Chevrolet has its work cut out in defending its double victory in Saturday’s Chevrolet GRAND-AM 200 presented by Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers. Ford, BMW and Ferrari are expected to offer strong challenges for in GRAND-AM’s second visit to the automotive capital of the world.
With its Renaissance Center world headquarters as a fitting backdrop, Chevrolet came home a double winner last year at Detroit’s Raceway at Belle Isle Park. Action Express Racing gave the new Corvette DP a one-two sweep in the Daytona Prototype ranks, while Jordan Taylor and Paul Edwards captured top honors in the production-based GT class in the Autohaus Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.
For 2013, Corvette DPs lead the way with six prototype entries. Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty were winners at Circuit of The Americas for Bob Stallings Racing in March, while Wayne Taylor Racing’s Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor won the April round at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. Chevrolet is also represented by a Camaro and a Corvette in the GT class.
Ford, headquartered in nearby Dearborn, Mich. is also a solid contender in the DP class, with four Ford-powered Rileys – two each from Starworks Motorsport and Michael Shank Racing.
Ganassi’s Pruett, Rojas come to Detroit leading DP points
Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates returns to Detroit with momentum and the Daytona Prototype points lead in the team’s quest for a fourth consecutive title. Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, drivers of the No. 01 Cessna-TELMEX BMW/Riley, dominated the most recent round at Road Atlanta after opening the season by winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Winners of the last three DP championships, Pruett (40 DP victories) and Rojas (27) are also the leading winners in class history. Pruett is the lone five-time Rolex Series champion while Rojas’ four titles are second on the all-time list. Chip Ganassi Racing has won six of the 10 total DP team championships.
Pruett has history on his side at the Motor City. He won an IMSA GTO race for Jack Roush in 1987, when the cars raced through the downtown streets. At Belle Isle, he won his first CART pole and finished second in the 1989 event.
Rojas competed in a pair of Barber Dodge Pro Series open-wheel races at the circuit, with his best finish 19th in 1999 – finishing between Michael Valiante and Jon Fogarty. The pair finished third in last year’s inaugural DP race at Belle Isle.
Ganassi Racing’s main challenge for a fourth consecutive DP title are a pair of Corvette teams that both have already won this season – GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing.
Consistency has been the biggest advantage for the Ganassi gang with a season-worst finish of fourth. The team’s lone hiccup came at Circuit of the Americas when the team suffered damage midway through the race, but a timely caution and diligent work by the crew allowed Pruett to race back to a third place finish.
Chevrolet holds tight lead in DP Manufacturer race
There will be more than bragging rights on the line for GRAND-AM’s second annual visit to Detroit, where two hometown manufacturers are battling for a championship.
Coming to the Motor City, Chevrolet and Ford are fighting it out for the coveted Rolex Series Daytona Prototype manufacturer’s championship. After four races, Chevy holds a four-point lead over Ford, 132-128. BMW ranks third with 112 points.
Chevrolet is the defending GT winner at Detroit, and returns to Belle Isle with a two-race winning streak in the production-based division. However, imports are dominating the manufacturer points.
Despite not winning a race this season, Ferrari holds a three-point lead over Porsche (118-115). COTA winner BMW is third with 98 points, followed by Chevrolet with 96.
Porsche continues to enjoy the advantage in the new GX class with 137 points. Mazda cut the lead to 10 points in the most recent race at Road Atlanta, with SpeedSource Mazda6 drivers Andrew Carbonell and Joel Miller taking the first victory for a diesel-powered car in GRAND-AM competition.
GRAND-AM, ALMS to have strong presence at 24 Hours of Le Mans
North American sports car racing is undergoing major change, and the world is taking notice. This year’s running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 22-23 will feature 31 drivers from both the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón (ALMS) and GRAND-AM Road Racing.
Seven ALMS teams and one from GRAND-AM are expected to be on the grid when GRAND-AM founder Jim France waves the French flag at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 22, to start the endurance classic.
France heads the board of directors for United SportsCar Racing, which will debut at the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona, combining GRAND-AM and the ALMS.
This will be the first time that two members of the same family will be honored by starting the race. Bill France Jr. – then NASCAR president – was the 1976 honoree, starting an event that featured two NASCAR stock cars in the one-time “Grand International” class.
Seven-time Le Mans class winning Corvette Racing leads the solid GTE class, alongside SRT Motorsports, while racer/actor Patrick Dempsey and Ricky Taylor are among the Americans competing in the GTE Am class.
Level 5 Motorsports competes in the LMP2 class for the third consecutive year. From the GRAND-AM side, 8Star Motorsports will have owner Enzo Potolicchio and Stephane Sarrazin racing a Ferrari 458 Italia.
8Star Motorsports signs open-wheel veteran as Race Engineer
8Star Motorsports continues to grow in its quest to become competitive in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series DP class.
Team owner Enzo Potolicchio recently named open-wheel veteran Yves Touron as race engineer for its Rolex Series DP program for the No. 3 Corvette DP.
Potolicchio stepped away from driving, turning the wheel over to veterans Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy. Potolicchio hopes to return to competition later this season in a second team DP.
Touron’s extensive credentials include work with Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (2009-2013) and PKV Racing. He also worked with Team Cadillac and Giroix Racing’s McLaren F1 GTR.
Touron recently worked with the Pompano, Fla.-based team’s Corvette DP at a test at Sebring International Raceway. Drivers Michael Valiante, Rafael Matos and Potolicchio drove at the test. Valiante will drive with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Action Express Racing looks to repeat Belle Isle dominance, double podium
Action Express Racing will have a new look for Saturday’s Chevrolet GRAND-AM 200 – but hopes to find similar success to last year’s inaugural Rolex Series race at the Raceway at Belle Isle.
A year ago, Action Express Racing shuffled its driver lineup for Detroit – and came through with a one-two finish. Joao Barbosa and Darren Law won in the team’s No. 9 Corvette DP, with David Donohue and Terry Borcheller finishing second in the No. 5.
The team added three new drivers for 2013, and changed its lineup for the most recent Rolex Series race at Road Atlanta. Barbosa moved from the No. 9 to join Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5, while brothers Brian and Burt Frisselle now co-drive the No. 9.
While Fittipaldi did not compete in last year’s Chevrolet GRAND-AM 200 at Detroit, he has experience racing at the circuit in CART. He finished second in 1996 and fifth in 2001, both with Newman/Haas Racing.
Fittipaldi’s GRAND-AM experience dates back to 2003 – winning the 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona – but 2013 is his first fulltime ride since 2007, when he drove for Eddie Cheever Racing.
He is currently 10th in DP points with a season-best finish of fifth coming at Circuit of The Americas in March.
Stevenson Camaro two-race winning streak tightens GT championship hunt
Jordan Taylor and Paul Edwards were the inaugural GT winners at Detroit when they combined to capture honors co-driving a Chevrolet Camaro last year for the now inactive Autohaus Motorsports team.
Robin Liddell and John Edwards have the lone Camaro entered at Detroit, and they are looking for their third consecutive victory in the No. 57 Stevenson Auto Group Camaro. The pair combined to win GT honors at both Barber Motorsports Park and Road Atlanta, tightening up the GT points battle in the process.
Liddell and Edwards have moved up to third in the GT title chase, trailing Scuderia Corsa Ferrari driver Alessandro Balzan by eight points (110-102).
John Potter and Andy Lally, drivers of the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3, are one point out of the lead.
Circuit of The Americas winner Paul Dalla Lana is tied for fourth with AIM Autosport Team FXDD with Ferrari drivers Anthony Lazzaro and Emil Assentato, only one point behind Liddell and Edwards (101 points). Park Place Racing Porsche drivers Patrick Long and Patrick Lindsey are sixth, with 99 points.
There will be a second GM product in the GT field, with Eric Curran and Boris Said returning in the No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette.
Rolex Series, Etc.
Michael Shank Racing driver Ozz Negri will miss this weekend’s event as he continues to recover from an offseason leg injury. Subbing for Negri will be Michael Valiante who will co-drive with John Pew in the No. 60 Ford/Riley prototype.
Gustavo Yacaman, driver of the No. 6 Tuvacol Ford/Riley for Michael Shank Racing, won last year’s Indy Lights race at Belle Isle. He will co-drive this weekend with Antonio Pizzonia who drove to a season-best finish of fourth at Road Atlanta.