Young American seeking payback after late-race Daytona heartbreak
Gustavo Menezes is eager to avenge the ill-fortune that plagued Rocketsports Racing (RSR) in January’s 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona when he lines up on the starting grid for another of the world’s most legendary sportscar races – the 12 Hours of Sebring – this weekend (21 March).
Behind the wheel of the #11 Oreca FLM09 Chevrolet, Menezes and his team-mates were the class of the Prototype Challenge (PC) field at Daytona, leading the way until water pump woes intervened to derail their bid for glory.
Having impressed with his form in Florida, the talented young American ace has been called up by RSR to return to the ‘Sunshine State’ for Sebring, where he will make his debut in the 63rd edition of the celebrated sportscar classic alongside WH Sports Group stable-mate Bruno Junqueira – a three-time Champ Car World Series Vice-Champion – and seasoned endurance racer Chris Cumming. Only Jack Hawksworth is missing from the line-up, due to pre-season IndyCar commitments.
Before FIA Formula 3
In his final sportscar foray before he switches his focus firmly towards his upcoming FIA Formula 3 European Championship campaign with Carlin, Menezes is clear that the goal is to finish the job off after the late-race Daytona heartbreak – and he is well aware that regardless of the result, to have a race of the calibre of the 12 Hours of Sebring on his CV will do his future career prospects no harm at all.
“I’m really excited,” enthused the 20-year-old California native, a former winner of the coveted Jim Russell Driver Scholarship Award. “It’s great to be given the opportunity to get back in the RSR car and gain some more endurance racing experience, and to do so at Sebring – in what is widely renowned as one of the most prestigious sportscar races in the world – is just the icing on the cake. Like Daytona, there’s a tremendous history and heritage attached to the 12 Hours of Sebring – it’s one of motor racing’s true classics.
Reliability is always an unknown in endurance racing,
“Unfortunately, things didn’t go the way we had hoped at Daytona, but if we can replicate the pace we showed there – where we were the fastest team in the PC class virtually all weekend – we should go well at Sebring. I know what my job is and I’m really looking forward to getting out on-track!
“Of course, you can never underestimate the opposition in a race like this and many of the leading competitors from Daytona will be in attendance again, but we have continuity and a lot of strength-in-depth in our driver line-up and that will definitely play in our favour. I’ve got a good relationship with Bruno and Chris and they’re both great guys, and we all know how to get the best out of each other.
“Reliability is always an unknown in endurance racing, and tyre wear will be a significant factor at Sebring, too, but if we can reach the end without making any serious mistakes or encountering any major issues, then we should be on the class podium – hopefully the top step!”