DragonSpeed is set to return to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January with an all-star lineup featuring INDYCAR racers Devlin DeFrancesco, Colton Herta, and Pato O’Ward alongside Bronze-ranked Daytona veteran Eric Lux.
The US-flagged, Barcelona-based DragonSpeed team – LMP2 Pro/Am class winners at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours – has its sights set on returning to Daytona’s victory lane after taking the LMP2 laurels at the Rolex 24 in 2019 and 2020. DeFrancesco and Lux were part of the DragonSpeed squad which claimed third in the 2021 race, and are back with new teammates O’Ward and Herta in 2022.
“The Rolex 24 is always an awesome way to kick off the racing season and I’m really looking forward to returning with DragonSpeed and having my old friends Pato and Colton as part of the package,” DeFrancesco said. “I have a big season ahead of me stepping into INDYCAR but I always find Daytona an energizing start to the year. I expect that will be even more so this January sharing the experience with Colton and Pato! I really enjoyed driving with Elton and the team last year and to come back with this line-up in 2022 is just brilliant.”
Recent Formula 1 tester and Arrow McLaren SP INDYCAR ace O’Ward won the LMPC class on his Rolex debut in 2017, while Andretti Autosport INDYCAR star Herta is also a former winner with BMW in the GTLM class in 2019. Both O’Ward and Herta scored INDYCAR victories in 2021, Colton ending the season with back-to-back victories. Italian-Canadian DeFrancesco, who enters his rookie INDYCAR season in 2022 as stablemate to Herta in his Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport car, makes his fourth LMP2 start at Daytona.
“I’m pretty comfortable at Daytona, but I’ve never driven a prototype before so I’ll be focused on getting to grips with that,” said Herta. “The fact that DragonSpeed have consistently delivered a great car at Daytona is a confidence boost, and I can’t wait to get stuck in with Devlin and Pato. I’ve been really good friends with them for a long time. Teaming up together at the Rolex is going to be a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward just a much to working with Eric as one of the top Bronze drivers. Driving in races like the Rolex is so good for your development as a driver, preparing you for different situations and making you more adaptable in terms of race strategy and driving approach.”
The bonds between the three INDYCAR pilots run even deeper, as they all rose through the ranks together starting in karts and continuing up through Indy Lights, the last rung on the ladder to the NTT INDYCAR Series.
“I think it’s a great lineup which gives us a real shot at winning,” siad O’Ward. “We’re all part of the same generation, so coming together for this race makes a very cool reunion. It’s a long few days in Daytona and it helps to be able to enjoy the experience with your teammates. Sportscar racing is very different from what we do in INDYCAR, with the priority on achieving a balance in the car that all the drivers are comfortable with. The heavy traffic with high closing speeds is another challenge, so factors like patience and consistency are critical at the Rolex.”
A former IMSA Driver Championship winner in LMPC, Eric Lux started – and finished – his first Rolex 24 at age 16. The 2022 running will mark his 12th attempt at the endurance classic, opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.
“2022 will mark my 19th season competing in sportscars and a dozen runs at the Rolex 24,” Lux said. “I’ve come so close to winning this race on several occasions, and for it to become a reality you need the right team, the right car, and the right teammates. I’ve gotten to know Elton as a co-driver, team owner, and friend over the past ten years, and I’m confident that with DragonSpeed, Devlin, Colton, and Pato, we have what it takes to fight for the win. It’s a genuine honor to share the car with these guys, and I can’t wait to get down to business at the Roar!”
The effort will be backed at Daytona by Kimoa, the clothing and accessories brand founded by multi-World Champion Fernando Alonso; jewelry manufacturer Rembrandt Charms; Seattle-based Jones Soda Co.; clean air technology company Atmofizer; electric mobility retailer Simply EV; small-batch ultra-premium NEFT Vodka from Austria; Capstone Green Energy microturbine energy solutions; shipping container leaders Flex-Box; new formula Motul 300V racing motor oil; Electrolit premium hydration drinks; and Gainbridge.
The number 81 DragonSpeed machine will hit the track for the annual Roar Before the 24 test days from 21-23 January in preparation for the 60th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona on 29-30 January.
“This gives our streak of attracting top driving talent to DragonSpeed another massive bump,” said DragonSpeed Team Principal Elton Julian. “We already know how well Eric and Devlin can perform with us at Daytona from last year, and adding two of INDYCAR’s brightest stars to our 2022 squad makes our prospects even more exciting. I can’t help but think it’s too bad we couldn’t secure a DPi for this race, as this line-up clearly deserves one! Most of our LMP2 rivals are capable of delivering a fast, efficient, and reliable run. We aim to do the same and give our all-stars – all with plenty of Daytona experience – the platform they need to make the difference. I’m impressed by IMSA and the turnaround for LMP2 they’ve achieved going into 2022. The Rolex and the rest of the WeatherTech season look to be incredibly competitive, in LMP2 and across the board.”
This comes after the team named both Montoya’s as drivers this season as well.