Championship Andy Priaulx is also a 2011 GT class winner of the 12 Hours of Sebring. Completing the globally-compiled driver line-up in #01 car will be Porsche factory pilot Brendon Hartley. Driving the Porsche 919 Hybrid in the World Endurance Championship's LMP1 class in 2015, Hartley and his #17 Porsche team took the series championship in their category.
While much of the focus is on the Ford GT's entrance in sports car racing under the Chip Ganassi Racing banner, an all-new team of drivers is assembled to field two Ford EcoBoost prototypes for the major sports car racing at Daytona International Speedway. Chip Ganassi Racing has won the top honours in the Rolex 24 at Daytona six times since 2006 including last year with a race-prepped version of Ford's twin-turbocharged, direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 engine. The Ford-powered Riley chassis race cars also posted a victory at the Circuit of the Americas IMSA race in Austin, Texas with Scott Pruett and Joey Hand behind the wheel.
Besides the #01 with Stroll and company, Chip Ganassi Racing will field the #02 vehicle in the prototype class shared by NASCAR as well as IndyCar stars. Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson arrive from Ganassi's NASCAR organization while Tony Kanaan and 2015 IndyCar chmpion Scott Dixon come from open wheel. Judging from the use of a driving team of one-off drivers and The deployment of the Ford EcoBoost prototypes could be the only time Chip Ganassi Racing will compete in the top sports car category this season. The team has stated sponsors and liveries of the vehicles will be unveiled in the coming weeks.