Rolex 24 At Daytona Update RECORD ENTRY FOR CAN-AM: A total of 22 cars have officially entered in the Can-Am class, the second largest prototype field ever at Daytona, trailing only 1985's GTP entry of 29. The field is comprised of nine Riley &...
Rolex 24 At Daytona Update
RECORD ENTRY FOR CAN-AM: A total of 22 cars have officially entered in the Can-Am class, the second largest prototype field ever at Daytona, trailing only 1985's GTP entry of 29. The field is comprised of nine Riley & Scott Mk. IIIs (seven Ford and two Chevrolet), five Ferrari 333 SPs, two Lolas (one Ford, one Lotus), two Kudzu Mazdas and one Hawk Chevrolet, Spice Chevrolet, Kopf Keiler Ford and Norma Buick.
The largest class of the 83-car field is GT3, with 35 cars primarily made up of Porsches, but including BMW M3s, Nissan 240s, a Chevrolet Corvette, a Ferrari 348, a Ferrari F355, a Mazda RX-7 and a Mitsubishi Eclipse.
With 19 entries, the GT2 class has nearly doubled since last year, largely due to USRRCs commitment to make it the top GT class and Daytona's "Sports Car of the Year" award. The class has eleven Porsche 911 GT2s, three Dodge Viper GTS-Rs, two Chevrolet Corvette C5-Rs, one Acura NSX, Marcos LM 600 and Mazda RX-7 Turbo. If all 19 cars start, it will be larger than any previous Rolex 24 or 24 Hours of Le Mans GT2 field.
GTT is the smallest class, with six Chevrolet Camaros and one Ford Mustang Cobra making the seven-car field.
1998 GT3 CHAMPION BENTLEY WITH NEW CAN-AM TEAM: 1998 USRRC GT3 Drivers' Champion Ross Bentley, of White Rock, B.C., Canada, will lead an international corps of drivers in the newly-acquired No. 15 Yokohama/Truck Air/Park Place Riley & Scott Ford of Hybrid R&D.
Bentley scored two wins and four podium finishes in the five 1998 races with the Prototype Technology Group factory BMW team. It was Bentley's first major Championship in a career which includes everything from the Canadian GM Challenge to the CART Indy car series. Bentley's best-ever finish in open-cockpit prototype racing was second in WSC at Texas World Speedway in 1996. His best Daytona effort was a second in GTP Lights in 1993.
Joining Bentley are 1998 Indy Lights runner-up Didier Andre, making his first Rolex 24 start; Franck Freon, who won the LMP2 class at Le Mans in 1996; and Chris Bingham, who has two Rolex 24 starts in GT3. Hybrid's car was campaigned by the Matthews-Colucci team in 1998, and was initially rumored to be a second entry for DLW Racing at this year's Rolex 24. Rod Everett, who most recently ran Bill Dollahite in 1998 and Craig T. Nelson in 1997, will lead Hybrid's effort.
CHRYSLER ANSWERS CHALLENGE: In an unanticipated move made official just as Daytona International Speedway announced its new Sports Car of the Year Award, the Dodge/Chrysler factory-supported Viper Team Oreca has entered its 1998 Le Mans- and FIA GT Championship-winning Dodge Viper GTS-R. Driving the No. 50 Mobil 1/Mopar Performance/Michelin entry will be Frenchman Olivier Beretta and Americans Tommy Archer and David Donohue. Dodge's entry sets up the official Corvette versus Viper GT2 battle—possibly for the only time this year.
1998 USRRC GT2 CHAMPIONS ENTER ROLEX 24: Reigning USRRC GT2 Drivers' Co-Champions Scott Sansone and Cameron Worth and 1998 GT2 Teams' Champion Pettit Racing have entered the No. 75 Sansone Corp./X1-R/Pettit Racing Mazda RX-7 Turbo in GT2.
While they never reached the top of the podium in 1998, Sansone and Worth teamed for top-five finishes in each of the series' five races, including four podiums and two runner-ups.
Joining the co-champions are Steve Pfeifer and Ryan Hampton. Hampton finished second in the 1998 U.S. F2000 National Championship with three wins and three poles and will make his second Rolex 24 start.
McNISH, BOUCHUT JUMP FROM GT1 TO CAN-AM: 1998 Rolex 24 GT1 and Le Mans overall winner Allan McNish and 1995 overall Rolex 24 winner and 1998 GT1 runner-up Christophe Bouchut have both been added to top Ferrari Can-Am teams. McNish was half of a two-part announcement by Doyle-Risi Racing, which also named Olive Garden as a major sponsor on the No. 7 Toshiba/Olive Garden/Lease Plan/Danka/Pirelli Ferrari 333 SP. Bouchut joins the No. 00 Pirelli/Plastic Zeta/Shell Ferrari 333 SP of Auto Sport Racing.
314 DRIVERS, 22 NATIONS, 2078 WINS, 185 TITLES: The 314 drivers expected to compete in this year's Rolex 24 At Daytona represent 22 different nations (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S.A.). Those drivers have won 2078 professional races and 185 official championships (SCCA Club Racing or Solo events, championships not included). Hans Stuck leads both categories, with 115 wins and seven titles.
TOP GT3 TEAMS RACE FOR CHARITABLE CAUSES: Not only were G&W Motorsports and Alex Job Racing the two fastest cars in GT3 at the January 9-11 test, but they have also turned North America's biggest sports car race into a giant forum to promote some worthwhile charities.
For the third-straight year, AJR will run two cars for Team Seattle—the Seattle, Wash.-based charity benefitting the local Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center. In its first two years, through pledges per lap from individuals and corporations, Team Seattle raised $280,000. This year's goal was initially set at $220,000 to raise the three-year total to half a million dollars.
Heading to Daytona, the team now expects to exceed its goal, with each car lapping at $200 each. At an estimated 630 laps for each car, Team Seattle hopes to hit the $252,000 mark for the event—exceeding their successful 1998 run of $200,000.
"Ever since my first experience at the Rolex 24 in 1990, I dreamed of fielding an all-Seattle team," said Team Seattle founder and driver Don Kitch. "In the past two years, we've done just that, bringing back nearly $300,000 for the kids. We're back in 1999, and I hope this continues to be a long tradition with Seattle, Children's Hospital and the Rolex 24 At Daytona."
Kitch added that all of the pledge proceeds go directly to the Hospital, and all race expenses are paid by sponsors or the drivers themselves. Joining Kitch in the No. 22 AJR/Aerofab/Yokohama Porsche 911 RSR are Wade Gaughran, John Hill and Kim Wolfkill. Kelly Collins, Darryl Havens, Anthony Lazzaro and Cort Wagner will drive the No. 23 entry.
For more Team Seattle information or to make a pledge, call Children's Hospital at (206) 526-2153 or visit its web site at www.teamseattle.com.
G&W Motorsports' No. 07 Porsche 911 RSR will have an interesting decal motif for this year's race to promote The Jennifer Fund, a cause led by drivers Steve and Danny Marshall.
Designed by Dave Schnorr, who has decaled past Champion Motors Porsches for the Rolex 24, the No. 07 entry will feature hand and footprints of some 30 patients at the University of Virginia Children's Medical Center helped by the Jennifer Fund.
Established by the Marshall family two years ago following the leukemia diagnosis of Steve's daughter Jennifer (then 11), The Jennifer Fund helps CMC children and families facing cancer and blood diseases, and supports research and education in the CMC's Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.
"One of the main things we do with the Jennifer Fund is provide amenities for families who spend a lot of time at the hospital," said Danny Marshall, 1998 USRRC GT3 Drivers' Championship Runner-up. "We also use the Fund to buy computer equipment and Gameboys for the kids to try and occupy their time. The fund has also bought Christmas presents the past two years for families who weren't able."
In addition to helping families, the Jennifer Fund aims to produce larger, long-term results through research and education. The fund was started through the brothers' company, Marshall Concrete Products, and grew through donations from its customers and events like golf outings and the recent "Jennifer Ball." Since its inception, the Jennifer Fund has raised approximately $250,000.
"Our involving The Jennifer Fund in racing is more for awareness than for raising money," continued Marshall. "My brother Steve and I will run the 07 GT3 car in USRRC races the rest of the season promoting the Jennifer Fund and we plan to put two good professional drivers in the GT2 car as well. It's important that people know about The Jennifer Fund, but they also need to realize that all the money in the Fund goes toward the families, children and research and not racing."
For more information on The Jennifer Fund, call (800) 297-0102 or visit its Internet site at www.thejenniferfund.org.
Source: SCCA/SCCA Pro Racing/USRRC