BMW Endurance Challenge preview
A week after putting a new car through its first paces and acclimating themselves to a few new crew members, Michael Johnson and Stephen Simpson and the Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) team will apply that experience to live action when they race in the 2022 BMW Endurance Challenge at world-renowned Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Fla.
The four-hour race on the 3.56-mile DIS track, which is scheduled to go green on Friday, Jan. 28, at 1:35 p.m. ET, officially kicks off the 2022 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season.
Johnson and Simpson previewed the Daytona International Speedway track in their new Universal Coating No. 54 Hyundai Elantra N TCR car at last weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24, an event which provided five practice sessions over the span of three days.
“I’m very excited to be back here at Daytona. We have had good success here in the past. I felt good in the ROAR this past week, so I am feeling good for the race weekend,” said Johnson.
A year ago, Johnson and Simpson opened the 2021 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season successfully, claiming third place at the BMW Endurance Challenge, marking the third-consecutive season the duo has earned a podium finish at Daytona.
The weather forecast is unexpected for Florida, even during the month of January. The high temperature is only projected to reach 47 degrees but with sunny skies. Winds are expected to be from the northwest at 20 miles per hour.
“We had a productive ROAR last weekend,” said Simpson. “We were able to get in quite a few more laps into our new car. We were able to iron out any kinks we had. Michael did a really good job with his updated hand control system. We also were able to build up a positive relationship with Chris, our new engineer, and we have a few new mechanics for this year. It was a good opportunity to build some chemistry with our crew.
“Looking ahead to the race, we are ready to adapt to changeable conditions, but I’m feeling good regardless of the weather. I am feeling confident either way. Michael is doing really well with his preparation and with making improvements. We are ready for race time.”
Johnson and Simpson will be back on the track in the Universal Coating No. 54 Hyundai Elantra N TCR car on Thursday, March 17 (4:25 p.m.) for the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120, the next race on the Michelin Pilot Challenge schedule. The two-hour race is held at the 3.74-mile, 17-corner Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla.