Daytona 24: Spirit of Daytona pre-race notes

Racing Improves the Breed-- and the Racecar DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (25 January 2008) -- Automakers have long subscribed to the belief that racing improves the breed, meaning that development on the racetrack trickles down to the road and Spirit ...

Racing Improves the Breed-- and the Racecar

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (25 January 2008) -- Automakers have long subscribed to the belief that racing improves the breed, meaning that development on the racetrack trickles down to the road and Spirit of Daytona Racing enters this weekend's 46th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona with that same frame of mind, looking to use the endurance test to push the Porsche-powered Fabcar to the limit and keep the development progress moving forward.

After enduring a steep learning curve, driver Guy Cosmo, 30, of West Palm Beach, Fla., will start the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Porsche Fabcar on the 11th row of the 66-car field taking the green flag when the Rolex strikes 1:30 PM EST. Cosmo shares driving duties with Marc-Antoine Camirand, 27, of Saint Leonard d'Aston, Quebec, and Michael McDowell, 23, of Charlotte, N.C.

While most other teams racing in the Daytona Prototype class of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series have had several years' worth of development behind them, the Lonzano Brothers-tuned Porsche motor is in its racing infancy. Thus every event session for the Spirit of Daytona crew is step closer to the front, but a step they must take nonetheless.

"As a racer, you always want to be competitive, running at the front," said Cosmo after setting the team's fastest lap of the weekend in qualifying. "So that can make days like this a bit frustrating since we of course would have loved to be a little closer to the front. But it's important to take a step back and see the bigger picture. Right now, we are about five years behind everyone else in terms of development. So every session, every lap, we are learning something and applying it. The result is that while we may not be as fast as we would like to be in the global sense, we are getting faster in real terms and that will get us to the front in due time."

Team co-owner Troy Fils has seen many miles and many laps at Daytona, and the veteran pit-wall resident knows that a program like this takes equal parts innovation, creativity, and patience as the team keeps moving the performance goalposts further in the highly competitive Rolex Sports Car Series.

"Racing is about development in every sense," Fils reflects. "Right now with a new package, our focus is on finding the best mix with our chassis, motor and tire package. Once we're there, we can begin to refine it and that is were we'll find the last ounces of speed that make the difference between starting on row and 11 and starting within the first three rows. But this is a great opportunity we have here, to go racing for 24 hours, put this car to the ultimate test, and just keep improving. Obviously we'd love to have won the pole but we know we have to get through this stage of development first and taking on this race is going to be not just a big step forward, but hopefully 24 hours of moving forward in every sense!"

With 24 hours worth of racing ahead of them, the Spirit of Daytona team now has the best racing laboratory at their disposal. Racing against one of the most competitive fields ever, day and night under a variety of conditions is just the right type of pressure cooker environment the team seeks to meld all of their new parts into one winning piece.

-credit: sod

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Guy Cosmo