Daytona 24: Automatic Racing preview

Automatic Racing Ready for M6 Debut in the Rolex 24 at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The BMW M6 will turn its historic first competitive laps this weekend during the Rolex 24 at Daytona as Automatic Racing steps up to the GT class of the...

Automatic Racing Ready for M6 Debut in the Rolex 24 at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The BMW M6 will turn its historic first competitive laps this weekend during the Rolex 24 at Daytona as Automatic Racing steps up to the GT class of the Rolex Series with the new model.

In addition to marking the debut of the M6 in worldwide competition, the 24 Hours will be the first Rolex Series race in Automatic Racing's seven-year history. After many successful seasons in KONI Challenge competition, including the 2007 team and driver championships in the Grand Sport class, Automatic has expanded their program to encompass the Rolex Series, as well.

The Automatic team now has the challenge of developing the Riley-built M6, but they have proven themselves to be adept at bringing new race cars up to speed -- and the front of the field -- quickly. Automatic was one of the first teams to campaign the BMW E46 M3, developing the car while keeping the team at the forefront of the GS class.

The No. 90 BMW M3 will be piloted by Jep Thornton, David Russell, Tom Long and Joe Varde. All four drivers have gotten their share of laps around the Daytona International Raceway circuit during two recent testing events.

"The Rolex 24 is such an historic race," commented driver and team owner Thornton. "I'm really looking forward to it, especially since it's the debut of the M6. We're the only BMW in the GT class, and I'm happy to represent them after doing so for seven years in the Grand Sport class."

Long is making his Rolex Series debut this weekend. "It's great to carry the flagship BMW in the race," he said. "It's neat to be part of a first-tine effort with a car. The chassis is well-sorted and we've got a good motor, so we just need consistency and good traffic management."

"I'm really excited for the opportunity Jep gave us to run this car and to be able to drive it," said Russell. "It's going to be great driving with Joe Varde, who I've been watching since I was a kid peeking through the fence. And of course Tom is a good friend and driver, and I'm looking forward to co-driving with him again."

-credit: automatic racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Jep Thornton , Joe Varde , David Russell
Teams Automatic Racing