No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Porsche Quartet Ready for All-Out Assault on GT-Class Victory in 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona; Veteran Sports Car Racers Miller, Sellers, Sugden and Bell Rate Among Favorites
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 26, 2011) - When the green flag drops on the 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona at 3:30 p.m. ET this Saturday, drivers Bryce Miller, Bryan Sellers, Tim Sugden and Rob Bell and the No. 48 Marquis Jet/TOTAL/IPC Porsche GT3 have just one goal: to win the GT class.
This is not a team, nor a driver lineup, with designs on winning the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Cask No. 16 championship, as they're not competing in the series full time in 2011. This team and these drivers were brought together specifically for this race to try and win the Rolex 24.
"I've driven on the same team as Bryan," explains Miller, the team's lead driver. "We've always gotten along very well. We've worked together with driver data and things like that, so we already knew going in that the chemistry was good there. I drove Le Mans with Tim and Rob last year and the chemistry there worked pretty seamlessly. Bryan, Rob, Tim and I are all getting along really great. I think every driver here has won a championship of some sort or another, so there's an enormous amount of respect from one driver to the next."
Chemistry and respect are key ingredients to success in a 24-hour race, but as Miller points out, it also helps to have a pedigree, which all four drivers clearly have. Miller, 28, of Summit, N.J., co-drove the car that won the Rolex Series GT championship in 2007 and has wins in the Rolex Series, American Le Mans Series and IMSA GT3 Cup competition. He will make his fifth Rolex 24 At Daytona start this weekend and looks to improve on a previous best result of second in the GT class in 2008.
Sellers, 28, of Auburn, Ga. is also making his fifth appearance in the Rolex 24 this weekend and scored a best result of third in 2008 while running as a teammate to Miller. Sellers worked his way up by winning championships in various North American formula car series and is now regarded as a rising star in GT-style sports car racing.
Sugden, 46, of Leeds, England, will make his fifth Rolex 24 At Daytona start as well this weekend. He earned a best Rolex 24 result of fourth in the GT class in 2008, behind his then-teammates Miller and Sellers and is a veteran of the world's other most important endurance races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Sugden won the 2005 Porsche Cup and the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia title in 2007.
Bell, 31, of Northampton, England, is making his Rolex 24 At Daytona debut this year. However, Bell is no sports car racing rookie, as he won back-to-back Le Mans Series championships in 2007 and 2008 and he has raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Petit Le Mans among other important international events. That said, the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road circuit presents a unique set of challenges, which Bell got to experience for the first time in testing three weeks ago.
"When you get here, it's an awesome thing to do," said Bell. "I've not driven here and I've not driven a Porsche, but effectively, it's still something that I do as a profession and it's a racing car to drive around a circuit. In that respect, I don't really prepare any different to any other race, but 24-hour races are a different mindset. I can see the oval (portion of the Daytona course) being a different mindset and you've got to be on your guard. It's just a question of staying alert and doing a solid job in the race."
What will make doing the job easier is the fact that the car was plenty fast over three days of testing at Daytona on the first weekend of January, and in fact posted the second-quickest time in the GT class in its final on-track session. Over the course of the test, the team tried out a variety of different things on the car and its setup and made good progress.
"Some things worked and some didn't, but that's what a test is all about," said Sugden. "A test is just that, a test. You can't expect everything that you try to make the car go faster, otherwise it'd be far too easy. What is the fun in that? We had to try different things. I think we took a few steps forward early on, took a step back and we're going forward now. We made some really good progress. As long as the general trend is upwards, then we're highly delighted."
Of course, all involved are hoping that they're highly delighted once again when the checkered flag falls on Sunday afternoon and they all depart Daytona International Speedway with shiny new Rolex watches on their wrist.
"I think our chances are very good," Sellers said. "It's a 24-hour race, so it's always hard to expect anything. Our expectations now will be to go and run and run and run and run and run, and hopefully run for 24 hours. Then, once you start to get within the last two hours or so, then you can kind of start to have a plan. Right now, it's just to try to be consistent and be as fast as you can without hurting anything and try and make it."
-source: paul miller racing