Daytona Test: Pre-season testing preview

Top drivers kick off New Year with testing at Daytona this weekend. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 31, 2002) -- The world's top road racers will kick off 2003 with pre-season testing at Daytona International Speedway this weekend, Jan. 3-5....

Top drivers kick off New Year with testing at Daytona this weekend.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 31, 2002) -- The world's top road racers will kick off 2003 with pre-season testing at Daytona International Speedway this weekend, Jan. 3-5. Teams and drivers from around the world will converge on Daytona to hone their skills on the Speedway's 3.56-mile road course in preparation for the 41st Rolex 24 At Daytona, Feb. 1-2.

Some new Daytona Prototypes will make their first appearance at the Speedway during testing. The Daytona Prototypes are the new premier class of the Rolex Sports Car Series and will make their racing debut at the 2003 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

The #88 Ford Focus Daytona Prototype is expected to take its first turns on Daytona's high banks during this weekend's testing, will an all-star lineup of road racers at the wheel. Canadians Scott Maxwell and David Empringham will partner with Australian David Brabham in the Ford Daytona Prototype. Maxwell captured the 2002 Grand-Am Cup driver championship, while Empringham is a past Toyota Atlantic and Indy Lights champion. Their teammate from down under, who now resides in Florida, is one of the most noted sports car racers in the world, racing both prototypes and GT cars in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia, in addition to his two stints in Formula 1 racing.

The G&W Motorsports #8 BMW-powered Picchio is also scheduled to make its first on-track public appearance at Daytona. The Picchio was unveiled to the public during the Rolex Series Finale at Daytona in November, and it is scheduled to return for testing with Austrian Dieter Quester, Italian Luca Riccitelli and Americans Darren Law and Boris Said at the controls of the Red Bull-sponsored machine.

Brumos Racing will be back at Daytona after completing a successful 28-straight hours of testing at the Speedway in early December. This time the team is expected to have both their Porsche-powered FABCAR Daytona Prototypes on hand. The #59 Daytona Prototype will carry the traditional Brumos livery, with Hurley Haywood, J.C. France, David Donohue and Mike Borkowski sharing driving duties, while the #58 Porsche-power car will have IRL standouts Scott Sharp and Scott Goodyear, as well Chris Bye and Wayne Jackson, at the wheel of the Daytona Prototype, also sponsored by Red Bull.

NASCAR Winston Cup driver Kyle Petty will prepare for his third-straight Rolex 24 At Daytona, co-piloting Orbit Racing's #43 Porsche GT3 R with Leo Hindery, Peter Baron and Porsche factory driver Marc Lieb. NASCAR's Kevin Lepage will also get ready for his first Rolex 24 appearance as he partners with David Machavern and Tommy Riggins in the Heritage Motorsports #48 Mustang.

Porsche Cup champion Kevin Buckler, who won the GT class at both the Rolex 24 and LeMans in 2002, will begin his quest to defend his title by testing The Racer's Group #66 Porsche GT3 R with Michael Schrom and Porsche factory drivers Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister.

Testing at Daytona International Speedway will get underway on Friday, Jan. 3 and 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.

-garra-

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