Daytona - GRAND-AM Rolex Series hot shoe Dion von Moltke is ready to team up with a trio of Audi factory stars for an assault on this weekend’s 51st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The quartet were consistently fast at the recent “Roar before the 24” pre-season test in early January – kicking off the event by being third fastest in the opening session and repeating the effort in the final run of the weekend with a time of 1 minute, 49.887 seconds.
The 22-year-old von Moltke has a unique opportunity at the Rolex to be teamed with three of Audi’s top young stars. The 25-year-old Mortara finished fifth in last year’s DTM championship with two wins.
Former A1GP race winner Albuquerque (aged 27) also enjoyed a strong season in 2012 finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th – beating the likes of David Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher in the standings.
After four seasons of DTM competition, the 29-year-old Jarvis switched to the FIA GT1 World Championship with Audi last season and also drove their P1 class R18 prototype at the 24 Hours of Le Mans where he finished third with Marco Bonanomi and Mike Rockenfeller.
von Moltke is looking forward to sharing seat time with three of the hottest stars for the famous German marquee.
"For any driver, the eventual goal is to become a factory driver and for me to be able to work not only with any factory drivers, but some of the best, from an organization like Audi, is an amazing experience,” von Moltke said.
"Edoardo Mortara, Oliver Jarvis, Filipe Albuquerque... they've been very successful in the DTM, one is driving the R18 prototype and they just had a dominant year. They're also very young and very hungry. They haven't had a long, extensive career with five or six Le Mans wins. This isn't just another race to them. They're coming here and are extremely determined, as is Audi.
"The energy that they bring with them and the confidence as well really rubs off on the team and on me as well. So it's been really nice being able to work with them and see what they do differently. You can take little points from each driver - you never stop learning from guys you are working with.
"Each of us have different driving styles and through the data, we're able to pick apart what I do better, what they do better and combine it all together.
"We not only have an open environment within Alex Job Racing but also within all the Audis here for the Rolex 24. Where we're all working together with data and setups. It's really great to see the teamwork and camaraderie all pushing each other to get faster, and hopefully get an edge on the competition.
"You not only have to have a quick car, but also be very confident in what you have under you is going to be reliable, in order to push. Not only is Audi and Alex Job Racing really focused on making the car fast, they're also committed to making it reliable.”
The Rolex 24 at Daytona is one of the toughest endurance races on the global calendar. With 59 entries, the number of cars is similar to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but the pack is squeezed into a 3.81 miles road course compared to 8.46 miles in France.
By racing early in the year during the winter, the Rolex 24 also has considerable more running at night compared to Le Mans – up to 13 hours of the race is contested in the dark.
"As a driver, you used to be able to baby the car around and you'd start pushing only for the last six hours or so. But in reality nowadays, it's really 24 one-hour stints,” von Moltke said.
"I remember at the start of the race last year, already 30 minutes into the race, people were blocking and fighting for positions and being very aggressive. You never used to see that, but the dynamic of this race has changed.
"Everyone's flat-out and you need to be flat-out as well and trust that your car will be reliable. Luckily when you work with a manufacturer like Audi and you have a really good team like Alex Job Racing, you have a lot of confidence in that aspect of the race.
"Going into it, we know we have as good of a chance as anyone else, team-wise and car- wise to make it through the race reliably.
"The competition is going to be really strong. I think this might be the strongest competition in GT, or even in DP, that we've ever seen for this race.”
Despite the strong performance of the Alex Job Racing at the pre-season test, von Moltke is under no illusions as to the big task ahead he and his Audi factory teammates face.
"While we were quick at the test, you unfortunately never really know how you stack up until race day. I think the Porsches are going to be strong, as well as the Ferraris. BMW has a really good lineup and the Stevenson Chevrolet did well last year. There are a lot of cars that might not be ultra-quick around Daytona, but they know how to make it strategy wise.
"To be able to get a top-5 or even a top-10, you have to be perfect. The drivers cannot make any mistakes and the team cannot make any mistakes.
"The whole mindset going into this race is that you have to look after your own responsibilities and that's not always easy to do, especially in a big team when there is a lot of pressure. But you have to focus on what your job is and on the task at hand.
"If everyone does their own jobs to the best of their ability, I think we have as good of a chance as anyone else to go out and win this race. It will really be down to everyone bringing their 'A' game."
dion von Moltke