Daytona Bits and Pieces
By: Bill King
Hoosiers Giving Up? - Durability concerns about the 2005 Grand American Rolex Series spec tire arose during the three-day pre-season test session that ended Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.
A number of Daytona Prototype and GT category teams noted that the tires from Hoosier Racing Tire Corp. to be used for the Rolex 24 in four weeks were not consistent through an entire fuel run. The problem was described as a sudden and dramatic drop in traction resulting in as much as three seconds a lap around the 3.54-mile oval/infield layout.
Changing tires at every pit stop will require an increase in the 30-set allotment currently in force for the 24 and a corresponding bump in the weekend's tire bill. Due to the short lead-time, there is no plan to test and manufacture a new tire for the February round-the-clock run. Grand-Am director of competition Mark Raffauf suggested that drivers with Touring Car experience would fare better, being used to taking better care of their tires. Given the rapid pace of 24-hour races, team tire strategies are likely to play a major roll at Daytona next month.
Hoosier's proposal for the Grand-Am spec tire supplier contract trumped Goodyear's.
Is Emmo Coming Back? - One of the drivers being considered for the fifth seat in the 2004 Rolex 24 winning Doran-Pontiac of Kodak-Bell Motorsports is Emerson Fittipaldi. Car-owner Forest Barber looked at both Fittipaldi and Ralf Kelleners to partner with him, Terry Borcheller, Paul Tracy Emmo's nephew Christian Fittipaldi.
"It felt good," said Fittipaldi. "The car has good power and good handling, but I need to get back in the regimen of driving." Both Fittipaldi - who drove only 11 laps - and Kelleners* were well off the pace.
Grand-Am to Run with Champ Car? - In an odd bit of maneuvering, the Grand American Rolex Series, scheduled to appear at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City Dec. 4, may run instead with the Champ Cars Nov. 6. Given the obvious politico-racing implications, is anyone other than the organizers interested in this fraught match-up? Grand-Am is looking at two other November dates and an earlier one in October to keep the 2005 season from running into December.
* Regarding the statement on Ralf Kelleners being off the pace. The comment was inaccurate as the team has informed Motorsport.com that Kelleners' times were on a competitive level with the times turned by Terry Borcheller. Throughout the three testing days, Kelleners was one of the quickest drivers in the Forest Barber owned Bell Motorsports Daytona Prototype.