BMW Endurance Challenge Rolex 24 preview
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A new season. A new car. A fresh start.
Following a 2019 season too frequently marred by misfortune, co-drivers Michael Johnson and Stephen Simpson and the JDC-Miller Motorsports team are back, determined and ready to challenge for title glory in this year’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
The first step towards that goal begins on Friday, Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. when Johnson and Simpson race in the BMW Endurance Challenge, as part of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, at famed Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. The duration of the BMW Endurance Challenge is four hours on the 3.56-mile DIS track.
“I’m very excited for the first race of the season, here at Daytona International Speedway,” said Johnson. “Last year I got my first career pole so I’m looking forward for a repeat and to win the race with Stephen Simpson. It should be a fun one!”
Earlier this month at the at the Roar Before the Rolex at Daytona, a practice run for the BMW Endurance Challenge, the team started strong in its new version of the Universal Coating No. 54 Audi RS 3 LMS TCR.
It finished Day 1 of sessions by recording the fourth-fastest lap (106.234 mph) in the TCR class. That position held out through Day 2 of competition. Then they ended on a high note, as Simpson broke the two-minute mark during the final practice, topping the TCR class at 1:59.846 (106.932 mph) for the entire weekend.
“I am looking forward to getting the 2020 season underway,” said Simpson. “We had a great test at the Roar a couple of weeks ago and feel very prepared going into the four-hour race on Friday. The team has been doing a great job and Michael has been making a lot of progress. We are eager to kick off our 2020 season in the right way and in a successful way. It will be a long, tough race and the competition has increased this year over last. I am excited to get on the track and to do a great job.”
A year ago, Johnson found success in qualifying at Daytona, as he broke the TCR course record by over two seconds en route to securing the pole position with a record time of 1:58.433.
The BMW Endurance Challenge will be streamed live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. The NBCSN television broadcast will air on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 1 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio will also provide live coverage of the race.
The weather forecast on race day in Daytona, if it holds true, will produce ideal conditions, as it is calling for mostly cloudy conditions with temperatures in the mid 70s. Winds will be from the south at nine miles per hour. Chances of precipitation are set at just 20 percent.
Johnson and Simpson will be back in action in the Universal Coating No. 54 Audi RS 3 LMS TCSR car on Thursday, March 19 for the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120, the next race on the Michelin Pilot Challenge docket. The 2-hour event is held at 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla.
The Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 is scheduled to go green at 12:05 p.m. The race will be streamed live at IMSA.com and FansChoice.tv.