As Rick Ware Racing and Eurasia Motorsport join forces for the 2021 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, their entry will feature a solid resume. On Thursday, the joint project RWR Eurasia announced that they will field the Ligier JS P217 for Cody Ware, Austin Dillon, and Salih Yoluç for the Rolex 24 in late January.
“Having already confirmed its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut at the Rolex 24, RWR Eurasia announces that both Austin Dillon and Salih Yoluç will be joining Cody Ware at Daytona International Speedway for the first round of the Michelin Endurance Cup in its Ligier JS P217,” read a statement from Eurasia Motorsport. “With three out of the four seats now confirmed, the team already has an impressive and experienced driver line-up.”
Ware, the son of RWR owner Rick Ware, won the 2019–20 Asian Le Mans Series LMP2 Am championship with the team. The 2014 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America Rookie of the Year has also raced in NASCAR’s three national series, scoring a top-ten finish in the rain at the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series event on the Charlotte Roval. The effort was part of RWR’s return to the second-tier NASCAR series, and the team plans to run two full-time NXS cars in 2021.
Dillon has no experience in the Rolex 24, let alone sports cars, but has visited Victory Lane before at Daytona as he won the 2018 Daytona 500. The three-time NASCAR Cup Series race winner concluded the 2020 season with a win at Texas, a playoff appearance, and an eleventh-place points finish. Although the Cup Series raced on the Daytona infield layout used by the Rolex 24 (outside of a NASCAR-only chicane approaching the start/finish line), Dillon missed the August event after testing positive for COVID-19. However, he will get another shot on the track in stock cars when NASCAR returns to it as the second race of the season in 2021.
His best Cup road course finish is sixteenth on two occasions (Watkins Glen 2014 and Sonoma 2018), while he has two top tens on such layouts in the Xfinity Series, where he won the 2013 championship, at Montreal 2012 and Road America 2013.
In September, Yoluç and his TF Sport team won the 24 Hours of Le Mans‘ LMGTE Am class to become Turkey’s first winner of the prestigious endurance race. TF Sport finished the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship with four class wins at Fuji, Shanghai, and Austin prior to the Le Mans victory. Prior to WEC, Yoluç won the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup and has also raced a Ligier in Asian Le Mans in 2019.
“The two new signings will complement the talents of defending Asian Le Mans Series champion Cody Ware, solidifying the firm foundations for the RWR Eurasia challenge at Daytona International Raceway,” continued Eurasia’s statement. “The team are now assessing options for the final race seat in readiness to compete in the ROAR Before the Rolex 24.”
RWR, which has competed in a variety of disciplines including NASCAR and IndyCar in 2020, first opened a sports car program in the early 2010s to run the Rolex 24; among the team’s drivers for the race were NASCAR drivers Jeffrey Earnhardt and Timmy Hill. The team returned to sports cars with Asian Le Mans in 2019, where Ware and Gustas Grinbergas won the LMP2 Am title in the #52. A planned run in the 2020 Rolex 24 was called off.
Dillon is not the only NASCAR face in the 2021 Rolex 24 field. Fellow Chevrolet driver and newly-crowned Cup champion Chase Elliott will drive for Action Express Racing in the DPi class alongside former now-former Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Jimmie Johnson.