Daytona 24: AIM Autosport Thursday report

AIM Autosport Fastest on Thursday night Qualifies fifth--not a bad place to finish in 2007, and it's not a bad place to start in 2008 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 24, 2008) -- After taking a fighting fifth in its Rolex 24 At Daytona debut last...

AIM Autosport Fastest on Thursday night

Qualifies fifth--not a bad place to finish in 2007, and it's not a bad place to start in 2008

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 24, 2008) -- After taking a fighting fifth in its Rolex 24 At Daytona debut last season, AIM Autosport is looking to go even better in 2008, as Mark Wilkins, 24, of Toronto, Ont., set a fast lap time of 1:41.413-seconds at Daytona International to take fifth on the grid with the Exchange Traded Gold/Barrick Gold Ford-Riley on Thursday. Wilkins will share driving duties with Brian Frisselle, Colin Braun, and Andrew Ranger in the opening round of Rolex Sports Car Series competition.

The 2008 Rolex event marks the second Daytona Prototype race effort for Wilkins, who scored podium results in his first two starts in the grueling event.

"Starting off where we finished last year is great. I feel like we are more competitive than we were a year ago so by that measure we're way ahead," Wilkins said. "Every lap during the session just seemed to get a bit quicker and the team were on the radio, feeding me information about where I needed to pick up a little time. I'm happy we are in much better shape than last year and hopefully starting close to the front will help us keep out of trouble early on."

Team principal Ian Wills came away very satisfied that his AIM crew and driver executed well on their qualifying plan.

"We're picking up where we left off last year! The session went as planned for us. We chose to run a limited number of laps and so after the tires came in Mark was able to run some very solid, fast laps," Willis commented. "We did our best lap without the benefit of a draft and the one opportunity we had to draft the No. 7 car was spoiled when they pulled off. At that point we called Mark in and parked it. We know what need to do come race time and this qualifying put is in a good position for what is hopefully a clean start."

Afterwards, Wilkins complimented the efforts of the team overall and especially his fellow co-driver Brian Frisselle.

"Brian and everyone on the team has done a great job of developing and setting this car up. The Riley/Ford combination is just fantastic. The fastest lap came together really well, despite not getting a tow. I always want to be faster, but overall, I'm really pleased," he added.

The Thursday night practice session saw the team keep moving up the order, as Andrew Ranger set the fastest lap of the hour and a half session, with Colin Braun further improving the time as he took his first laps of the weekend in the Exchange Traded Gold/Barrick Gold Ford-Riley.

"The guys have done a great job setting the car up and Mark did a great job qualifying today," said Braun, who spent some time fulfilling his NASCAR Media obligations on Thursday. "It's great to just get in the car and have it be quick and easy to drive. This is a tem effort, and I'm really looking forward to Saturdays race."

-credit: aim autosport

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Colin Braun , Andrew Ranger , Mark Wilkins , Brian Frisselle