Full season drivers Willsey and Barbosa to be joined by multi-series race winner Nolan Siegel and European open wheel standout Jonny Edgar
JUPITER, Fla. (4 January 2024) – With preseason testing complete, Sean Creech Motorsport (SCM) has set its lineup for the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s season opener, the 62nd Rolex 24 at Daytona (Saturday, January 27 at 1:40 p.m.). The race marks the first round of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, which will feature five endurance events for the first time in 2024.
Full season SCM drivers Lance Willsey and João Barbosa will be joined by a pair of talented 19-year-olds: Nolan Siegel, who helped pace the team to a second-place finish at Daytona last January, and European junior open wheel star Jonny Edgar. Willsey and Barbosa are back for their fourth year with the team, the first behind the wheel of the No. 33 SCM Focal One Ligier JS P217, as SCM moves to the LMP2 class in 2024.
“We’re happy to have Lance, João and Nolan back with the team, and to have Jonny as a new addition,” said team principal Sean Creech. “It’s a great lineup to start the season.”
The 2024 Rolex 24 will mark the 15th edition of the endurance racing classic for Willsey, which includes the 2016 race in which he competed in two different cars. The Boston resident has raced at Daytona in a multitude of series including the IMSA Prototype Challenge and its successor, the VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, the Koni Challenge (now the Michelin Pilot Challenge), Historic Sportscar Racing, and the Ferrari Challenge.
“The age of our lineup up looks a bit like a barbell, doesn’t it?” quipped Willsey. “I’m 62, João is 48, and the two youngsters are all of 19. I’m very much looking forward to the full season with João, we had some great achievements in the LMP3 car – and I’m looking forward to being a part of the reintroduction of the Ligier P2 car. We’re excited to have Nolan back this year, he was a welcome late addition last year. It’s been good to have him on board early, through testing.
“We’re also happy to introduce Jonny Edgar to the US sports car audience,” Willsey continued. “We’ve been impressed with him, both in and out of the car. We’re confident he will make a significant contribution through the Roar and the 24. It’s been good for us to be able to help some of the young drivers gain a foothold in the US, drivers like Malthe Jakobsen and Nico Pino, who drove with us in the past.”
Four-time Rolex 24 winner Barbosa, a resident of nearby Ormond Beach, Fla., has contested 21 of the last 23 races with teams that have amassed stunning statistics at Daytona: those 21 cars have led over 2,000 laps and completed over 14,000 (a laps complete percentage of 93%). That puts the mileage chart for the cars Barbosa has raced in the Rolex 24 at over 50,000 miles – or twice around the world. But Barbosa knows that entering the race with the reintroduced Ligier LMP2 car will not mean the same mindset as the past three years, with the tried-and-true Ligier JS P320.
“It’s a different approach this year,” said Barbosa. “The team and the drivers know the work that will come this month to be ready for 24 hours. It’s proven to be reliable so far and the team has done a great job. We’ll continue to work on the car, continue to understand what it wants. We’ve lost half our test time to weather or track cancellations, so we know there’s more work to do at the Roar. But we have a good lineup for the 24. We know how quick Nolan is and Jonny really proved that he can be quick at the test, and his approach, feedback and speed were quite good.”
SCM’s two young guns will make good use of that knowledge base, though both come to Daytona with significant racing resumes. Siegel, 19, has raced professional since the age of 14, winning races on every level of the Road to Indy junior open wheel ladder system. The Palo Alto, Calif. native added sports car racing to his repertoire in 2021, competing in the Michelin Pilot Challenge, IMSA Prototype Challenge, Asian Le Mans Series, and the IMSA WeatherTech series over the past three years. Siegel has earned podiums in both of his two Rolex 24 starts, including last year’s second-place finish with SCM.
“It’s great to be back with SCM,” said Siegel. “It’s fun to work with people who are so passionate about what they do. It’s a different approach this year since we’re developing the car rather than focusing on fine-tuning and putting in a quick qualifying lap. Testing has been fun for the drivers and the engineers, taking big swings at it, trying radical ideas. This is one of the first endurance races where I’m not the ‘new kid’ and hopefully I can help Jonny get through his first Rolex 24. But I’ll still take the opportunity to learn as much as I can from Lance and João. There might not be anyone on the grid with more endurance racing experience and success than João does, and there’s always more that I can learn.”
New to the team for this year’s Rolex 24 will be 19-year-old Edgar. The Whitehaven, UK native has won numerous national and international karting championships including SKUSA SuperNats and the CIK-FIA European Championships and was named to the Red Bull Junior Team in 2017. Edgar began racing on the European junior open wheel circuits in 2019, earning success in Spanish F4, Italian F4, and capturing the 2020 ADAC Formula 4 championship. He raced in FIA Formula 3 last year, earning a victory at Monza, and contested a McLaren GT3 in the British GT Championship finale.
“I was impressed with the team and the car at the test last month,” said Edgar. “If we keep going in the direction we were going at the test, we’ll be in good shape. It seemed to me that technique and feel were quite similar to other cars I’ve driven, but obviously the multi-class aspect as well as the night running are very different from what I’m used to. But I have very experienced teammates and will learn a great deal at the Roar, all the little bits that add up in a 24-hour race. I’ll continue my gym work between now and then but there’s the mental side of endurance racing as well, managing your time out of car, so I’ll focus on that as well.”
Finishing on the podium at Daytona is a significant accomplishment but for Creech, finishing second three years in a row is no consolation. He knows the process will continue with the new car but feels confident that his talented drivers and crew have what it takes to put the Ligier JS P217 up front. The car has paced 698 trouble-free laps in four days of testing, but Creech rues the loss of four additional test days due to weather and a re-pave of Daytona’s Bus Stop.
“Finishing second at Daytona is fine, but that’s not why we’re here,” said Creech. “We’re here to win – and we have the crew and the drivers to do that. We’re not as far along with the car as we’d like to be, having lost those four test days, but we’ll focus on finalizing the setup and getting Jonny completely up to speed on the IMSA regulations at the Roar.
“It is a big challenge to take on a car that is basically all new, as we are in a class full of teams that have a great deal of experience with the ORECA. But we are focused on learning as much as we can, finding a good window with the car, and executing as a team for the entire event. If we can do that – and let this strong team of drivers do their thing in the car – I think we will be in good shape. The Ligier JS P217 has proven to be quite reliable so far and we look to continue that trend, in collaboration with Ligier. We appreciate the commitment they have made to the re-introduction of the chassis.”
SCM thanks partner Focal One for its continued support.
First up for the team will be the Roar Before the Rolex 24 full field test event January 19-21, with 450 minutes of testing time ahead of qualifying for the race on Sunday, January 21. The 62nd Rolex 24 at Daytona takes the green flag Saturday, January 27 at 1:40 p.m. Eastern, with the race broadcast live in the U.S. on the NBC family of networks. International viewers can watch via IMSA.tv, with IMSA Radio also available at IMSA.com.