TRG Fields Seven Car Lineup for Rolex 24 at Daytona
Porsche Factory Drivers Lend Support to TRG'S Daytona Assault
Petaluma, CA -- Setting out for next week's Daytona Test Days, TRG has one goal for the 2008 Rolex 24 at Daytona, continue the winning streak. Having sat on the podium for five of the last six years, including winning once in class and once overall, the team is one of the favorites to win in the GT class at the Rolex 24 next month.
These odds just got a little better. As if entering seven cars filled with a number of previous winners and strong drivers wasn't enough, TRG has signed four of Porsche's top factory drivers to the TRG roster: Romain Dumas, Emanuel Collard, Richard Westbrook and Martin Ragginger.
"TRG has had an incredible streak in the last six years, and we're ready to carry that tradition into the seventh," Kevin Buckler, team owner, said. "Porsche has been an incredible partner since we started this team. Their continued confidence in our operation pushes us that much harder to hold up our end of the bargain. 'Excellence is expected' is one of Porsche's mottos, and we plan to deliver."
Hopes are high for TRG's No. 66 Porsche GT3 Cup. Drivers are Bryce Miller, Ted Ballou, Andy Lally, and German factory drivers Romain Dumas and Emanuel Collard make-up one of strongest teams in the field. Running the 66 for the full season, Bryce Miller will be driving in his first race with the team after an impressive 2007 rookie season in Rolex GT. As an IMSA Cup champion, Bryce is also widely recognized as one of the best Porsche drivers around. California-native Ted Ballou will also join the group for his second Daytona run. After a winning season in the Koni Challenge series, Ballou wants to capitalize on his growing experience with a strong team. Andy Lally, TRG's long-time multi-series champion, adds an exclamation point to the group.
"I am extremely excited to be driving alongside such a group," Miller said. "The team is focused on a championship in 2008, and I have to thank Porsche and TRG for really stepping up to help make this a realistic possibility. Daytona is the toughest race of the year, so having three extremely talented teammates to aid Ted and I will go a long way."
"I am very honored to drive the 66 at this year's race," Dumas stated. "I've lost this race before to the 66, and when you consider that this number has won the race twice, I really hope I can finally win a Rolex."
Romain Dumas is coming off of a stellar year in 2007. Running full-time for Roger Penske's American Le Mans Series effort in the Porsche RS Spyder, the Frenchman accumulated eight wins to earn him the LMP2 championship.
Emanuel Collard is widely considered one of the most versatile drivers in the paddock. Having driven everything from Formula 1 cars to Daytona Prototypes, the French-born driver is looking for a second win at Daytona. Mitchell Rubber, Marquis Jet, Elf Oils, and IPC sponsor the No. 66 car.
Looking to defend last year's podium, JLowe Racing's No. 64 TRG entry is another standout on the roster. The regular pairing of Jim Lowe and endurance racing standout and Daytona 24 Hour winner Jim Pace will drive the 64 car. This will be their fourth year together. Lowe, a Neurosurgeon by day and professional race-driver by weekend, has shown a steady rise in performance over the last two years, highlighted by last year's podium finish at Daytona.
"Jim Lowe and all of the guys on the 64 have been an incredible group to work with over the last two years," Buckler continued. "The 64 has quickly become one of Rolex GT's toughest competitors over the years, and it's been a real treat to have a group of their caliber under our umbrella. Jim and Jim are tough competitors and have become good friends and that makes it even more satisfying to me to help them achieve their goals."
"We've got a tremendous line-up for this year, and we definitely want to be on the podium again, perhaps even higher!" Lowe said. "Last year's result was a major highlight for me, and I'd love to walk home with a watch this year."
Joining Lowe and Pace will be Tim Sugden, RJ Valentine, and Johannes Van Overbeek. Daytona veteran Valentine and teammate Andy Lally won more Rolex GT races than any other driver in 2007, and will be running in at least eight races in 2008. Van Overbeek is the recipient of the 2007 Porsche International Driver's Cup, after being one of only two drivers who managed to take Porsche to victory in the American Le Mans GT2 category. Porsche selects one independent driver a year for the honor, with an alumni list that includes Bob Wollek, Marc Lieb, and Kevin Buckler after his wins at Daytona and Le Mans in 2002. Similarly, JLowe racing's fifth driver Tim Sugden also won the prestigious trophy in 2005, adding to his impressive list of accomplishments.
TRG's No. 67 car is yet another entrant with high expectations for this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona. As a car with four hot young talents, patience and consistency will be the key to their race. Driving in his first Daytona 24 Hour race, season-long driver Tim George, Jr. puts it best. "I think we have one of the best driver line-ups in the race. I look forward to making my debut with TRG with such great co-drivers. I understand that we must all stay clean and consistent. As in everything I do, I will give this race my best effort."
Running in his second race for TRG, New-York native Tim George, Jr. will be joined by an all-star line-up. Driving alongside Tim for the whole year will be the 2006 Daytona 24 Hour winner Spencer Pumpelly. Spencer will be looking to add another watch to his collection, or perhaps give it to his new fianc0x00e9? In addition, 2001 US F2000 Champion Bryan Sellers will join the 67 car. Bryan will be running select races in 2008 for TRG with RJ Valentine. Finally, completing the line-up will be 2006 Porsche SuperCup Champion Richard Westbrook, the latest addition to Porsche's arsenal of factory drivers.
For Kevin Buckler, the addition of Westbrook is a major honor. "Richard is undoubtedly a major addition to our team. Over the years he has developed quite a reputation as one of Porsche's hottest properties, so it's great to see him join Tim, Spencer, and Bryan."
When it comes to legends, look no further than the line-up of TRG's No. 62 entry, which is sponsored by Foametix, a leader in spray-on foam insulation. Featuring five different drivers from different backgrounds, the team is highlighted by one of sports-car racing's most colorful characters in Jack Baldwin.
"I've been friends with Kevin for a very long time, and it's great to run together this year," stated the Trans-Am legend. "We've got some really hungry guys in this car, and I really want to see everyone get the best out of this experience."
Driving alongside Baldwin will be Claudio Burtin, Scott Tucker, Ed Zabinski, and Martin Ragginger. Claudio Burtin has a wealth of experience in various sports cars and Trans-Am machines, and is a longtime friend of Baldwin. Kansas native Scott Tucker joins the team for his second run in Daytona. Despite only running in his first ever professional car race in 2006, Tucker has already elevated himself to a proven race winner in the Ferrari Challenge series. Ed Zabinski joins the group as one of the most versatile winners on the team. In his 23 years of racing, Zabinski has driven open-wheel cars, sports cars and prototypes. Completing the line-up will be Porsche's newest German hot-shoe Martin Ragginger.
For Buckler, the opportunity to work with Ragginger is an exciting prospect. "Martin was blindingly fast in the SuperCup series. He's a young gun with a lot of enthusiasm and endless amounts of speed, and I really look forward to working with him and helping to steer him toward the top of the podium. This is a great car and a terrific group of drivers. Watch these guys. "
In the No. 63 car, youth and experience is the name of the game for this foursome. Starting with 22-year old Duncan Ende, speed and patience will be the key to his race. As one of the up and coming stars of last year's KONI Challenge series, and one of TRG's newest professional drivers, Ende will be making his Daytona 24 debut. Joining Ende will be Ron Yarab, Pierre Bourque, and Hima Maher. Bourque brings a wealth of experience in different forms of motorsport, from driving Porsches to NASCAR. Yarab is making his first Daytona start after testing successfully with the team in 2007. Maher is living his dream with the opportunity to race in the 24, and welcomes his new sponsor Wiegele Helicopter.
"Running at Daytona with the history, prestige, and number of drivers that are coming is unbelievable," Ende said. "This is undoubtedly the biggest race of my life, and I look forward to making the best of it."
Also in the "legends" category, completing TRG's seven-car attack will be the No. 65 of Russ Oasis, Tom Atherton, Jim Stout, Jason Daskalos and veteran road racer Tommy Archer. For years the group has been recognized as a staple for the Dodge Viper brand, competing and winning in the Trans-Am and Speed World Challenge series. Having driven at Daytona for years with Dodge, the opportunity to run with TRG and Porsche at Daytona will provide a new challenge.
"The 65 car is our sleeper car," stated Kevin Buckler. "These guys are all accomplished racers, they're smart, and they are all good friends. These are all critical ingredients for a successful race at Daytona. Tommy Archer is one of the most recognized and respected drivers in sports car racing. He's run his own team for years and managed to garner a lot of success. It's a real honor that they came to us for this year's race, and I know they bet on the right horse."
Car 68 is back with a vengeance again this year piloted by a trio of Skip Barber all stars and friends. Michael Gomez, Michael Auriemma, and John Mayes will be making their first run as a team together in a brand new TRG prepared 08 car. It will be the 2nd Daytona 24 for Gomez and Auriemma. "This is a great group of guys and they all have extensive experience at the speedway and will rely on their speed, smarts and good team chemistry for this years successful run" commented Buckler.
The addition of the four Factory Porsche Drivers will really put a cap on this incredible TRG lineup.
Romain Dumas is coming off a stellar year in 2007. Running full-time for Roger Penske's American Le Mans Series effort in the Porsche RS Spyder, the Frenchman accumulated eight wins to earn him the LMP2 championship. Emmanuel Collard is considered one of the most versatile drivers in the paddock. Having driven everything from Formula One cars to Daytona Prototypes he will be looking for his 2nd win at Daytona
Also from the Porsche squad will be 2006 Porsche SuperCup Champion Richard Westbrook, the latest in Porsche's arsenal of factory drivers. Completing the line-up will be Porsche's newest German hot-shoe Martin Ragginger.
The addition of these drivers by Porsche to the TRG squad is a major honor for Buckler. "We have a long history of working hand in hand with Porsche and the Factory Drivers here at Daytona and with quite some success. We understand and respect that is a major vote of confidence by Porsche in our teams abilities to once again deliver the goods and we are ready. I honored to a part of this tradition and to have Romain, Emmanuel, Richard and Martin as part of my squad. These guys are the best or the best and they are truly welcome addition to this years Daytona effort.
The team is preparing for the January 4-6 test. The TRG Daytona assault brings a combination of challenge and promise. Seven cars are a major task, requiring over 100 crew-members, a caravan of haulers, endless amounts of food and drinks. Not to mention the many flights, hotels and extremely detailed planning for the whole army. However, for TRG this is all part of the tradition.
"It is sort of a logistical nightmare but the guys are used to it by now and everything tends to flow smoothly" Buckler joked. "We're able to run such a large number of cars because we employ incredibly talented people to run the program. Our experienced and efficient operation allows us to try to make each and every aspect of our program top-notch so everyone benefits. As our support from Porsche demonstrates, TRG has always prided itself on putting the best group of guys in place to do what they do best. It's the only way we could continue to pull this off year after year. Our driver line-up is one of our the strongest ever for 2008. There's not a weak shoe in the whole group, and not a single driver who can't maintain a solid pace. It's going to be tough, but it would be nice to see the top step of the podium again. We are confident and we are ready."