MWR OWNERS WALTRIP & KAUFFMAN QUALIFY IN DUBAI
International Racing Events Part of MWR'S Business Strategy
CORNELIUS, N.C. -- Michael Waltrip Racing owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman will start 22nd in class and 27th overall in Friday's Dubai 24 Hour sports car race at the ultra-modern Dubai Autodrome. More than 80 cars from 30 countries made qualifying efforts on Thursday.
Waltrip and Kauffman along with co-drivers Rui Aguas and Matt Griffin will pilot the Ferrari F430 GT2 of the AF Corse team in the sixth annual event that marks the first international motor race of the 2011 season.
Waltrip said there many differences between his sports car and a NASCAR Sprint Cup car.
"We had to get through qualifying today without our power steering," said Waltrip. "This Ferrari is a little bit different than a Cup car. When the power steering goes out in a Cup car you can kind of manhandle it. In this car it's really a handful. They'll get the power steering sorted out and we'll be good to go for the race."
Kauffman said the starting spot isn't indicative of how fast the team expects to be during the race.
"In a 24-hour race the qualifying position is a little less important, but you have to be there at the end," Kauffman said. "So that's our strategy. The car is fast the crew is fast so I think we have a real chance."
Waltrip and Kauffman raced in Dubai last year and in Belgium where they scored an impressive third-place finish on the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit. The 3.5-mile track at the Dubai Autodrome is one of the most modern in the world with a combination of high-speed straights and technical corners.
MWR executive Calvin Wells III said the team's participation in international racing events is part of a worldwide business strategy. In the last year, MWR's international effort has included visits to the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, Toyota Motorsports Festival in Japan as well as races and tests in Dubai, Belgium and Portugal.
"It's important for MWR to have our owners promote our company on a global stage. Michael is the two-time Daytona 500 champion, and Rob is an accomplished sports car racer in his own right," said Wells, MWR's vice president and chief operating officer.
"Everything we've done internationally in the last year, from Goodwood to racing in Belgium and Dubai, is about raising the awareness of Michael Waltrip Racing on the international level. The world is changing and our sport is changing. We are seeking fans and sponsors globally. We believe there is a lot of interest in NASCAR around the world, and we believe taking our owners to those audiences will soon pay dividends."
The 24-hour race will start on Friday at 2 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET).