GRAND-AM Cooldown Lap: Daytona
Roar Before the Rolex 24
Friday, Jan. 6, 2011
The Corvette Daytona Prototype looked fast standing still when the new car was unveiled at Daytona International Speedway in November. The new cars lived up to their billing Friday, taking the top five positions in the Roar Before the Rolex 24, opening a three-day test at Daytona International Speedway.
Max Angelelli led the day with a lap of 126.382 mph in the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette DP he shares with Ricky Taylor and Ryan Briscoe. He was followed by David Donohue in the No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP (126.213 mph), Max Papis in the No. 9 Action Express Corvette DP (126.138 mph), Alex Gurney in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette DP (125.893 mph) and Antonio Garcia in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP (125.832 mph).
Everything is right on track as far as our racing and testing program is concerned.
Sixth fastest, in a new No. 02 Target/TELMEX BMW/Riley, was NASCAR regular Juan Pablo Montoya with a speed of 125.810 mph.
Robin Liddell led the 44-car GT entry with a lap of 117.048 mph in the No. 57 Stevenson Chevrolet Camaro co-driven by John Edwards and Ronnie Bremer. Liddell, riding a two-race winning streak, ran his fastest lap early in the morning session before experiencing transmission troubles.
Fall-Line Motorsports topped the charts in Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge action, claiming the top two speeds in Grand Sport on Day 1. Charles Espenlaub turned the day’s fastest lap in the No. 48 BMW M3 (109.278 mph) while Hugh Plumb was second-fastest in the No. 45 BMW M3 (108.963 mph). Cory Friedman was fastest in Street Tuner (100.466 mph) in the No. 24 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche Boxster.
TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates rolled out a pair of new Riley DPG3s, including a new No. 01 BMW/Riley for 2011 DP champion Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. The pair won the 2011 Rolex 24, and will be rejoined by Joey Hand and Graham Rahal for this year’s event. Returning in the team’s No. 02 BMW/Riley are Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Jamie McMurray.
Michael Shank Racing announced Justin Wilson as the fourth driver for the No. 60 Liveon.com Ford/Riley, joining NASCAR’s AJ Allmendinger and Rolex Series regulars Ozz Negri and John Pew.
Second-generation driver Justin Bell announced that leading online companies eBay Motors and Mobile and Quicken Loans Inc. will sponsor the No. 4 Children’s Tumor Foundation/Racing4Research Magnus Racing Porsche GT3. Bell, son of three-time Rolex 24 winner Derek Bell, will co-drive with Ryan Eversley, Daniel Graeff and Ron Yareb.
Patrick Dempsey stepped out of his Mazda RX-8 and logged some laps for Multimatic Motorsports in the team’s new Aston Martin Vantage. Dempsey also will return to the No. 40 Visit Florida Mazda RX-8 that finished third in the 2011 Rolex 24.
Bruce Ledoux, driving the No. 03 Mazda MX-5 for CJ Wilson Racing, was transported to Halifax Medical Center following an incident in the chicane during Friday afternoon’s session. He was awake and alert, awaiting further evaluation at Halifax.
“This is the strongest GT field in any series – ever.” Andy Lally, Magnus Racing Porsche GT3
“This is a whole new piece, and we’re still learning about it. We’ve got a lot to learn and a long way to go, but we’re very comfortable about how our first day went.” Scott Pruett, No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley
“We’re not really concerned about our qualifying speed. We’re more concerned about how the car feels in the race. That makes all the difference in the world. Look at last year – we qualified both cars out of the top 10 and we were running right up there after only a few hours. Right now, everything is right on track as far as our racing and testing program is concerned.” Christian Fittipaldi, No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype
“Today was the first time I have ever driven at Daytona and it was awesome, absolutely amazing. I couldn’t believe how steep the banking was when I saw it. Daytona is a very quick circuit and the infield can be quite technical. It’s such a unique place – I really can’t compare it to any other circuit I have driven before.” Aaron Steele, No. 6 Mitchum Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, Sunoco GRAND-AM 200 Challenge winner
“We came here with a good base setup and were able to come out strong and run a good time in the opening session. The Rolex Series looks very good this year, with the new DPs and new manufacturers in GT. We’re happy to be here with a good team. No one’s sure about the pace of the new cars, and it’s hard to tell where everyone is at this point, but overall, it feels very promising.” Robin Liddell, No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.
The Roar Before the Rolex 24 continues Saturday with a full day of activities. The Rolex Series will practice from 9-10:45 a.m., 1-2:30 p.m., 4-5 p.m. and 6:30-8 p.m., with Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge sessions from 11 a.m.-noon and 2:45-3:45 p.m. Other activities include fan forums and tech talks in the Sprint Fan Zone. The Roar wraps up Sunday with practice from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
The 2012 Rolex Series season opens with the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Jan. 28-29.