Daytona 24: Erdos and Newton preview

Le Mans Winning Line-up Faces Another 24 Hours Two-times Le Mans-winners Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos begin their sixth season together as co-drivers by facing the challenge of another twenty-four hour marathon - next weekend's Rolex 24 Hours...

Le Mans Winning Line-up Faces Another 24 Hours

Two-times Le Mans-winners Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos begin their sixth season together as co-drivers by facing the challenge of another twenty-four hour marathon - next weekend's Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. The RML AD Group racing duo will be sharing the all-new #51 Cheever Racing Coyote-Pontiac with another Le Mans winner, Briton Tom Kimber-Smith, and two American drivers; Brent Sherman and Scott Mayer.

Having won the LMP2 class at Le Mans in 2005 and 2006, and with twelve other 24-hour races shared, Mike and Tommy's is clearly an enduring partnership. "It may not be unique," admits Thomas Erdos, "but to have stayed together for five consecutive years is something of an achievement. We get on well, we get results, and as it says in the old adage; 'if it works, don't fix it!'." This will be their fifth time together at Daytona, and the third year that they have joined Eddie Cheever's Daytona Prototype Grand-Am squad.

They link up with the team at a significant moment, with Eddie Cheever having just launched a new car in the Coyote -- a name more synonymous in the past with that of the legendary AJ Foyt. Considered by some to be the greatest American racing driver of all time, four-time Indy 500 winner Foyt gave his permission just a month ago for Cheever Racing to resurrect the Coyote name. "We were looking for an American brand," said Eddie Cheever. "I phoned AJ and asked if I could use his name. I was shocked when he said yes!"

Earlier this month, during the official Daytona Test, the Pontiac-powered Coyote turned wheels for the very first time. "It's a great experience and a true honour to be involved in the development of a brand new car," said Thomas Erdos, who was one of the first to drive it. "I like to think that the feedback Mike and I will be putting in will contribute towards what I am confident will become a very successful racecar. It was easy to tell, right from the start, that the Coyote has tremendous potential," he added, "As with any new project, there's a great deal of work still to be done before we can expect to see the Coyote at its best, but I'm really looking forward to getting to grips with it next week."

For AD Group the association with the Daytona 24 Hours began in 2002, when the CCTV technology specialists supported a two-car entry, with Erdos driving a Saleen in GT1 and Newton sharing a Porsche 911 in GT2. "It's good to be coming back to Daytona again," said Adam Wiseberg, Motorsport Director at AD, "and we are particularly excited by the potential of the new Coyote. Although the car's running during the test was curtailed, we were able to see that the car has huge promise, and we're hoping for great things, not only from the car, but also the strong driver line-up."

Aside from Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos, the squad has additional depth in Tom Kimber-Smith. The twenty-three year-old already has a Le Mans victory to his credit, having secured the GT2 title in 2006 with Team LNT, and also extensive sportscar, prototype and single-seater experience. Former AWACS crew-member Brent Sherman has a strong NASCAR pedigree, and is familiar with Daytona's banked oval, while Scott Mayer first raced in Indy Racing League in 2003 and sees the Rolex 24 Hours as his Grand Am debut ahead of a full season with Cheever Racing in 2008.

-credit: mn/tePR

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Brent Sherman , Scott Mayer , Mike Newton , Thomas Erdos , Tom Kimber-Smith