GRENIER JOINS SUNENERGY 1 RACING AS IT CONFIRMED ITS MERCEDES AMG GT3 ENTRY FOR THE ROLEX 24 GTD CLASS
Mikaël Grenier is the fourth Canadian driver, thus far, to take part in the 2021 Rolex 24 as Zach Robichon(Pfaff Motorsports), Roman De Angelis(The Heart of Racing) and Daniel Morad(Alegra Motorsports) are confirmed for the full IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
Mikaël, who we have seen mostly in the GT World Challenge Europe with Emil Frey Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO, will be competing in a Mercedes AMG GT3 which he is familiar with.
This will be Mikaël’s second presence at Daytona for the Rolex 24. His first presence being back in 2018 also with the SunEnergy 1 Racing squad. Other outings with SunEnergy 1 Racing were at Sebring in 2018 as well as rounds of the Intercontinental GT Challenge at Suzuka and Indianapolis, namely.
“I am really happy to be back at Daytona as it is one of my favourite races to compete in. Of course, it is quite different from the usual race format I am accustomed to since there are many classes competing together and the performance from each being quite different. Nevertheless, it is a good start to my season.”
Mikaël had known for a while team owner Kenny Habul was to enter SunEnergy 1 Racing in this year’s Rolex 24.
“During the Intercontinental GT Challenge at Indianapolis last October, Kenny mentioned the races he would like to participate in for this 2021. Last year, the team had planned to compete a full season in Intercontinental GT Challenge but because of COVID-19, traveling became difficult. Since his team is based out of North Carolina, it make sense to be at Daytona for the Rolex 24. I have known since late November of his plan to be at Daytona but could not publicly announce it.”
The car will be familiar to Mikaël as it is the same car that competed at Indianapolis.
“We will be driving the Mercedes AMG GT3 that we had at Indianapolis as this is the EVO version and it has only one race that it competed in. On our first Rolex 24 in 2018, we ran into many troubles throughout the race. Learning form that, I have to say, Kenny has accomplished a great job in preparing for this year’s Rolex 24. We will have the same engineer as we had at Indianapolis who happens to be a Mercedes engineer as well. The crew will be coming from Europe and they are very knowledgeable of the car as well. So, we are well prepared on the engineering side and mechanics side for this race.”
The team announced today its driver lineup and Mikaël will be in great company sharing the car with team owner Kenny Habul as well as Luca Stolz and Raffaele Marciallo.
German driver Luca Stolz has accumulated many wins in GT machinery since 2016, notably Liqui-moly Bathurst 12 Hour Race – Class A – GT3 Pro-Am and competed in ADAC GT Masters finishing third last season.
Born in Zurich(Switzerland), Raffaelle Marciallo comes from open wheel racing having won the FIA Formula 3 Championship in 2013 and competing in GP2 where he cumulated several podiums and a win over the 2014-2016 seasons. He landed a test at Ferrari F1 in 2014, signed by Sauber F1 as a third driver in 2015 and placed third overall in the 2016 GP2 Championship. He then made the switch to GT racing in 2017 with Mercedes AMG where he is a Factory driver and he has accumulated success with several wins and the driver’s title in what was known as the Blancpain GT Series (now GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, ndlr).
“Luca was with Kenny and I in 2018 for the 10 Hours of Suzuka (in which they won the Pro-Am class, ndlr) and it will be the first time partnering Raffaele. I know both of them very well as we competed against each other in GT World Challenge Europe.”
The Rolex 24 is quite demanding in terms of traffic management over the length of the race with the different categories competing. But that is not something that will hold Mikaël back.
“Kenny and I have raced at Daytona before so we know we have to manage the traffic around us especially this year as there will be the addition of the LMP3 cars. With three prototype categories, it will be demanding. As long as we place our Mercedes AMG GT3 in the right place on the track, we will be ok. Fortunately, with IMSA, should we fall back behind in lap counts there is always a possibility to make it back towards the lead lap of our class with the full course yellow. So, as long as we can stay clean in the first 20 hours, we should be in a good place to fight until the end. The ultimate objective being to win our class.”
The Roar before the Rolex 24 usually takes place in early January with the Rolex 24 following three weeks later. This year is different as the Roar will be held the weekend before the Rolex.
“I think it is a good idea for the Roar to be the week before as traveling is complicated with the COVID-19 restrictions. On the logistic side, it is easier. Ultimately, the teams would retreat to their race shop after the Roar to go through a rebuild of their car for the Rolex and with more time to prepare. It will surely be a time crunch to prepare the cars for the Rolex 24. But for us, there is a positive side to it as we are to drive two weekend in a row.”
Also, there is a new approach to qualifying this year to determine the starting grid of the Rolex 24 with an hour and forty minutes sprint race to take place on Sunday January 22 Motul Pole Award 100. Click this link to read more about it.
“It will be an interesting qualifying for sure. So far, I have seen a minimum of 16 GTD entries and that number might just grow as we get closer to the Roar. Evidently, there will be no risk to take during that qualifying race but we will see how it develops. Most important is to have a good strategy for the race.”
Main image: Emil Frey Racing / SunEnergy 1 Racing image courtesy International GT Challenge
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