DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 10, 2004) -- Bell Motorsports announced that NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver Christian Fittipaldi will join Terry Borcheller, Forest Barber and Andy Pilgrim in the No. 54 Chevrolet Doran JE-4 at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 29 - February 1.
It will be the second appearance with the team for Fittipaldi, who joined Borcheller, Barber and Didier Theys in the No. 54 Chevy at last year's Rolex 24. However, the Brazilian racer is hoping for a better finish this season. The Bell Motorsports Daytona Prototype arrived at last year's race fresh from the manufacturer and completely untested, which resulted in its early exit and 39th-place finish.
"We are definitely better prepared this year," said Fittipaldi. "It's going to be tough, because it's such a long race and the competition will be fierce with a lot of good cars out there. But we have a good car, and I think if we are still running at the end, we should be in the top three."
Despite the poor start to the season last year, the team was able rally back to capture the first-ever North American Road Racing Championship. After setting the quickest lap times during the recent pre-season testing held at Daytona International Speedway, the team enters this year's 24-hour classic as one of the favorites.
Fittipaldi currently races in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series for Petty Enterprises in the No. 44 Bugles Dodge, however he has an extensive road racing background. Fittipaldi competed in Formula 1 for three seasons, earning four top-five and 16 top-10 finishes in 40 starts. He went on to compete in CART with Newman/Haas Racing, picking up two victories and 18 podium finishes.
Pilgrim also has an impressive road racing resume. He was one of the original members of the Corvette Racing Team when it debuted in 1999 and had five class victories with the team. The Englishman also has two class victories at the Rolex 24, winning in a Corvette in 2002 and Porsche in 1997. At the 2001 Rolex 24 At Daytona, Pilgrim took second-place GTS honors as part of the star-studded No. 3 Corvette team that included Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in their only race together as teammates.
The Englishman, who raced with Bell Motorsports twice in 2003, helped secure the team's Daytona Prototype championship last season when he partnered with Borcheller in winning the VIR 400.
Borcheller and Barber return to the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series after a thrilling 2003 season in the No. 54 Chevy Doran that included six overall wins and the Daytona Prototypes driver championship for Borcheller.
"We return to the Rolex 24 with a championship-winning car, team, and driver lineup. Our Doran chassis is well sorted and reliable, as is our GM power. Bell Motorsports' superlative pit work and race strategy has been a key factor in several races, and we will be relying on that given the basic competitiveness of the chassis/engine combinations fielded. I believe we will be as well prepared and well positioned as anyone can be to win this race," said car owner-driver Barber.
"I think (this driver lineup) is going to be great. Christian comes from Formula 1 and had success there. Andy is probably the best endurance driver you can find. Forest and I have proven that we can do well," said Borcheller. "We all get along really well. Everyone is really low key. It makes for a great group."
Tickets to the Rolex 24 At Daytona are currently on sale and can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 386-253-RACE. Additional information on the Rolex Sports Car Series and Rolex 24 At Daytona can be found at www.grandamerican.com.