MIAMI, FL (Monday, January 4, 2020) – Italian/Canadian racer Devlin DeFrancesco will contest his third Rolex 24 at Daytona this month, joining the defending LMP2 class race-winning squad, DragonSpeed.
The 20-year-old Miami-based racer will join German GT standouts Christopher Mies and Fabian Schiller and American racer Eric Lux in the Elton Julian-run DragonSpeed No.18 Oreca O7-Gibson LMP2 entry.
First run as a 24-hour race in 1966, the Rolex 24 at Daytona is one of the world’s most prestigious endurance events and doubles as the opening round of the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.
Run on January 30 and 31, this year’s Rolex 24 will be DeFrancesco’s third assault on the Daytona International Speedway event. The talented open-wheel racer has shown impressive speed in his previous Rolex starts – finishing sixth overall with JDC-Miller MotorSports in 2018 and returning the following year in 2019 to finish fifth alongside one of his mentors – Ferrari Formula 1 legend, Rubens Barrichello.
The Rolex 24 with DragonSpeed campaign will kick off DeFrancesco’s 2021 race season, which will feature his graduation on the “Road to Indy” as he makes his debut in Indy Lights with the Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport squad.
In 2020, DeFrancesco made his full-time North American debut in Indy Pro 2000. His stunning season included two wins, six podiums, three pole positions, and 15 top tens – combining to earn him second place in the championship and rookie of the year honors.
DeFrancesco’s Indy Lights campaign will also kick off in Florida with the opening round scheduled for the streets of St Petersburg on March 6-7.
On-track action at Daytona begins with the “Roar before the 24” test on January 22-24, with the full race week action for the Rolex 24 scheduled from January 27-31. DeFrancesco’s No. 18 DragonSpeed entry will be one of two cars entered by the team – the second car driven by Rob Hodes, Garret Grist, Rinus Veekay, and Ben Hanley.
Run by former racer Elton Julian from premises in Spain, the American-flagged DragonSpeed team has proved its mettle in a wide variety of machinery since its debut in 2010.
It scored the best-ever Rolex 24 result for a Ferrari F430 in 2011, followed in 2013 by an ALMS LMPC season, while 2015 brought DragonSpeed eight GTA-class race wins and its first championship crown in the Pirelli World Challenge for GT3 cars.
DragonSpeed capitalized on its breakthrough 2016 LMP2 season, fielding two cars and winning the ELMS title in 2017. In 2019, DragonSpeed became the first LMP2 team to win races in WEC, IMSA, and European Le Mans Series competition.
The team successfully defended its Rolex 24 at Daytona LMP2 class victory in 2020 and finished the Indianapolis 500 before shelving its Indycar effort.
DragonSpeed maintains its global sportscar footprint for 2021, with a full-season FIA World Endurance Championship campaign (including its fifth Le Mans 24 Hours) combined with its IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup program.
DEVLIN DE FRANCESCO Q&A
Q: What is it like to begin the 2021 race season close to home?
A: “Miami has been my family home since I was seven years old and I love racing in my home state as a lot of friends, family, and sponsors come out to watch me and my team when I race here.
“The Rolex 24 is such an amazing event with global recognition, and it’s awesome to be a part of it. This year I want to make sure I make the drive home wearing that Rolex Daytona watch on my wrist.
“DragonSpeed has put together an awesome team and always rolls out a very fast car so I know we can get it done this year.”
Q: What are the biggest differences between racing single-seaters and contesting endurance events like the Rolex 24?
A: “Racing through the night, dealing with traffic, and working with your teammates on set-up were some of the most significant differences I discovered when I first did the race in 2018.
“The prototype cars have a lot more power than the single-seaters I’ve driven in the past but also aren’t quite as nimble.
“As a young driver, I’ve found the experience of doing these endurance races extremely valuable and has made me into a more well-rounded racer.”
Q: You were still a teenager when you did your first Rolex 24; what was that experience like?
A: “I was fortunate to be able to learn from guys like Juan Pablo Montoya and Rubens Barrichello who have tremendous experience in these types of races.
“Juan Pablo and Rubens have been great mentors for me, and I had Rubens as my teammate at Daytona in 2019.
“All three of us are ambassadors for Allinsports simulators, and I was able to learn from these guys how they use the sim as part of their preparation for race weekends.”
Q: How much are you looking forward to the entire 2021 season?
A: “The Rolex 24 is a great way to kick off the year and will ensure that I’m sharp and race-ready when I first climb aboard the Indy Lights car.
“I had a great season last year in Indy Pro 2000, and I’m thrilled to again be working with Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport as we make the step up to Lights.
“The team has a great history in Indy Lights and Michael (Andretti) and George (Steinbrenner) are very hands-on and supportive every race weekend, so I know they will have a great car ready for me every time I climb in.”
“I’m really looking forward to having more power and more downforce in the Indy Lights car – I can’t wait for the season to begin.”