The defending Rolex 24 at Daytona LMP2 class-winning DragonSpeed team will expand its 2021 IMSA program to field a single ORECA 07-Gibson entry in the Michelin Endurance Cup. The four-race endurance series within the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship features the Rolex 24, Mobil1 Sebring 12 Hours, Sahlen’s 6 Hours of the Glen, and Motul Petit Le Mans.
The number 81 car’s charge will be led by American Rob Hodes and Canadian Garett Grist, the duo graduating from the European Le Mans Series, where they shared an LMP3 for Neilsen Racing last season. They will be supported at Daytona by 2020 NTT IndyCar Series Rookie-of-the-Year Rinus Veekay and DragonSpeed anchorman Ben Hanley, the 2020 LMP2 victor starting his sixth season with the Elton Julian-helmed team.
Bronze driver Hodes rose through the Ferrari and Lamborghini one-make ranks before moving up to LMP3 in 2018 and claiming a podium on his LMP2 debut at Petit Le Mans this year. A regular race winner on the Road to Indy ladder early in his career, the Silver-rated Grist made the switch to sports cars in 2017, quickly demonstrating pace and consistency in LMP3 and enjoying his first taste of LMP2 at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
Rob Hodes said, “I am super thrilled to be entering my first 24-hour race with an outstanding team like DragonSpeed. My teammates couldn’t be better – it’s an honor to go racing with drivers of the caliber of my LMP3 partner Garett, Rinus, and Ben. I’ve got to thank Charles Crews for bringing it all together on short notice. The Rolex will be a great challenge, but I like our chances!”
Garett Grist said, “It’s great to be joining DragonSpeed for Daytona and the full Michelin Endurance Cup. I learned a lot about LMP2 at Le Mans this year and look forward to bringing those lessons to our IMSA campaign. We should have one of the strongest lineups with two Indycar drivers and Rob Hodes, who has come on incredibly strong the last few seasons, combined with the team that has won the last two Rolex 24s in LMP2. My thanks to Rob and the team for this opportunity.”
Rinus Veekay said, “For my first Rolex 24 I want to compete for the win in our class and I know I can do that with DragonSpeed and this exciting driver lineup. I want to thank Rob for making me a part of this effort and his confidence in me. I can’t wait for my IMSA debut, and the chance to fight for the top step of the LMP2 podium.”
Ben Hanley said, “It’s great to be heading back to Daytona in the 81 car to go for another win in LMP2 with such an impressive group of new teammates along with our incredibly dedicated and loyal crew. We’re all hoping for the pandemic to ease off a bit in time for the Roar Before the 24 test starting on January 22nd. I’m looking forward to the new format for the Roar as well as my fourth Rolex 24.”
“We are very pleased to welcome Rob and Garett to the DragonSpeed family,” said team principal Elton Julian. “They have both impressed us on track in the ELMS, and we look forward to helping them make the transition to LMP2, aided by the extra seat time offered by the Michelin Endurance Cup. Our target is to chase podiums and score enough points to be in the hunt for the title at the end. The competition in IMSA’s LMP2 category is stronger than ever, so we are delighted to add the talents of Rinus Veekay and Ben Hanley as co-drivers at Daytona.”