Homestead tire test day one notes

Rolex Roundup: Hoosier Tire Introduction Test Homestead-Miami Speedway -- Day 1 MIAMI (November 30, 2004) -- The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Hoosier Tire Introduction test got underway at Homestead-Miami Speedway today, with 19...

Rolex Roundup: Hoosier Tire Introduction Test
Homestead-Miami Speedway -- Day 1

MIAMI (November 30, 2004) -- The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Hoosier Tire Introduction test got underway at Homestead-Miami Speedway today, with 19 cars turning 1,355 incident-free laps around the 2.3-mile speedway road circuit.

The No. 65 The Racer's Group Porsche GT3 Cup of owner/driver Kevin Buckler and the team's recent signees for 2005, Andy Lally and Marc Bunting--who won the 2004 Super Grand Sport driver crown--turned in the most laps of any car on the day, as the trio made a total of 113 trips around the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course in their new-for-2005 GT machine. Leading the way among the Daytona Prototype competitors were David Donohue and Darren Law in the No. 58 Red Bull -- Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar with 112 laps. Official times were not distributed.

DYSONS TEST WITH ESSEX RACING

Day One of the Hoosier Tire Introduction Test turned out to be a reunion of sorts, as Rob and Chris Dyson returned to the Rolex Sports Car Series paddock for this afternoon's opening test sessions. While both took the opportunity to visit with old friends, their main mission was to get a feel for Essex Racing's first-of-its-kind Ford Crawford alongside Harrison Brix and James Gue.

"The idea is to see how the cars perform and enjoy the company of my son," said Rob Dyson, whose Dyson Racing Team owns the most overall victories in Rolex Series competition with 15 triumphs. "Maybe we will put a program together to run the 24 Hours (at Daytona), which is a great event on anybody's racing calendar. To have won it twice, I'd like to win it a third time, but do it with Chris in the car with me."

Both Dysons admit that there is much work to be done before they commit to driving in the 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Nevertheless, their appearance at the Hoosier Tire Introduction Test is definitely a step in the right direction.

"If I pass the test, which is mostly personal, then it will be a wonderful experience to race with these young men in an endurance race," said Rob Dyson. "Right now, we're learning what the car is like. I drove a Crawford (Daytona) Prototype this summer and I'm just getting used to driving a closed-cockpit car again. It's been a long time. We'll get acquainted with the car, power and tires. It should be an interesting day tomorrow, and we'll see how the program progresses from there."

"My dad and I really want to do the Daytona race, and this opportunity came along," added Chris. "We have an eye towards doing the Rolex 24, and we would really like to be there in February. At this point we're looking at this weekend, but with a view towards the Rolex. Beyond that, who knows? Right now we have a pretty full plate next season. This is a good place to be competing. The Rolex 24 At Daytona transcends everything, and we are hoping to be there."

KODAK TEAM READIES FOR '05; TRACY TRIES OUT DAYTONA PROTOTYPE

Today's test sessions brought out a host of familiar faces from various forms of motor racing. Some were walking the pit lane, essentially "kicking tires" and looking for potential opportunities for 2005. Others got significant seat time, including 2003 Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller, who was sharing his No. 54 Kodak EasyShare Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran with a few drivers new to Daytona Prototype competition.

C.R. Crews--who brings previous experience from Formula Mazda--was on hand to test the No. 54, as well as 1999 Toyota Atlantic champion and sports car regular Anthony Lazzaro and 2003 Champ Car World Series champion Paul Tracy.

"It's going pretty good," Borcheller said. "We're just testing things on the chassis as well as Paul, Anthony and C.R. Crews. The car's pretty sorted so it's pretty comfortable to drive. Paul has tested here before, and Anthony has raced here, so they're just getting used to a new car. C.R. has never been here before. We've got a lot of improvements to do on the car, but we haven't had time yet. We're anticipating having them done for the Daytona Test Days."

For Tracy, today's test session represented his first exposure to a Daytona Prototype, and was the Canadian's first time in a race car other than a single-seater.

"I'm happy to have the opportunity to drive for Bell Motorsports and come out here and see what this is all about and get used to the car," Tracy said. "Terry was going through some things this morning for setup and he did a good job with the car. I think I did about 25 laps. This is the first time for me really driving with a roof over my head and a windshield inside a closed-cockpit car. It's fun to drive and it's fun driving a car again."

With another star-studded lineup in the offing for the 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona, Tracy hopes this week's test sessions are the first step toward him joining the fray for February's twice-around-the-clock race as well.

"For me, it's always been a goal of mine to do some long distance races," Tracy said. "The opportunity this year has presented itself with the team that won at Daytona last year. You couldn't be on a better team. My main focus is to get some miles in the car and have some fun doing it."

JMB RACING USA PREPARES FOR FULL ROLEX SERIES SEASON IN 2005

South Florida-based JMB Racing USA plans a full-season attack on the 2005 Rolex Series GT title, and today's test sessions provided the team with its first opportunity to get acquainted with its brand-new No. 11 Ferrari 360 Challenge. The team has signed 21-year-old American Anthony Pinto--who brings previous experience from the European Formula Palmer Audi series--to drive for the full 2005 season. Alongside veteran driver Matt Plumb, Pinto turned his first laps in the GT machine in today's test session.

"The first time I stepped into a GT car, I immediately recognized the lack of downforce as compared to an F3 car or something like that," Pinto said. "It's just realizing that it's like slow motion. The key is smoothness. There's so much for me to learn. The brakes are unbelievable--you can brake as late as an F3 or something like that. It's shocking to me. Besides that, it's just realizing how to keep it consistent rather than just going fast."

Plumb--who finished third alongside Maurizio Mediani for JMB Racing USA in September's Miami 250 at Homestead-Miami Speedway--was on hand to provide guidance for Pinto and another of the team's 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona drivers, race promoter Jim Michaelian, as well as to get the new car sorted out.

"All the cars are fast straight out of the box," Plumb said. "It's just a matter of getting it to an acceptable point for everyone to drive it, feel safe and be comfortable with it. That's the real goal with this test--to get consistent and comfortable to drive for everybody. I think Daytona (Test Days) will be where we start fine-tuning it. It won't be until then that we make those changes and improvements that will eventually be part of the race package.

"With the changes in the rules, there's a lot that can be done. This is a new car for these guys. This is the first time we've driven this car, so there is a lot to be done. It's a good thing we have this test and the test at Daytona to move things along."

-garra-

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