The 52nd Rolex 24 at Daytona will take place this weekend. Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, will have the honour of giving the start to the opening round of the new North American Endurance Championship in which, for the first time in over ten years, Le Mans-type cars will fight for outright victory!
Pierre Fillon, the eighth president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the creator and organiser of the Le Mans 24 Hours since 1923, the 82nd running of which will be held on 14-15 June 2014, will lower the flag on Saturday at 14h10 (20h10 in France) to unleash the 67 cars in the 52nd event.
This great honour highlights the indispensable role the Automobile Club de l’Ouest played in the creation of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship, the result of the merger between the American Le Mans Series and the Grand Am Road Racing series, of which the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona is the first round.
The six LM P2s represented by Morgan, Oreca, HPD and Mazda can now fight for victory in the overall classification reviving history, while in the grand touring category the 11 GT LMs will go head-to-head with the Daytona GTs.
As a matter of interest, the last time a type of car entered for the Le Mans 24 Hours won the Daytona 24 Hours was in 2003 (Porsche 996), and one has to go back to 1990 to find the same type of prototype winning on both sides of the Atlantic the same year – the extraordinary Jaguar XJR-12.
Quite a few of the 67 cars entered this weekend come from teams that enter for Le Mans on a regular basis, as well as for the FIA World Endurance Championship of which the ACO is the organiser and promoter, a role it also plays in the Le Mans continental series. Among them are OAK Racing, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, Starworks Motorsports, Corvette Racing, Aston Martin, Dempsey Racing, etc.
There are also many drivers (over 40!) who usually race in the Le Mans 24 Hours or in the FIA WEC starting with former outright winners in the Sarthe, David Brabham, Timo Bernhard and Mike Rockenfeller, the last driver to have won the two greatest 24-hour races in 2010.
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “The fact that I’ve been honoured by being asked to give the start to the Rolex 24 at Daytona reflects on the whole Automobile Club de l’Ouest. By offering me this prestigious role, the organisers of this event and the promoters of the new Tudor United SportsCar Championship highlight the driving role played by our club in the organisation of endurance races all over the world.
“Not so long ago the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Daytona 24 Hours were the season’s two biggest rendezvous in world endurance racing, with the battle starting here in Florida at the beginning of the year before reaching its climax at Le Mans in June. Thanks to this unified series and thanks to the excellent relations that we now enjoy on both sides of the Atlantic with organisers united around the values of endurance, which the Automobile Club de l’Ouest has defended since 1923 and the first Le Mans 24 Hours, we’ve laid the foundations for the revival of that golden age of endurance racing.”