USRRC Rolex 24 At Daytona Update January 6, 1999
TEST DAYS BEGIN JANUARY 9: The annual tune up for the Rolex 24 At Daytona takes place this weekend, with cars on track Saturday, January 9 through Monday, January 11. Included in the test are two night/light sessions at 6:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. These sessions will determine the amount of lights (20 percent or 100 percent) used for the race.
MORE THAN 80 EXPECTED FOR 1999 ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA: With 74 cars already entered for the 37th annual endurance classic and another six number reservations received, the total of possible entries now sits at 80 even. With at least four more cars expected in GT2 alone, the field is quickly approaching the 85-car starting limit imposed this year.
Of the 80 cars registered, a record 24 are Can-Am cars. In prototype class history, only 1985's 29-car GTP field was bigger. The field consists of nine Riley & Scott Mk. IIIs, five Ferrari 333 SPs, three Kudzus, two Lolas, two Spices and one entry each from Argo, Kopf Keiler and Norma. Six different engines are represented, with nine Fords, six Chevrolets, five Ferraris, two Mazdas, one Buick and one Lotus.
No less than 17 GT2 cars are entered, with more on the way. Of the cars entered, there are nine Porsches, two Corvette C5-Rs, two Vipers, one Acura, one Lister, one Marcos and one Mazda.
The biggest class of the 80-car field is GT3, with a whopping 33 cars entered. As expected, Porsche has the most cars, with 21 911/993-bodied cars, one 968 and one 986 Boxter. BMW has five cars, all former or current factory entries, two Ferraris and one each from Mazda, Mitsubishi and Nissan.
GTT is the smallest class, with five Chevrolet Camaros and one Ford Mustang Cobra making up the six-car field.
DEFENDING CHAMPIONS ENTER LISTA FERRARI: Defending race champions Mauro Baldi, Arie Luyendyk and Didier Theys will again share a red Ferrari 333 SP Can-Am entry, this time with team leader Fredy Lienhard and Lista sponsorship.
The trio helped Gianpiero Moretti achieve his first win in 15 tries in 1998, and returns with Doran Racing in an attempt to repeat. All four drivers were expected at the test this weekend, but Luyendyk's participation will hinge on his recovery from gall bladder surgery December 28. The semi-retired Indy car driver expects to be ready for the January 30 race if he cannot test.
"MAD" MAX BACK IN STAR-STUDDED FERRARI: "Mad" Max Papis will be joined by 1998 FedEx Championship Series runner-up Jimmy Vasser and former CART and Formula One star Stephan Johansson in Jim Matthews' brand-new Ferrari 333 SP. Matthew's will be the team's fourth driver and the team will be run by Doran Racing.
In only two appearances, Papis has become a Daytona favorite. His late-race charge in 1996 nearly gave Gianpiero Moretti his first win, and his electrifying drive through the night in 1998 earned him his second Fastest Race Lap record in as many tries. Papis drove the Arciero-Wells champ car from 1996-1998, and moves to the Team Rahal seat vacated by retired Bobby Rahal for 1999.
Vasser, the 1996 CART Champion, used a late-season charge culminating in a win in the season's final race to finish second to teammate Alex Zanardi in points.
Johansson comes off a second-place finish in the 1998 Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta to make his second Rolex 24 start. His 1995 Ferrari run placed him 41st overall. Johansson recorded his best season in Formula One driving a Ferrari, when he placed fifth in the 1986 World Championship.
Matthews makes his second Can-Am start at the Rolex after competing in GT3. He sold his two Riley & Scott Fords to DLW Racing following the 1998 season, and looks to improve on his best finish of 1998, a fourth in Can-Am at Watkins Glen.
INTERSPORT ENTERS SECOND LOLA: Jon B. Field's Intersport Wheel Works team has joined Konrad Motorsport in entering a new Lola B98/10. Intersport's No. 28 Banana Joes Lola and its No. 29 Banana Joes Riley & Scott will have Ford power.
Preliminary drivers for the No. 28 entry are Field and Ryan Jones. Field finished 10th in 1998 Can-Am points with a best result of fourth at Mid-Ohio. At 18, Jones is the youngest driver entered in the event. He made seven U.S. F2000 starts in 1998 with a best finish of 10th at Watkins Glen.
Leading the No. 29 entry is five-time Rolex 24 veteran John Mirro, who finished 21st in 1998 Can-Am points, including a fourth-place effort at Mid-Ohio. Joining Mirro are Butch Brickell, who finished fifth at Homestead in 1998 and Samuel A. Brown, who has made two Rolex 24 starts -- 26 years apart (1970 and 1996).
The team has registered the No. 30 Ford Riley & Scott, but has yet to enter the car in the race.
GENESIS RACING AND SBF RACING ENTER ONE-OF-A KIND CARS: Genesis Racing has entered its No. 12 National Paintball Chevrolet Kudzu for Rick Sutherland and Chuck Goldsborough. The duo looks to turn their 1998 luck around after completing just five laps in their Kudzu when their Mazda engine failed.
SBF Racing has entered the No. 78 Inn On The Bay/SLT Buick Norma M14 for Edouard Sezionale, Sylvain Boulay, Patrice Roussel and Eric Van De Viver. The team, car and all four drivers are Daytona rookies.
THREE MORE EUROPEAN PORSCHE GT2s ENTERED: Freisinger Motorsport has entered two and Proton Competition has entered one Porsche 911 GT2s for the race only.
Leading the Freisinger entries is the No. 48 TSW Alloy Wheels entry for Wolfgang Kaufmann, Michel Ligonnet and Lance Stewart. Stewart finished third in the 1998 World Challenge T2 Championship and teamed with Ligonnet to win GT2 at October's Petit Le Mans race. Ligonnet also won the final two rounds of the 1998 GTR Euroseries. Manfred Jurasz is the lone driver listed on the No. 49 Freisinger entry.
Proton Competition finished sixth in GT2 in the 1998 Rolex 24 after having a strong run in the race's early stages. Driving their No. 55 entry will be Patrick Vuillaume.
JOHNSON AUTOSPORT ENTERS TWO GT3 PORSCHES: Johnson Autosport has entered two Porsche 911s: the No. 15 Marcus Dental Supply Co. Porsche 911 for Marcus Gustafson and the No. 97 Porsche RSR for Tom McGlynn. Neither car has completed its driver lineup.
PERSPECTIVE AND REISER/CALLAS TEAMS COMPLETE GT3 FIELD: Perspective Racing has entered the No. 69 Porsche 911 for rookies Thierry Perrier and Jean-Paul Richard and Rolex veteran Jean-Louis Ricci. Ricci contested three previous Rolex 24 At Daytona events (including twice in a GTP Porsche 962), each ending in retirement. Ricci was the 1992 C3 winner at Le Mans.
Reiser/Callas Rennsport has entered the No. 02 BMS/Castrol Lions/Birel USA Porsche 911 RSR for team owner Joel Reiser, John Mowlem, Grady Willingham and David Murry. Murry was a factory Porsche driver in the LMP class at the 1998 Le Mans 24. He has two runner-up class finishes at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Source: SCCA/SCCA Pro Racing/USRRC