AIM Autosport continues to climb the mountain during Daytona test days (Daytona Beach, FL)--8 January 06-AIM Autosport continued preparations for the upcoming Rolex 24 At Daytona with three days of running during the Daytona Test Days at the ...
AIM Autosport continues to climb the mountain during Daytona test days
(Daytona Beach, FL)--8 January 06-AIM Autosport continued preparations for the upcoming Rolex 24 At Daytona with three days of running during the Daytona Test Days at the "World Center of Racing." Burt and Brian Frisselle, Mark Wilkins, and David Empringham shared the driving duties in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Lexus-Riley. The Toronto-based team will be contesting the full 2007 Rolex Sports Car Series schedule, and is working to be ready not only for the upcoming Rolex event, but also for the season-long championship campaign.
"We know that we are climbing a mountain, and are on the steepest part of the learning curve right now," said team co-owner Ian Willis. "But we learned a lot running the one-day event here last June, learned more again at the Homestead test in December, and this Daytona test was another chance for us to keep getting closer to where we need to be when this race starts in nineteen days."
With the significant logistics and support systems needed to successfully contest the 24, the Daytona Test Days event was another chance to put the growing infrastructure of the AIM effort to the test as the team looks to identify weaknesses and correct them in time for their big debut in the Rolex season-opener.
"For us, this test isn't about making sure we have the fastest car," said Willis. "We have never taken anything like a 24 hour race on as a team, so having these days to let everyone gel and just working to be ready for all the different scenarios that can come up is something that's important for us to work on-not just for the 24 but for the full season."
As the team works to get the drivers, crew, and car all the same page, the driver line-up quickly gelled with veteran speedster Empringham bringing his knowledge, pace, and feeback to the fore.
"It's not just that he's lightning quick every time he gets in the car, but David has also been a part of helping a team take on the 24 for the first time before and is a tremendous resource for us," said Willis. "Not only is he working to get the car sorted out with his feedback, but I also think Mark, Burt, and Brian are learning a lot from him. They are great race car drivers already, but David's methodical break-down on what the car is doing is something that all three are learning from."
The Frisselle brothers will be making their third consecutive Rolex 24 start together, and have fit in quickly in their new environment at AIM Autosport.
"The guys were ready to go every session so we got a lot of track time and were able to make a good bit of progress with the car itself," said Burt Frisselle. "We didn't lead the timesheets or set a track record, but we weren't really aiming to, either. We know that this race is going to be a combination of preparation, pace, and some luck, so we just were working through getting everything gelling with the drivers, the team, and the car. I'm really looking forward to getting back here at the end of the month and getting this season off to a good start in the 24."
The AIM Autosport effort isn't just confined to the Daytona Prototype class, as the team is also operating the GT-class effort of the No. 17 Tim Horton's Doncaster Racing Porsche with drivers Dave Lacey, Greg Wilkins, Johnny Mowlem, Tom Papadopoulos, and Lance Arnold.
"There are some new parts we need to get on the car before the 24, so it will almost be like starting over once we get back here (to Daytona)," said Greg Wilkins. "But as long as we can start off with a car that understeers a little bit we should be in good shape for the race."
Wilkins has a pretty good idea of what is required to do well in the Rolex event, having shared the podium celebrations with his son Mark in 2004 in the SGS class and again in 2005 in the GT class.
"The GT side of the test went well, and just like with the DP effort, the test gave those guys a chance to work together and get ready for what is hopefully a very long night and day at the end of January," said Willis.
The AIM Autosport transporter has already set off for the AIM shop outside of Toronto to bring the GT and DP cars back for a final tear down and prep in time for their trip back South for the January 27th 1:30 PM start of the 45th Rolex 24 At Daytona.
-credit: AIM autosport