Daytona24: Porsche Motorsport preview

Defending Rolex 24 Champions Brumos Racing and TRG lead a 16 Car Porsche Contingent as Six Factory Drivers Take to Daytona International Speedway First overall Porsche Rolex 24 winner Vic Elford (1968) will preside over the race as Grand Marshal...

Defending Rolex 24 Champions Brumos Racing and TRG lead a 16 Car Porsche Contingent as Six Factory Drivers Take to Daytona International Speedway

First overall Porsche Rolex 24 winner Vic Elford (1968) will preside over the race as Grand Marshal with his race-winning Porsche 907 long tail race car

ATLANTA - January 25 -- As defending champion of both classes for the 48th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Porsche teams return to the long distance classic as the most successful automobile manufacturer with 21 overall wins and 63 class victories. Leading the way is the contingent from Jacksonville, Florida in the #59 Brumos Porsche Riley driven by David Donohue (USA), Darren Law (USA), Hurley Haywood (USA), Butch Leitzinger (USA) and Raphael Matos (USA). Donohue and Law were in last year's winning car that took the checkered flag by the smallest margin in the history of the Rolex 24 at .167 seconds with Donohue driving the last, thrilling segment.

The Porsche 911, the most accomplished race car ever at the Rolex 24 with 37 combined class and overall wins, will also be well represented in 2010 with the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car. Last year's winners, Porsche factory drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA), have a good chance to again grab victory. Bergmeister/Long, who are also the reigning American Le Mans Series GT champions, share driving duties with Seth Neiman (USA) and Johannes van Overbeek (USA) for the TRG/Flying Lizard Motorsports team.

"This race is a fantastic start to the new season," says Bergmeister. "In Daytona, drivers gather from a wide range of race series and that makes it particularly exciting."

TRG team driver Patrick Long agrees, and adds that winning last year was a unique accomplishment.

"Before 2009, I had won in a Porsche at Le Mans, Sebring and Petit Le Mans, but the top step of the podium had eluded me at the Rolex," said Long, the only American Porsche factory driver. "That was a great win with TRG last year, but it just makes me want another victory even more."

Vic Elford - Grand Marshal

Porsche claimed its first victory at Daytona back in 1968 with Vic Elford, Jochen Neerpasch, Rolf Stommelen, Jo Siffert and Hans Herrmann at the wheel of the Porsche 907. This year, Daytona International Speedway is honoring Elford by naming him the Grand Marshal of the event.

Elford, nicknamed "Quick Vic," was an established rally driver winning the prestigious Monte Carlo Rally as well as the European Rally Championship. In addition to rallying and sports car racing, where he notched famed victories at the Nurburgring and Targa Florio, Elford also competed in Formula One and NASCAR. As a matter of fact, Elford won the 1968 Monte Carlo Rally in a Porsche 911 only six days before his Rolex 24 win.

"Vic Elford has a long list of motorsports accomplishments and we're honored that he will serve as Grand Marshal for the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona," said Robin Braig, president of the Daytona International Speedway. "The Rolex 24 showcases the world's greatest drivers from different driving disciplines taking on the ultimate test of driver and machine. With his diverse motorsports background, it's only fitting to have a racing legend such as Vic Elford give the starting command and take part in all the other festivities that come with the Rolex 24."

Joining Elford at the famed speedway is the car he co-drove to victory, the #54 Porsche 907 longtail. Introduced June 1967, as an outgrowth of the Porsche 910, the Porsche 907 was really an interim project on the way to the Porsche 908, meant to compete for the world manufacturers championship against the Ford GT40 and the Ferrari. The six-cylinder, fuel-injected, two-liter, 220-horsepower 907 long tail surprised everyone by winning the Targa Florio and the 24 Hours of Daytona before the month of January, 1968 was over and then Porsche went to Sebring with a short-tail version featuring a 2.2-liter, eight-cylinder engine and won the 12-hour race. The 907, and its successor, the 908, were competitive for the rest of the 1968 season, but Porsche was unable to unseat the Fords and Ferraris at Le Mans until Porsche introduced the 917, which won Le Mans in 1970.

Customer Teams / Factory Drivers - GT

TRG has entered two Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer cars. Porsche factory pilot Wolf Henzler (Germany) will pilot car #66 with Andy Lally, Ted Ballou, Patrick Flanagan and Kelly Collins (all USA). His works driver colleagues Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) are both starting in car #71 with Spencer Pumpelly, Bobby Labonte, and Tim George, Jr. - all USA.

Their factory driver colleague Richard Lietz (Austria) will drive the #44 Magnus Racing Porsche, teaming up with the winner of the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup, Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands), team owner John Potter and veteran Craig Stanton. Potter and Stanton ran together in a TRG car last year before John decided to start his own team for 2010.

Also starting their own team in 2010 is the Miller Barrett Racing group, featuring multi-time Grand-Am GT winner Bryce Miller, IMSA GT3 star Kevin Roush, FIA-GT driver Luke Hiines, and Grand-Am and Koni veteran Peter Ludwig.

A recent graduate of the Porsche Junior driver program, Martin Ragginger (Germany), who was the fastest Porsche pilot at the recent Daytona test days, will share the #23 Foametix/Battery Tender Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with past Rolex 24 GT winner Dominik Farnbacher, veteran Jack Baldwin, and rising IMSA GT3 star Mitch Pagerey.

Another Porsche 911 GT3 Cup team racing in the GT class against the Ferraris, Corvettes, Camaros, and Mazdas is the all Canadian Bullet Racing squad from the Vancouver, British Columbia, including former Rolex winner Ross Bentley, car owner Steve Paquette, past Sebring winner Kees Nierop, Canadian A1GP star Sean McIntosh, and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Darryl O'Young. Before and during the Rolex 24 in Daytona Beach on January 30 and 31, Bullet Racing will be collecting donations from both per-lap pledges and lump sum payments as part of the B.C. Children's Hospital Foundation's SUPERHERO campaign. For more information, visit the team's website at www.bulletracing.ca

Orbit Racing, Rolex 24 GT winner in a Porsche at the 2004 Rolex 24, has one driver from that victory, Johnny Mowlem, on board along with John Baker, Guy Cosmo, Tom Papadopoulos and Lance Willsey in their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.

Hurley Haywood - Retiring Five Time Rolex 24 Daytona Champion

But it is the appearance of Hurley Haywood, in the #59 Brumos Porsche Riley, who has declared this to be his last Rolex 24, that has sports car fans rooting for the 61 year-old veteran of 36 of these Daytona 24 Hour events. Add the fact the Brumos entry is the 2009 race winner, and a happy ending to his endurance career is within reach.

"There is so much hype about this being my last race and there are a lot of emotions running through my mind, but racing has many ups and downs. The smallest thing can knock out the best efforts, so if the stars line up and the time is right, we're going to win-and if not, then we won't. I can still retire and say my career has been worthwhile and it is something I am proud of. Regardless of the outcome at Daytona, I won the race before this one and can go out with my head held high. But it would be terrific to end a 40-year career by getting that sixth win at Daytona, so that is what I'm going to try very, very hard to do", said Haywood.

If you had any doubts about Haywood's endurance racing greatness, consider five Rolex 24 wins, three 24 Hours of Le Mans victories, and two wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

According to the Daytona International Speedway records, Hurley has completed more than 18,500 laps on the famous banked oval/infield combination, which is more than 66,750 miles of racing - more than two-and-a-half times around the earth!

-source: porsche motorsport

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Butch Leitzinger , Vic Elford , Guy Cosmo , Kelly Collins , Andy Lally , Jack Baldwin , Hurley Haywood , Darren Law , David Donohue , Rolf Stommelen , Timo Bernhard , Patrick Long , Johannes van Overbeek , Ross Bentley , Spencer Pumpelly , Johnny Mowlem , Craig Stanton , Romain Dumas , Jeroen Bleekemolen , Seth Neiman , Sean McIntosh , Darryl O'Young , Patrick Flanagan , Wolf Henzler , Peter Ludwig , Dominik Farnbacher , Kevin Roush , Alex Job , Tom Papadopoulos , Lance Willsey , Martin Ragginger , Richard Lietz , Steve Paquette , Bryce Miller , Kees Nierop , Jochen Neerpasch , Mitch Pagerey , Hans Herrmann
Teams Alex Job Racing , Flying Lizard Motorsports , Magnus Racing