TWO PORSCHES STAGE FINAL PRE-SEASON TEST AT DAYTONA DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Big names who were on hand and a big name who got a "new lease on life" in the big show were the stories as two Porsche teams completed the final pre-season test session...
TWO PORSCHES STAGE FINAL PRE-SEASON TEST AT DAYTONA
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Big names who were on hand and a big name who got a "new lease on life" in the big show were the stories as two Porsche teams completed the final pre-season test session of the winter Friday at Daytona International Speedway, preparing for next week's kick-off event of Speedweeks '95, the 33rd Rolex 24 At Daytona IMSA Exxon World Sports Car Championship and Supreme GT Series event.
Five-time Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Hurley Haywood of Jacksonville, Fla., was one of three drivers who broke-in Jochen Rohr's newly-delivered Porsche 911 GT, which will compete in the Exxon Supreme GTS-1 category in the Rolex 24. Team owner Rohr and Dave Murry were the other testers.
The Champion Porsche team similarly ran-in its equally-new 911 GT, with TV commentator/race driver Bill Adam, defending Rolex 24 GTS-2 pole winner Harald Grohs and Peruvian Neto Jochamowitz sharing that car, which was resplendent in its splashy, day-glo graphics, and prominent STP/Simoniz/Son-of-a-Gun and H.H. Brown signage.
The teams were efficiently able to pack a two-day test into one full day, and cleared the facility just after dark.
Other than creating an extra day for track crews to effect preparations, the best news of the day was that Hans Stuck would join the Champion squad, partnering Adam, Grohs and Dorsey Schroeder.
Adam, who will happily balance his TV work with some competitive driving, was wide in his praise of Porsche's latest "street racer," which he said "turned its first wheel" at Daytona on Friday morning. He also had high praise for "Stucky."
"He's the best, and I'm very excited to be a part of this deal," he gushed. "If it rains, you put him in there; if you need to go fast, you put him in there; if you need the latest jokes, he's the man...
"I've always been a big fan of Hans!"
"It's a marvelous car to drive," he switched to their steed. "It's still a Porsche, but they have gone to an Americanized device -- power-assisted steering -- that makes it a real joy to drive, especially on the banking, where it was truly unpleasant to drive last year.
"This car has twin turbos rather than the single turbo on last year's car, and the response is much, much better. Also, this car has the biggest brakes I've ever seen on ANY race car -- the rotors are 15-inches! Dorsey said he was concerned about saving the transmission and brakes and I said, 'Don't worry about the brakes on this one.' And, they stop the car!"
Adam, as forthright as ever, said he felt the 911 turbos had a realistic shot at an overall victory in the Rolex 24, based if nothing else on Porsche's legendary reliability.
"I'm still skeptical of the reliability of the World Sports Cars," noted the man who's scored a significant seven IMSA GT race victories. "They'll go off and do their own thing at the start, but I just don't think they'll be a contender at the end of the race."
Who then, does Adam see as the primary threat for the overall win?
"The Nissan is still the biggest challenger we all have," said Adam. "Clayton Cunningham (team owner) told me that they're making more horsepower with the V8 than they were a year ago with a turbo. They'll have to break for us to win overall.
"Still, we're excited. Last year's car is very fast, too.It's the car that Brian Redman was run into the wall in (ending its race), but the damage was minimal. The crew's put it back together with some new tweaks and it's better than it was.
"At the test session, using an old motor, we ran (one minute) 55-flat no problem with that car. We could run 52's with ease. That's not as fast as the American cars can run, but we can be consistent with it."
Jochamowitz was happy to be making his second appearance at Daytona, a "nice track, a good facility," that he saw for the first time at the open test earlier in the month. He is a four-time national champion in Peruvian Formula 3, who got his racing start in karts. He has also run touring cars, rallies and Formula 2 in South America; and finished fifth in the European Formula 3 Championship in 1986, along with running two years of Italian Formula 3 and an additional year in England.
The "World Center of Racing" will now be quiet until official practice for the 24-hour IMSA World Sports Car Championship and Supreme GT Series event begins on Thursday, Feb. 2, at 12:30 p.m. The facility opens on Wednesday, Feb. 1, for registration and technical inspection.