Marino Franchitti press release
Fifty-seven cars were entered in the official test the “Roar before the Rolex 24”, for the 50th Anniversary of the running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. This year’s event marks half a century of top-level sports car racing on the high banking and twisting infield that is the Daytona International Speedway and will take place between 26th to 29th January.
The last three official test days, comprising a total of six daylight and one night session, saw the #70 SpeedSource GT Mazda RX-8 put through its paces in each of the seven sessions. Marino and his co-drivers each took turns behind the wheel to find the car’s best set-up in preparation for the twice round the clock event in less than three weeks time.
With only 14 Daytona Prototype race cars making up the entire 57 car grid, the GT entry with its remaining 43 cars is without doubt the hottest contested category for this historic race. Along with the six Mazda entries, marques from Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, Audi, Ford, Camaro, and Dodge also have multiple car entries in the event.
The SpeedSource team made various set-up changes over the three days and by the end of all the official practice sessions had improved the car from an initial time of 1:50.791set at the end of the first session on the first day, to its best time of 1:50.015 set earlier this morning, this time placing the #70 car twelfth in the GT class. The fastest time in the GT category over the whole test period was set on Saturday by the #63 Risi Ferrari with a time of 1:49.239, but with an average of 16 GT cars all within one second of the fastest time in each of the seven sessions, the competition is going to be fierce come race day.
Marino was delighted with the whole three days, he commented, "It was great to be back in the car after the off season and we leave Daytona very happy after achieving all the objectives we set ourselves on the run up to the test. We have found a good set-up for the #70 car and it was a real pleasure to work with the SpeedSource team. I have to thank the whole crew for all their hard work and it's easy to see why they already have two Daytona 24hr victories under their belt! Sylvain and Jonathan really did all they could to help James and I get to grips with the MazdaSpeed RX-8, so big thanks to them too. The race can't come soon enough!"
The green flag for the start of the Daytona 24 Hours will drop at 3.30pm local ET time on Saturday, 28th January.