Darren Law and the Action Express Racing team completed a successful Roar Before the Rolex 24 test at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 6 to 8, in preparation for the 2012 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, scheduled for Jan. 28 and 29. Law, of Phoenix, and his co-drivers David Donohue of Malvern, Pa., and Christian Fittipaldi of Key Biscayne, Fla., put the No. 5 Corvette-powered Daytona Prototype at the front of the field in three of the eight test sessions and notched the second-fastest overall lap time – one minute, 41.338 seconds at an average speed of 126.468 mph on the 3.56-mile infield road course.
Starting a season with a 24-hour race is always daunting. Entering the race with a new chassis, engine and bodywork increases the challenge considerably. But Law said the Action Express team is capably handling the change to a Coyote chassis and Corvette power and bodywork.
"We had a great three-day test," he said. "Some things that we thought would work, didn't, and some things that we didn't think would work, did. That goes with a new car. But we were really happy.
"We learned a lot. Most sessions we ran really well, sometimes at the top, sometimes in the middle, but always competitive. We're still in a huge learning curve with this car – we learned a lot at the test and I'm sure the engineers will be back at the shop in the next two weeks, deciphering all the data. Hopefully, we'll come back with a good package for the race."
The crew will also focus on the interior configuration of the car, to ensure maximum efficiency for the drivers during the 24-hour race.
"We still have a lot of work to do interior-wise with the car," Law acknowledged. "It's a lot different than the Riley. We're sitting on the other side and the cockpit is smaller in the new DP3 version of the vehicle, so it's a tighter fit. Our driver changes aren't exactly what they should be yet. All the drivers are going to show up at the shop a week before the race and we're going to spend an entire day just trying different belts and different configurations of plugs and radios and drink bottles."
All of that detail should add up to a competitive effort at the Rolex 24.
"The biggest question-mark for all of us is the brand-new car," Law noted. "We don't know what issues we may run into. The Chevrolet motor has been around for a couple of years now, so I don't foresee any problems there. It's all the new stuff that's unfamiliar to us that we hope doesn't bite us.
"But I'm confident in our team. We've won this race before and it's the same group of guys we won with in 2009. And I'm confident with our driver lineup – David and I also won it together in '09. Christian Fittipaldi is with us, and so far we're all really equal on lap times. We've all done this many times and we know how to win it. From that aspect, I'm very confident."