Brumos Porsche quickest in Rolex 24 testing.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 4, 2003) -- The #58 Porsche-powered FABCAR Daytona Prototype of Brumos Racing posted the quickest lap time during pre-season testing at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. The #58 Porsche Daytona Prototype recorded a 1:49.119 lap at 117.450 mph, just off the 1:48.980 time it set on Friday.
The #40 Corvette of Derhaag Motorsports was quickest in the GTS class with its 116.950 mph lap in 1:49.585, while the Mac Racing #10 Porsche GT3 R led the GT class with its 1:53.896 lap at 112.524 mph. The quickest SRPII lap was recorded by the #97 Nissan-powered Lucchini of Lucchini Engineering with a 114.684 mph lap in 1:51.751.
Bell Father-Son Reunite for Rolex 24
Three-time Rolex 24 overall winner Derek Bell spent Saturday afternoon with his son Justin Bell testing the #40 Corvette of Derhaag Motorsports. The renowned father-son duo has not teamed in a race car since 1995 when they finished third at LeMans after leading for 16 hours. However the five-time LeMans winner plans to return to racing for the 41st Rolex 24 At Daytona.
"Out of the blue, I was very surprised when (Justin) phoned me and said how about doing it. It's a great opportunity for me to drive with him again. I admire the team. They have done a great job with Justin. I don't think I would have just gone to any team and drove a Corvette for them, but I've seen this team over the last few years develop," said the senior Bell.
Justin, whose best Rolex 24 finish of second came in the 2000 race, said he's excited by the possibility of racing with his father again. "Jim (Derhaag) called me and said, 'If we are going to have a shot at this, let's put the best people in it that we can. Will you ask your father?'" explained Justin Bell. "Until we got here, we weren't sure how well we'd run. I know that was a determining factor for Dad. You don't want to just roll around. Daytona is not easy."
However the team's performance has been nearly flawless thus far during testing, as the Derhaag #40 Corvette has posted the fastest GTS lap times in every session.
Teaming with the father-son pair during testing is Simon Gregg, son of the late Peter Gregg who won four Rolex 24 At Daytona races.
"It's amazing really how it goes around. It worries me a little bit that I have to be the father that's still racing. The other fathers have either passed on or are not racing anymore," said Derek. "But I'm silly enough to want to still do it. It's a passion. I love doing it. So why not do it if you have the opportunity? I know having talked to lots of my peers, people like Stirling Moss say 'man if you're offered the drive, you take it, because any chance to race you should do it.'"
GT Racers Happy With New Rules
Several racers in the GT class are happy with the Rolex Series 2003 rules for the class, which now includes air restrictor sizes that are in line with other international racing organizations.
"The last couple of years everyone has been kind of sorting out their rules packages. This year with Grand American we have a really user-friendly platform," remarked The Racer's Group's Kevin Bucker, who won the GT class at the 2002 Rolex 24 At Daytona and LeMans en route to the Porsche Cup championship.
"Pretty much anybody from any other series worldwide can come here and run, because that's the rules package we've adopted. It's one that's universal, so it makes it that much easier to come run here now, which is nice."
The international appeal is apparent at this weekend's testing, with teams from around the world in Daytona preparing for the 41st Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Lazzaro Hopes To Keep Perfect Record
Racer Anthony Lazzaro has won his class at ever Rolex Series race he has run dating back to 2001, and he now hopes to keep his perfect record alive in 2003.
Lazzaro won his first Rolex Series event at the 2001 Daytona Finale, where he and Terry Borcheller partnered for the SRP II title. During the 2002 season, Lazzaro competed in one of Rand Racing's SRPII entries at seven of the series' 10 races and won his class every time.
Now Lazzaro has slid behind the wheel of the #35 Ferrari 360 GT of Risi Competizione, who prepared the Rand Racing entries in 2002. The 39-year-old racer will not only be surrounded by familiar faces in the pits, but also with his co-drivers as Ralf Kelleners joins the Ferrari team. Kelleners and Lazzaro were part of the winning SRPII team at the 2002 Rolex 24 At Daytona, and will join Johnny Mowlem in search of the GT title at this year's race.
Local Driver Returns To Racing
Daytona Beach driver Craig Conway returned behind the wheel of a Corvette race car this weekend in preparation for the Rolex 24. Conway won the American GT class of the 2002 Rolex 24 At Daytona, as well as the 2001 Rolex Series American GT driver championship, with local team Flis Motorsports.
After taking a hiatus from racing during the second half of the 2002 season, Conway is back at the wheel in the Team RE/MAX Racing #05 Corvette. "This is one of my favorite races to do. It's nice that the guys from RE/MAX called me," said Conway. "It's never an easy race to win. It's one of those races that you need to keep out of trouble. If we can all do that in this car, I think the car has the capability of going the distance."
Testing at Daytona International Speedway will conclude on Sunday, Jan. 5. A portion of the Oldfield grandstands will be free and open to the public for viewing of the test sessions.
Tickets are currently on sale for the 41st Rolex 24 At Daytona and may be purchased by calling the Speedway ticket office at 386-253-RACE. Additional information about the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Rolex Sports Car Series is available online at www.grandamerican.com.