Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Unveils 2012 GRAND-AM Plans
Season-Long Entry, Engine Partnership and 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona Lineup Announced
INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 13, 2011) – Five-time and reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Cars Series Champions (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011) Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced today its season-long program for 2012, including their engine manufacturer partnership and driver line-up for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Long-time partner TELMEX returns as the primary sponsor of the No. 01 Dinan-Prepared BMW Riley piloted by Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, the most-successful driving duo in GRAND-AM history, who return for their sixth consecutive season with CGRFS.
BMW Power returns for a third consecutive season through the support and assistance of BMW of North America, LLC and Dinan Engineering. The 5.0-liter BMW M S62 V8 power plant has driven the team to 14 Daytona Prototype class victories in 24 races over the last two seasons.
In addition, the four-time Rolex 24 At Daytona Winners (2006, 2007, 2008, 2011) will again run a two-car effort for the 50th running of the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona, featuring eight drivers representing some of the best talent the motor racing world has to offer. Pruett and Rojas will unite with Chip Ganassi Racing Indy car teammate Graham Rahal and sports car racing talent Joey Hand to form the lineup in the No. 01 TELMEX/Target Dinan-Prepared BMW Riley, while Team Target IZOD IndyCar Series pilots Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti join their NASCAR teammates at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray in the No. 02 Target/TELMEX Dinan-Prepared BMW Riley for a second consecutive year.
The team comes into 2012 as the defending Rolex 24 At Daytona Winners and GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champions. Franchitti is also the defending IZOD IndyCar Series Champion, while Hand is the defending Rolex 24 At Daytona and Sebring 12 Hour GT Winner, as well as the American LeMans Series GT Titleholder.
NOTES OF INTEREST:
CGRFS’ one-two finish in the 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona marked the first time a team had reached the four-win mark since Brumos Porsche (1973, 1975, 1978, 2009), and the quickest to do so in the race’s 50-year history.
During the 2010 season, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams completed the first ever “Chip Slam” of motor racing by winning four major motorsports events in a 12-month period with victories in the 2010 Daytona 500, the 2010 Indianapolis 500, the 2010 Brickyard 400 and the 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Pruett and Rojas once again had a stellar season in 2011, winning five of the 12 races and claiming their third GRAND-AM Team Championship in four years. In addition to wins, the team had 10 podium finishes giving them an average finishing position of 2.2.
CGRFS has the greatest six-race stretch in Rolex 24 At Daytona history with four wins and two second-place finishes dating back to 2006. The team also has five championships (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011) and 37 race wins – all series records, to their credit since their introduction to the circuit in 2004.
The 2012 CGRFS driver roster is an impressive group of international racing champions representing four Indianapolis 500 titles (Montoya-2000, Franchitti-2007, 2010 and Dixon-2008), seven Indy car championships (Montoya-1999, Dixon-2003, 2008 and Franchitti-2007, 2009, 2010, 2011), five Daytona Prototype championships (Pruett-2004, 2006 and Pruett/Rojas-2008, 2010, 2011) and seven former Rolex 24 At Daytona Winners.
Pruett holds the all-time class victory mark at the Rolex 24 At Daytona with nine (1987, 1988, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2011). He has a record 36 overall GRAND-AM Rolex Series wins in addition to four overall wins at the Rolex 24 At Daytona (1994, 2007, 2008, 2011). Pruett, Pedro Rodriguez, Peter Gregg, Rolf Stommelen and Bob Wollek are the lone four-time Rolex 24 At Daytona Winners.
Chip Ganassi and co-owner Felix Sabates are the only team owners in history to win three-straight Rolex 24 At Daytona events (2006, 2007, 2008).
Pruett and Montoya’s back-to-back wins in 2007 and 2008 marked the first time drivers earned repeat victories in the race since 1986 and 1987 when Derek Bell, Al Unser, Jr. and Al Holbert accomplished the feat. Montoya became the first driver in Rolex 24 At Daytona history to win in each of his first two starts in the 24-hour race.
Dario Franchitti is the only driver to ever capture the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Indianapolis 500, an Indy car title and the Rolex 24 At Daytona consecutively, accomplishing the feat in less than a year in 2009. Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt are the only others to win the four titles, but neither did so in succession.
Last year’s victory marked Graham Rahal’s first victory with team owner Chip Ganassi. Rahal’s victory also came 30 years after his father Bobby won the event in 1981.
Joey Hand led the most laps in the 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona, leading 116 of the No. 01 car’s race-leading 231 laps. Hand led the race six different times.
Pruett became the first four-time GRAND-AM Rolex Series Driver Champion in 2011 and is the first American to score 10 major sports car championships - his closest competitor is the late Peter Gregg who has seven to his credit. Pruett’s previous titles include four Daytona Prototype Championships (2004, 2008, 2010, 2011), two IMSA GTO Titles (1986, 1988), one IMSA GT Endurance (1986) and three Trans-Am Championships (1987, 1994, 2003).
Lasts year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona win gave BMW its second overall victory in the Rolex 24. The first came in 1976 with a BMW CSL driven by Peter Gregg, Brian Redman and John Fitzpatrick.
2012 marks the 40th anniversary of BMW Motorsport.
2012 will be Dinan Engineering’s ninth season (2004-2012) in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Cars Series and their third with TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
Chip Ganassi, Team Owner: “We have been fortunate to have experienced a lot of success in the GRAND-AM series over the last eight years. That success stems from a number of factors – like having great drivers behind the wheel, taking great equipment to the track, having great people in the shop and finding great partners. I am pleased to say that once again we will have all of that. Our drivers and the people we have building the cars are second to none and it is good to partner with TELMEX once again. TELMEX has been with us from the start and have been integral to our success on the track. But additionally, we are pleased to continue our relationships with Dinan and BMW. They are a very big part of the team and our success. As for the Rolex 24, it is always fun to put together a lineup that includes drivers from all different forms of racing - GRAND-AM, INDYCAR, NASCAR and ALMS. But most importantly I simply love this race. Because it is an endurance race, it takes so much more to be successful in it and I think it says a lot about an organization that can make it to victory lane. I can’t wait.”
Ludwig Willisch, President, BMW of North America, LLC: “BMW of North America, LLC is proud to extend our support of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates for the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex season and the 50th Rolex 24 At Daytona. “Motor” is not only our middle name, but BMW M engines are literally the heart, and racing is the soul of our brand.”