BUSY IMSA TEST OPENS '95 SPORTS CAR SEASON AT DAYTONA A BUNCH of cars -- and a number of quick ones -- made the annual International Motor Sports Association's open test session preparing for the Feb. 4-5 Rolex 24 At Daytona an exceedingly ...
BUSY IMSA TEST OPENS '95 SPORTS CAR SEASON AT DAYTONA
A BUNCH of cars -- and a number of quick ones -- made the annual International Motor Sports Association's open test session preparing for the Feb. 4-5 Rolex 24 At Daytona an exceedingly interesting proposition on Jan. 7-8 at Daytona International Speedway.
The Exxon World Sports Car track record unofficially took a beating Sunday as four cars bettered the mark set by Spaniard Fermin Velez in qualifying for the '94 Rolex 24.
As nearly 50 IMSA cars tested for the season opener, Scandia Motorsports' two Ferrari 333 SPs set the pace. Velez drove the #3 Ferrari to the fastest lap of the session, 1:43.731, an average speed of 123.550 mph. Italian Formula One driver Michele Alboreto drove the team car, #33, to a lap of 1:44.510, 122.629.
Also breaking Velez's lap record of 1:45.934, 120.981, was defending WSC champion Wayne Taylor of Altamonte Springs in the #30 Ferrari, 1:44.767, 122.329; and James Weaver in the #16 Riley & Scott Mk. 3, 1:45.480, 121.502.
The test concludes Monday. A section of the Oldfield Grandstand will be open, with access through the Visitors' Center.
* No less than 14 World Sports Cars were on hand for the test. An additional three entered that did not appear. Fast laps follow, with (additional drivers) followed by a listing of cars/fast laps with undocumented driver of record: WSC NO DRIVER(S) ENG/CHAS TIME SPEED
3 Fermin Velez (Evans, Baldi) Ferrari 333SP 1:43.731 123.550 33 Michele Alboreto (Gentilozzi) Ferrari 333SP 1:44.510 122.629 30 Wayne Taylor (Salazar, Theys) Ferrari 333SP 1:44.767 122.329 16 James Weaver (Dysn/Sharp/Paul) Ford R&S Mk 3 1:45.480 121.502 35 Mario Andretti (Wollek/Gdyr) Porsche WSC95 1:45.985 120.923 50 Sigala/Barbazza Ferrari 333SP 1:47.630 119.075 63 Downing/Dickens/McAdam MazdaKudzu DG3 1:50.454 116.030 7 Brown/Bell/Wagner/Julian Chevy Spice 1:51.737 114.698 6 Sutherland/Gray Olds Spice 1:52.698 113.720 8 Mandeville/Camferdam MazdaHawk MDR3 1:54.870 111.570 43 Payne/Williams Olds Denali 1:57.448 109.121 xx TBA Ferrari 333SP NT NS 7A Brown/Bell/Wagner/Julian Buick Tiga NT NS 94 Kopf/Cunningham FordChevronB71 NT NS
GTS-1 90 Tommy Riggins (Delano/Petery) Olds Cutlass 1:49.593 116.942 5 Brassfield/Hoerr/Dismore Olds Cutlass 1:53.597 112.820 72 Adam/Peters/Vargo Porsche 911 T 1:55.004 111.440
GTS-2 55 Trejos/Quiros/Aase Porsche 911RSR 1:59.450 107.292 22 Epps/Newman Porsche 911 2:00.532 106.329 0 Quester/Halsmer/Donohue BMW M-3 2:01.143 105.792
* Scandia Motorsports, Pirelli and Ferrari collaborated on a press conference on Saturday at which team owner Andy Evans announced a three-year deal whereby Scandia would serve as "exclusive development team" for Pirelli in IMSA. "With the technical expertise of Ferrari and Pirelli, we believe Scandia Motorsports now has the potential to win a championship in 1995," Evans said. He announced the season-long lineup for one Ferrari 333 SP would be Mauro Baldi and a driver TBA. Michele Alboreto and Stefan Johansson would partner Baldi at Daytona. The second car will see Evans and Fermin Velez do the season, with defending Rolex 24 winner Paul Gentilozzi and Robbie Groff at Daytona.
* Tony Southgate, the designer of the 333 SP, spoke at the press conference of it being "20-odd years since Ferrari had seriously attempted to win a 24-hour race." At the time of the conference, he spoke of two completely new cars and one other, Scandia's first chassis, as being in the garage. Before the test was completed, two more Ferrari's had joined them -- one '94-spec car that was driven on Sunday by Massimo Sigala and Fabrizio Barbazza; and the other a '95-spec car that was frantically being assembled in the paddock on Sunday evening. "The #3 car has a 24- hour engine," said Southgate, "while the #33 and the #30 have sprint engines running at low revs, because the engine shop's trying to get the other engines done. This is not a completely new car. On the '95 version the most obvious changes are in the bodywork -- a new nose for more downforce and less drag; and side panels with a different oil cooling arrangement, because that was inadequate as it was. The basic chassis is the same. The biggest difference is the endurance engine and transmission package." In response to another question, Southgate simply replied that Ferrari "officially is not going to Le Mans..."
* Paul Gentilozzi said the Ferrari was obviously much different than the sedans he was used to driving in both IMSA and the SCCA Trans-Am Series, but that the car was "surprisingly comfortable and an excellent car to drive. The engine is very smooth and it revs up quicker than anything I've driven. I think we can drive it easily and still complete 750 laps, which I think it will take to win." NOTES
* Michele Alboreto said he was "much more dark in the hair," the last time he had been to Daytona for a race. "I was here in 1981, with the Lancia Martini," said Alboreto. "Daytona is one of the most important races in the world. It would be important to my career to win it."
* Andy Wallace reported that the new Auto Toy Store Chevrolet Spice was frantically being completed in South Florida, therefore it was not at the Daytona test. Wallace reported the team hoped to test the car for the first time at Moroso Motorsports Park in West Palm Beach on Tuesday. His Daytona teammate and another former Rolex 24 winner, Jan Lammers, was also on foot at the test.
* Four-time Rolex 24 winner Bob Wollek was effusive in his praise of the new Porsche World Sports Car, which he briefly tested at Charlotte Motor Speedway before Christmas. "How can you expect better than to drive a Porsche and get paid for it," said Wollek, who shared the car with Mario Andretti and Scott Goodyear. "It's difficult to say how good this car will be... It's brand-new and hasn't been tested a lot. We'll be able to tell a lot more by Monday, because there's so little mileage on the car, now. I've never seen a bad TWR car, or a bad Porsche. (With TWR and Porsche) working together, I can't see it being a flop. There's too much experience and know-how; and the ability to react if something's wrong for it not to be a winner."
* Four-time IMSA GT champion Geoff Brabham arrived on Sunday and was due to test the Porsche for the first time on Monday. He will share the second car with Hans Stuck and 1985 Rolex 24 winner Thierry Boutsen. "It was a bit of a surprise when Porsche called me," said Brabham, "but it was an opportunity worth taking a chance with. It's nice to join an effort where nothing's good enough but to win. I have driven a Porsche before -- I drove a couple races in 1986-87 -- at Mount Fuji in Japan in a 962."
* Chevron's new World Sports Car, the Ford-powered B71-94, arrived at the Speedway late on Sunday. Engine builder Ted Wenz was splitting time between the Chevron and Dyson Racing's Riley & Scott Mk. 3. According to James Weaver, Dyson's car was "run-in" at Roebling Road Raceway, a club and testing circuit outside of Savannah, Ga. "We wanted to take care of all the new-car problems," said Weaver of the car's first runs. Designer Bob Riley, Bill Riley and Mark Scott were all on hand at Daytona to see a promising first outing at the "World Center of Racing" for drivers Dyson, Weaver, Scott Sharp and John Paul Jr.
* Paul Jr. was pleased to report that he would be on hand for the Rolex 24 -- a race he won in 1982. Team owner Kevin Doran said his NASCAR SuperTruck program, for which Paul will drive the full season, is slightly behind schedule, therefore Doran thought it more important that Paul become committed to drive at Daytona. "I might put a Winston Cup driver in the truck for Phoenix (Craftsman SuperTruck opener, on the same weekend as the Rolex 24)," said Doran, who also added he was seeking sponsorship for the Truck program.