TRG Shows Speed at Roar in Preparation for Rolex 24
All four TRG 997s in the top seven after Roar
Daytona Beach, FL (January 9, 2011) - TRG put its four Porsche 997's through their paces at the Roar Before the 24 test in preparation for the 2011 Grand-Am Rolex Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona. The team leaves the test with the comfort of leading four of the eight practice sessions in the GT category as they begin preparation for the race to be run January 29-30.
The No. 67 TRG/Sargent & Lundy/South Point Hotel & Casino/Porsche was the car pacing the GT field all weekend. Drivers Steve Bertheau, Brendan Gaughan, Spencer Pumpelly, Andy Lally and Wolf Henzler had their blue and black 997 dialed into the track right off of the truck. In daylight they posted a fast time of 1:50.170 and in the night practice a time of 1:50.204 was laid down. Just as important the car ran without fault giving the drivers maximum track time to get acclimated to the newly repaved Daytona racing circuit as well as the competition they will face come the dropping of the green flag on Saturday, January 29 at 3:30 p.m.
"Our weekend is going great," Bertheau said. "We are really having a lot of fun. The car is constantly being adjusted and tweaked and keeps going faster. This is my first time at Daytona. So I worked on building up my speed and confidence on the track. Andy, Spencer, Wolf and Brendan are all great guys. They have been helping me a lot with the details of the car and the track. We have all of the pieces here to be successful at the end of the month, crew, speed and drivers."
"For the 67 team the worst thing that has happened is that Delta has cancelled all of our flights," Gaughan said. "It has been a really successful test. These guys have so much data to draw from and that it is really fun. In NASCAR we don't get to see data anymore. If we do test I get my lap data, over lapped on my lap data. Here I can put my lap data over Andy Lally's, Wolf's and Spencer's. Grab their fast lap with the same car, same tires and compare apples to apples and see where I can improve. For me it has been great. I have taken the weekend like a road course driving school. I have my rolling into corner speeds the same as them, I have my throttle in the same place as them. The last, and crucial part, is the big ball part - how far can you take this thing into the corner and match how deep they go into the braking zone. I don't think I need to match that! I was able to run high 52s, low 53s which I am told is going to be race pace. For me on this program I am happy with where I am at after the test."
"TRG knows Daytona," Lally said. "We were able to get up to speed right away after unloading the cars. We really haven't changed the set-up that much from what we've run in the past. We set the car up for the strong points of the Porsche. The car is very aero efficient and we get through the air really good around the banking. We have some nice cool weather which is easy on the tire. There are a bunch of really good drivers in the car. Brendan, Wolf, Spence and Steve are all doing a great job. We are able to work on little improvements, making up just tenths of seconds in practice, but it all adds up."
BSR 54 The No. 54 TRG/BSR/GMG/Porsche with Tim Pappas, Bret Curtis, James Sofronas, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Patrick Pilet also showed great speed. The 2010 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GTC champions went to bed after night practice third on the GT timing sheet.
"This is a new venture for Black Swan, TRG and GMG to get together," Pappas said. "I am happy with how the teams have jelled and come together and now we are ready to race. The Porsches are strong. We will have to see when the others get into their groove where we end up. I feel really good about the 54 car. The line-up of cars for the TRG effort is very good. I can tell you that the 67 car has a very experienced group and are fast. Our car has a lot experience as well, just not at Daytona. I think we have the little issues we had on Friday out of our system and we are ready."
"We had some challenges early in the week, but the guys worked through them," Curtis said. "I am confident in our speed and our overall package. We had a really good night session, we were able to set a fast time in night practice and have been toward the top of the sheet whenever we went out. The track is smooth you can almost hit the cruise control on the banking. It is confidence inspiring going into Turn One."
TRG 4 The No. 4 TRG/Children's Tumor Foundation/Porsche at the hands of Ron Yarab, Richard Zahn, Daniel Graeff, Kenny Wallace and Ryan Eversley made great strides all weekend. The "senior class" of the TRG armada ended the weekend seventh in combined time.
"TRG has put together an excellent package for us," Graeff said. "We are fast and I think there is more left in the car still. Ryan Eversley is doing a tremendous job helping all of the drivers. We were fifth fastest during last night's practice. We are coming along really well. All of the drivers get along great and it really fun racing with Kenny Wallace. We are going to take all of the measurements off of the car and try and bring it back in the exact same configuration for the race."
"Our weekend really went well," Yarab said. "The car is really fast and I had a great time driving the past three days. In night practice the field was really amped up and some of the guys were getting a little more aggressive, I guess that is a snap shot of what is to come later in the month. I was really focused on being consistent. I am really happy with the car, the TRG guys have got the thing really fast, especially around the banking."
In the No. 66 TRG/Porsche three-time Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona winning driver and team owner Kevin Buckler turned some laps with the help of his sports car co-drivers Dominik Farnbacher, Tim George Jr., and Ben Keating. The team is still finalizing this already strong line-up in what will be the team's fourth entry.<pre> "My weekend has been incredible," Keating said. "This is my first time with TRG and my first time in a Porsche at Daytona. It has met all of my expectations and has been a great experience. I was able to get my times down during the night session. I am excited about the team that Kevin has put together. I am used to driving a big Viper, but the Porsche feels strangely similar. The Porsche is more nimble, you can carry more speed through the corners. I have a sequential gearbox in my Viper so it is not that much different. The car is easy to drive." </pre>
"I was able to get down to some pretty fast times today," George Jr. said. "I have been out of the Rolex cars for a while. It is fun coming back to a short wheel base car. The track is really smooth, the bump is gone in Turn Four and the transition going into the road course is a lot smoother. We were feeling out the new Continental tire on the new pavement. I am looking forward to coming back next week with the ARCA car and feeling the Hoosier tire on the new pavement all the way around the oval. TRG does a really great job here at Daytona. Hopefully we can get the 66 in victory lane this year."
66 TRG Roar Team owner Kevin Buckler made a "cameo" driving appearance and put in a stellar performance on the final day, turning a lap time of 150.7-putting him up on the charts with the best of the young professionals.
"I have always liked Daytona. I've had some of my most memorable racing moments at this track. Car set-up used to always be my thing, so I was hoping I could add some small value to the 66 squad in just helping us build a happy car. I have done this so many times that I know what we need for a race car to be good here. My main goal was this, but I have to admit, I worked out a little harder this week and watched a little in-car video from last year because I really wanted to be competitive."
As the team owner Buckler is very pleased with the way the team worked together all weekend. Leaving the test knowing that he has the speed to win, he will now need to do the prep work on the cars and the drivers to get everything to the finish line at the end of 24 Hours in three weeks.
"It was a really good weekend," Buckler said. "We unloaded the cars and got right down to business dialing them into the new surface. I think we got there faster than everyone else. We really had the basic set-up done during the first session and then we focused on cycling everyone through the cars and getting them comfortable. I am very proud of all of the drivers and crew. Our regulars worked well with our new guys and as a team we were able to get all four cars in the top seven at the end of the weekend. It can be a daunting task to get over 60 crew members and 20 drivers on the same page. We really have a team that resembles the make-up of the United Nations! We have guys from around the world that have to come together for a common goal and we make that work. We are going home with bragging rights of being the fastest in most of the practice sessions, but you don't get a Rolex watch for that feat. Now the work really starts and our times are forgotten. We are taking the cars up to our NASCAR shop in Mooresville, North Carolina to prepare them for the race. No detail will be overlooked on this program. We will be ready for the war."