CHAMP CAR STARS JUSTIN WILSON AND A.J. ALLMENDINGER TO COMPETE WITH MICHAEL SHANK RACING IN 2006 ROLEX 24-HOUR ENDURANCE RACE
INDIANAPOLIS (December 6, 2005) -- Looking to get a head start on their third seasons in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, RuSPORT teammates A.J. Allmendinger (#10 Red Bull/Western Union Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Justin Wilson (#9 CDW/Intel/San Disk Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will join Michael Shank Racing's Rolex Sports Car Series squad for the 2006 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Allmendinger and Wilson both posted their best Champ Car results in 2005, helping the second-year RuSPORT team become the first second-year squad in series history to put two drivers in the top five in year-end points. The two drivers made their announcement today from Homestead-Miami Speedway where they participated in the first day of testing for the Rolex 24.
The RuSPORT duo will join former Champ Car Atlantic Series competitors Michael Shank Racing for the twice-around-the-clock endurance event January 26-29, piloting a Lexus-Riley Daytona Prototype with teammates Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri. The event will be the first Rolex 24 appearance for both drivers, although Wilson has some endurance experience on his resume, having competed in the 12 Hours of Sebring as well as the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans.
"He (Wilson) has a lot more experience in this kind of setting, so I think I will follow his and Oz's lead as far as getting the car set up for the race," said Allmendinger. "I am also excited about going up against the drivers we will be racing--not just all the guys from Nextel and Champ Car, but you also have to remember that guys like (Luis) Diaz, (Scott) Pruett and (Max) Angelelli are really fast and know these cars, so it is going to be very competitive."
Wilson comes off a 2005 season that saw him score his first two Champ Car wins with victories at Toronto and Mexico City, wins that propelled him to a third-place finish in the series points. He made his 24-hour endurance debut in 2004 running the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the Jan Lammers Dome/Judd, posting race laps behind only those carded by the dominant Audi squad.
"The pressure and commitment of a 24 hour race make it more fun," said Wilson. "In this kind of racing you have to make compromises with the other drivers, and try to get the car so that everyone can be fast instead of setting it up solely to your liking. It's a whole new environment for us and I am looking forward to working with the team. Everyone has recommended the team quite highly, and I know they were good in Atlantics and have done a good job of coming over to sportscar racing."
This will be the third time that the former Atlantic team has competed in America's longest endurance race, posting a fourth-place finish in the Daytona Prototype class in 2004. MSR joined the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series on a full-time basis in 2004.