AIM Autosport announces full season Rolex campaign AIM Autosport announced plans today for a full-season Daytona Prototype campaign in the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve, commencing with the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. The Toronto-based team made one Rolex Series start in 2006 to prepare for the 2007 season, and will compete with the potent Lexus-Riley combination.
AIM Autosport has proven itself as a front-running team in a wide variety of open-wheel categories since its inception in 1995, and has tapped into a driver roster with a similar background for the Rolex campaign. Longtime AIM Autosport driver Mark Wilkins, who most recently impressed while competing a partial season in the Star Mazda Series, will anchor the full season effort from behind the wheel.
Wilkins will share the driving duties throughout the year with brothers Burt and Brian Frisselle, who will alternate rounds co-driving with Wilkins. The Frisselles will both race in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and the 24 effort will be further boosted by the addition of two-time Toyota Atlantic Champion David Empringham to the roster. The Rolex Series program will operate out of the AIM headquarters outside of Toronto, and will be run in conjunction with the multi-car Formula BMW USA and Star Mazda programs already in place. Wilkins, who will be balancing his driving duties with completing his studies in automotive management, has also taken a hands-on role in the day-to-day operations at AIM and is eagerly anticipating his rookie Rolex campaign.
“I’m really excited about this season,” said Wilkins. “AIM is a serious and meticulous operation, and we want to show that with this Rolex effort. We have the right people in place on our Rolex program and I’m thrilled about our driver line-up. Even though we know it’s going to be an adjustment to go from an open-wheel sprint mentality to endurance racing, we know we just have to be smart about our approach. The first focus of course is to finish the 24, get the season started with some points and build our momentum from there.”
The Frisselle brothers have two Rolex 24 At Daytona starts under their belts, and will be putting their experience to good use as they once again get to share the driving duties in the January classic.
“We are both really excited about this season and getting the opportunity to race with AIM,” said Brian. “Of course they will have to learn some new things for this kind of racing, but the attitude and preparation they’ve shown in open-wheel should translate well because they’ve been successful in everything they have ever done. I’ve raced against Mark before, and I was very impressed with his approach during the Homestead test. Having Emp race with us is also a huge bonus because he’s fast, has a ton of experience, and is just a great guy, and all those things are important in a race like this.”
With an outstanding resume littered with championships, and starts in the Rolex 24 going back to 2003, Empringham knows what it takes to be successful in the twice-around-the-clock Daytona event. The Canadian native is confident that AIM has all the right pieces in place for success.
“I think we are one of the sleeper teams coming into this race,” said Empringham. “ (Team owner and lead engineer) Ian (Willis) does an excellent job. Mark is really fast, and I’ve tested with both the Frisselles, and I think they are way underrated, so I think we might have a chance to surprise some people. Usually in the 24, it’s not a question of having a flawless run as much as a question of how quickly the team can adapt when something does happen, and I think AIM is a really strong team even though this is their first time taking on the 24.”
Overseeing the AIM Autosport Rolex program will be Ian Willis, who spent the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona atop the spotters stand in support of Michael Shank Racing’s run to second place.
“I knew that we would be running the 24 in 07, so spending the entire race up there was a great way for me to learn about the flow of the race, pit stops, lapped traffic, and how the field reacted to safety car periods,” said Willis. “It was only one race, but I learned a lot up there. This is a new challenge for this team-it just requires a lot more infrastructure to operate a car for this long than what we’ve been doing, but we’ve been doing as much homework as we can to be ready. I think going with the Lexus-Riley package and having the drivers that we do, we can concentrate on just setting a good pace and try to stay out of trouble and see where we are when the sun comes up.”
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