Valiante and Goossens Join Crown Royal Extra Rare Rolex 24 At Daytona Campaign with Michael Shank Racing
(Columbus, OH) 22 December 2010- The No. 60 Crown Royal Extra Rare (XR) Ford-Riley will be well-stocked with speed, experience, and international flair once again for the 49th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona as Michael Shank Racing announced the addition of Belgian Marc Goossens and Canadian Michael Valiante to the No. 60 team driving roster for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. Goossens and Valiante will team with full-season pilots John Pew and Ozz Negri as Michael Shank Racing targets a momentum-building season opener at the World Center of Racing this January.
Valiante, who scored podiums with Pew as his co-driver during a full season campaign with Michael Shank Racing in 2009, arrives at the effort with two years of experience with the team already under his belts as he looks to make his seventh career start in the 24 his best yet.
"I'm really looking forward to the 24, it's just such a big race and every time you get to race for Michael Shank Racing, you know you are going to have a good car underneath you with a great crew backing it up" said Valiante. "It is a very good environment in the team, and I think having Marc as part of this effort is going to make us that much stronger. There are so many variables in a race like this, but to know that you are part of a line up like this gives you a lot of confidence for the race. I'm looking forward to getting off to a good start at the test days and just keeping ourselves out of trouble and in contention for Sunday afternoon in the 24."
Like Valiante, Goossens has proven to be a race-winning driver in Daytona Prototype competition, but is still chasing his first Rolex 24 podium to add to his career accomplishments. His relationship with Negri goes back several years to when the two were teammates in Europe's cut throat open-wheel categories.
"Michael and I have tried to put together a deal a few times in the past, and I'm very glad we could work it all out for the coming Daytona 24H," said Goossens. "With a line up as we have, I think we can be serious contenders. All of us know the race, the cars and the series and all of us have a lot of endurance experience. And what is most important, none of us are too busy with our egos but are all team players. Michael Shank Racing really doesn't need any introduction--the team has been around and know this event as well as anyone. Also they have been preparing and testing extensively. "So I hope the combination of all the above confirms my feeling, which is that we have a serious chance this year. Another aspect is being teammates with Ozz again. It goes back to 1992 when we raced as teammates in British F3. I really look forward to a great result in Florida in January.
The No. 60 entry scored a run to second place in 2006 with Negri as one of the drivers, and team owner Shank suspects that this could be the best chance to date for the team to match or beat that result.
"You look at the guys we have in this car, and it's hard not to feel confident about the chance we have to be very competitive," said team owner Mike Shank. "Michael and Ozz have been bouncing ideas off each other for the last two seasons, so they know how to work well together and John has enough experience in this race to play a very important role. Marc (Goossens) is one of those guys that we've had our eye on for a long time so it's great that it worked out to have him on board. He's very very fast, but he also knows how to bring the car home and that is so crucial for an effort like this."
The effort will kick off with the Roar Before the 24 test at Daytona International Speedway on January 7-9.