PORSCHE JUNIOR DRIVER MARTIN RAGGINGER TOPS PORSCHE 911 GT3 EFFORTS AT PROLEX 24 RACTICE DAYS IN SUB-FREEZING DAYTONA; ALEX JOB RACING, TRG PLEAD PORSCHE EFFORTS --The defending Rolex 24 winners, the Brumos Porsche Riley DP team, with five...
PORSCHE JUNIOR DRIVER MARTIN RAGGINGER TOPS PORSCHE 911 GT3 EFFORTS AT PROLEX 24 RACTICE DAYS IN SUB-FREEZING DAYTONA; ALEX JOB RACING, TRG PLEAD PORSCHE EFFORTS
--The defending Rolex 24 winners, the Brumos Porsche Riley DP team, with five drivers and one car to defend their title, finished eighth overall in the three day event which saw ice and temps in the 20's--
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Jan. 10, 2010 - Martin Ragginger, the Austrian-born Porsche Junior factory driver now living in Germany, who is making his third appearance at the Rolex 24 despite his tender age of 22, turned the fastest Porsche lap of the weekend for the GT class today at Daytona International Speedway in the final day of the Roar Before The Rolex 24, a three-day Grand-Am sanctioned practice session leading up to the January 30-31 running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Ragginger was fastest in Sunday's GT sessions with a lap of 1:49.627 (116.906 mph) in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, a car he will share with Claudio Burtin, Dominik Farnbacher, Jack Baldwin, and Mitch Pagerey.
Following two days of unseasonable cold temperatures - with Saturday morning's session scrubbed due to sleet and icy conditions - Sunday practice was run under sunny skies with temperatures in the mid 40s (degrees Fahrenheit). The Rolex Series sessions ran incident-free, with the only stoppages for minor spins, debris and a blown engine.
In the Daytona Prototype class, the Brumos Racing Porsche Riley, which formed a bookend to last season by winning the Rolex 24 in January and then closing the season with a win at the series finale in Miami, will be back with one car and an all-star line-up to defend its title, led by five-time winner Hurley Haywood, who claims this is his last Rolex 24.
"You can kind of sense when it is time to move over and let the faster, up-and-coming drivers through," said Haywood, who will be 62 in May.
"It's those aches and pains, the half-a-second off the pace, and that night vision that all tells you it's time, but I would sure like to finish this with a win," said Haywood, whose most recent victory at the Rolex 24 came in 1991 - he also won the Daytona classic in 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1979. Between the Rolex 24, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the 12 Hours of Sebring, Haywood has 10 major endurance wins.
The other Brumos drivers, Darren Law, Raphael Matos, David Donohue, and Butch Leitzinger, all benefitted from major seat time at the test, with the car running as high as second overall in one of the session. The Brumos Porsche Riley ended up eighth fastest in DP for the three-day test.
Besides Brumos Porsche, an authorized Porsche dealer in Jacksonville, Florida, there is a GT team - Miller Barrett Racing - which is co-owned by dealer Paul Miller Porsche, in Parsippany, New Jersey. Miller's son Bryce, along with former IMSA GT3 star Kevin Roush, Peter Ludwig, and Luke Hines will share the driving duties.
Quickest overall in GT for the three days was Leh Keen, reigning GT drivers champion in the Farnbacher Loles Porsche, who is now driving for Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey in a tube-frame Mazda RX-8. Keen ran 1:49.214 (117.348 mph) in the No. 41 Dempsey Racing/Team Seattle Mazda during Saturday night practice.
Spencer Pumpelly led Sunday afternoon GT practice with a lap of 1:49.700 (116.828 mph) in the No. 71 TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup co-driven by Tim George Jr. and Bobby Labonte.
"We've been making the car better in every session, and making it more drivable to make it consistent through a run," Pumpelly said. Getting to run with Tim George Jr. and Bobby Labonte - along with Porsche factory drivers Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard - in the Rolex 24 is a dream come true. I can't wait."
Dumas and Bernhard - last minute additions to the entry list - were not at the test. Keen, Ragginger and Pumpelly were trailed in GT by Porsche factory driver Joerg Bergmeister in the No. 67 TRG/Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche GT3 and Sylvain Tremblay in SpeedSource's Mazda RX-8. Bergmeister's co-driver and American Le Man Series co-champion -factory driver Patrick Long - held onto the fastest time on Friday in the TRG/Lizard Porsche effort, which also includes Johannes van Overbeek and Seth Neiman.
Other Porsche factory drivers who will participate in this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona include Wolf Henzler (in a TRG Porsche), and Richard Lietz (with new Porsche team owner John Potter, Porsche Supercup champion Jeroen Bleekemolen and veteran Craig Stanton),
Several Porsche factory drivers are on loan to non-Porsche teams, including Sascha Maassen and Emmanuel Collard, who will drive a BMW prototype. Former factory drivers Richard Westbrook, Lucas Luhr, and Mike Rockenfeller are also entered in the event.