Series November Daytona test preview

Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes, GT Cars Preparing For Strong 2008 Rolex 24, Title Efforts in November Test DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 12, 2007) -- The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve hits ...

Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes, GT Cars Preparing For Strong 2008 Rolex 24, Title Efforts in November Test

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 12, 2007) -- The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve hits Daytona International Speedway for November Test Days Nov. 14-15, where a full field of Daytona Prototypes and GT machines will begin the initial preparations needed to compete for a 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona victory and a series championship. The open-to-the-public test marks the on-track debut of the new Pirelli tire that will be the series standard for all Daytona Prototypes and GT machines competing in the Rolex Sports Car Series beginning in 2008.

Among those bolting on the new Pirelli tires for the first time are the trio of Daytona Prototypes and drivers that battled down to the last laps of 2007 for the championship. Leading the way is the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley and champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, who nabbed the team and driver championships this past season. Open-wheel veteran Jimmy Vasser is scheduled to join the championship duo for the test with an eye on the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Scott Pruett, the 2004 Champion who narrowly missed adding this year's crown to a long list of career accomplishments, is back with TELMEX Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing eager to reclaim the throne. Pruett will be joined in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley by Memo Rojas at the November Test Days.

Meanwhile, SunTrust Racing has established themselves as an annual contender with Max Angelelli taking the lead in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley. Along with team owner Wayne Taylor, Angelelli captured the 2005 title and battled with Pruett and the No. 99 teammates for supremacy all season long in 2007. SunTrust Racing has announced plans to switch to an all-new Dallara chassis following the Rolex 24 At Daytona, but will stick with the Riley until then. Taylor's son, Ricky Taylor, and series regular Michael Valiante will also join the No. 10 team during the test.

Nearly lost amidst the championship battle at the conclusion of 2007 was the first Daytona Prototype win for the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley. Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews will climb back behind the wheel for the test session to capitalize on the last race momentum.

Longtime Rolex Series competitor Spirit of Daytona Racing will use the November Test Days to continue the development of the Porsche V-8 engine in the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Racing Porsche Fabcar. The engine made its debut at the season-ending Sunchaser 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park in September with an eye on the 2008 season. Guy Cosmo and Marc-Antoine Camirand will pilot the No. 09 Porsche Fabcar during the two-day test.

Brumos Porsche is the only team to participate in every Daytona Prototype race since the class inception in 2003, and despite the tremendous loss of team owner and sports car legend Bob Snodgrass in 2007, the familiar two cars will be running strong at the November test. Following nearly 30 years of racing a sports car, Hurley Haywood has retired from fulltime driving and will take responsibility for running the team. Haywood hasn't completely tossed aside his helmet -- the legend will pilot the No. 59 Brumos Porsche Kendall Porsche Riley at the November test and the Rolex 24 with JC France and Joao Barbosa. The No. 58 Red Bull/Brumos Porsche Riley and drivers David Donohue and Darren Law also built momentum during the second half of 2007 and hope to rejoin sports car racing's elite again in 2008. 2004 Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice is expected to join the team at the test.

Krohn Racing will return with a two-car effort in 2008, with Tracy Krohn in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley and Nic Jonsson in the No. 76 Pontiac Riley for the test session. Roger Schramm, Justin Bell and Bill Lester are scheduled to pilot the No. 12 RVO Motorsports Pontiac Riley during November Test Days in preparation for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Memo Gidley slides back behind the wheel of the No. 77 Doran Racing Kodak Ford Doran for November Test Days. Gidley ran with the team at the beginning of the 2007 season.

The offseason has already seen a number of significant announcements for a variety of Daytona Prototype teams. Michael Shank Racing returns to November Test Days with a Ford power plant for 2008. John Pew and Ian James return in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley, while Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri will pilot the No. 60 Ford Riley. AIM Autosport will also run Ford power beginning with November Test Days. Mark Wilkins returns in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold/Barrick Gold Ford Riley to show the ropes to Elton Julian, who will make his Rolex Series debut during the test session.

The team formerly known as Sigalsport has a whole new look at November Test Days following their offseason announcement that the team has been acquired by Fortune Market to become Fortune Market Racing, believed to be the first publicly traded race team. Gene Sigal and Matt Plumb will drive the No. 7 Fortune Market Racing BMW Riley in 2008.

Two front-running teams have yet to announce their driver lineup for November Test Days and the 2008 season. The driver of the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Porsche Crawford will be announced Wednesday, and the No. 39 Cheever Racing Crown Royal Special Reserve Pontiac Fabcar will make its 2008 announcement in the near future, but plan to run a full Rolex Series season.

A host of veteran GT drivers and teams will also gain valuable track time in the two-day test session, less than two months after the fight closed for the 2007 championship. Leading the entry list are multi-car teams Farnbacher Loles Motorsports, Banner Racing, TRG and SpeedSource -- all of which finished among the top five in the 2007 team championship point standings.

Farnbacher Loles Motorsports title defense begins with a two-car lineup at November Test Days. Defending series driving champion Dirk Werner will team with Wolf Henzler in the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Porsche GT3. Meanwhile, Dominik Farnbacher, Leh Keen and Eric Lux will drive the No. 88 Porsche GT3.

Banner scored finishes of second and fifth in the team championship standings and will retain the services of all four of its fulltime drivers this season. Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins won two races last season and finished second in last year's Rolex 24 in the No. 07 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R. Team principle Leighton Reese and Tim Lewis Jr. will drive the No. 06 Banner Racing Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R at Daytona.

TRG has six cars prepared for next week's test, with several drivers in the mix at Daytona. Andy Lally and RJ Valentine - who contested for the title driving the No. 66 TRG Porsche GT3 last season - will be on hand for team owner Kevin Buckler, while newly-signed fresh face Bryce Miller gets his first full-time duty at TRG. Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series regulars Ted Ballou and Duncan Ende, along with Mark Greenberg will also get seat time in one of the six TRG Porsches entered in the test session. Sports car regular and Porsche hot shoe Johannes Van Overbeek and Spencer Pumpelly will also help shake down the TRG machines.

Tim George Jr., Jim Lowe, Jim Pace, Pierre Bourque, Ronald Yarab, Russ Oasis, Jason Daskalos and James Stout round out the TRG driver lineup for November Test Days.

SpeedSource - which led the driver and team championship point standings throughout the first half of 2007 - will bring back two cars for its sophomore GT season. Team owner Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham captured three races last season in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8. David Haskell will also drive the No. 70 during the test. Meanwhile, Bob Akin Award winner Emil Assentato returns to the No. 69 SpeedSource FXDD Mazda RX-8 with Nick Longhi and 2007 KONI Challenge Grand Sport (GS) co-champion Jeff Segal.

Several other veteran teams will be a part of November Test Days. Reigning Rolex 24 At Daytona co-winners Carlos de Quesada, Jean-Francois Dumoulin and Scooter Gabel return to the No. 22 Alegra Motorsports/Fiorano Racing Gatorade/TodayMD.com Porsche GT3. Alegra Motorsports/Fiorano Racing will also campaign the No. 26 Porsche GT3 during the test, with the same trio of drivers scheduled to test the second car.

Dumoulin is also scheduled to drive the No. 15 Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustang Cobra GT with defending Fresh From Florida 200 Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) winners Tom Nastasi and David Empringham.

O'Connell Racing, Hyper Sport, and Multimatic Motorsports all return with one-car efforts for November Test Days. Kevin O'Connell and Kevin Roush will pilot the No. 27 O'Connell Racing General Environmental Management/Taleo Grill Porsche GT3; Joe Foster is the lone scheduled pilot of the No. 40 Hyper Sport Mazda RX-8 while Scott Maxwell runs the No. 55 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT.

Team Sahlen is back with its two-car squad, which includes Joe Sahlen and Will and Wayne Nonnamaker in the No. 42 Team Sahlen HRPworld.com Corvette. Will and Wayne will be joined by Joe Nonnamaker in the No. 43 Team Sahlen HRPworld.com Corvette.

Matt Connolly Motorsports will also field two cars at Daytona. Connolly and Diego Alessi are in the No. 21 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R, while Connolly and Keith Rossberg will share the No. 24 Matt Connolly Motorsports BMW M3.

Former series regulars Autometrics Motorsports and Orbit Motorsports return for the two-day test. Cory Friedman, Mac McGehee and Derek Skea are entered in the No. 14 Autometrics Motorsports Mac Papers/Churchill Transport Porsche GT3, while Lance Willsey will see time in the No. 34 Orbit Porsche GT3.

Two teams new to the circuit are expected during the test. Ron Zitza purchased the No. 17 Porsche GT3 car from Doncaster Racing and has the car entered under the Terra Firma Motorsports banner. Zitza and Gary and Mark Jensen are entered to compete in the test.

Autohaus Motorsports is also entered for the test with several veteran drivers expected behind the wheel. Lewis is also entered to drive the No. 72 Autohaus Motorsports Autohaus Pontiac GXP.R, with Lawson Aschenbach, Terry Borcheller and 2005 GT driving champ Craig Stanton.

November Test Days begin Wednesday, Nov. 14. A three-hour morning session is scheduled from 9 a.m.-noon followed by a four-hour afternoon session from 1-5. The test continues on Thursday, Nov. 15 from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4:30 p.m. at Daytona International Speedway.

Fans with 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona tickets will be admitted free to the testing session scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 14 (9 a.m. -- 5 p.m.) and Thursday, Nov. 15 (9 a.m. -- 4:30 p.m.). Ticketholders must check in both days at the Guest Services desk inside the Daytona 500 Experience to receive a tram coupon valid to get them to the infield.

Fans without 2008 Rolex 24 tickets can purchase $10 tram ride admissions sold at the Daytona 500 Experience Guest Services desk. The DIS ticket office will be open for those wishing to purchase tickets to the Rolex 24 At Daytona or any other DIS event. In addition, Oldfield grandstands will be open for viewing outside the track with access through the Daytona 500 Experience.

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Krohn Racing , Autometrics Motorsports , Doran Racing , Team Sahlen , Multimatic Motorsports , SpeedSource , Michael Shank Racing