Hunter-Reay keeping busy before move to NASCAR
DANA POINT, Calif. — Over the next three weeks Ryan Hunter-Reay may be the busiest man in motorsports. Hunter-Reay will fly over 15,000 miles to compete in three entirely different disciplines of race cars and race formats. Starting this Friday, January 19, Hunter-Reay will compete in the New Zealand Grand Prix, five days later he starts his duties for the legendary Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona and finally he will get behind the wheel for tests in the NASCAR Busch Series.
Hunter-Reay joins TEAM USA in the A1GP Series, ‘The World Cup of Motorsports’ in Taupo, New Zealand. Hunter-Reay, who has never driven an A1GP car, will pilot the “We the People” car in the sixth race of the 2006-07 season and the first-ever A1GP round to be held in New Zealand.
“I can't wait to get behind the wheel of the A1TeamUSA car,” said Hunter-Reay. “It's going to be a blast. A1GP runs in the normal racing off-season and attracts many established top ranked open-wheel drivers from F1, ChampCar, IRL, GP2, etc.” Hunter-Reay continues, “I want to thank Rick Weidinger for the opportunity to represent the United States and I will do everything possible to reward that confidence in me with some great finishes for Team USA in New Zealand. This will be my first time to turn a wheel in an A1GP car, and that coupled with it being a race weekend will make things interesting. I'll have to adapt quickly, but I’m up for the challenge.”
Immediately following the race in New Zealand, Hunter-Reay will board a plane bound for Hawaii, then Los Angeles, and ultimately land in Daytona Beach, Florida. Hunter-Reay capped off the 2006 season in the #10 SunTrust / Pontiac / Riley Daytona Prototype teamed with Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor as the team fought for the GrandAm Championship at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. The team was leading the race with Hunter-Reay in the driver's seat and three hours in the books when electrical problems robbed the team of a potential race win and the overall championship title. Hunter-Reay’s performance in his first Daytona Prototype race in Utah led Riley-Matthews to sign Hunter-Reay to partner with 2006 Nextel Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, Marc Goossens, and team co-owner, Jim Matthews, in the #91 Lowe’s / Pontiac / Riley in their effort to win this year’s Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona.
“The Rolex Daytona 24 is a race I have wanted to compete in since before I started karting at the age of 12,” said Hunter-Reay. “There is nothing like it. I will be racing against, and with, some of the most respected names in motorsports. I couldn't ask for a better situation than to be teamed with Riley Technologies. We developed a great working relationship at last years Miller 9 Hour Endurance race and I can’t say enough about this great team. The fact that I have been able to test the car before this race is a major plus. We have been preparing for this race by testing at Kershaw, Homestead, and Daytona. Our sights are set on a win. I am literally counting down the days.”
Hunter-Reay had a busy and diverse off-season from testing obligations in a variety of race cars to competing in the Baja 1000. The highlight of the off-season was when Hendrick Motorsports selected Hunter-Reay as one of their drivers for the General Motors Busch Driver Evaluation Program. The program tested drivers on a variety of tracks in Richard Childress Racing prepared Busch cars with GM and GM backed NASCAR Nextel Cup team representatives in attendance. Hunter-Reay had never driven a stock car prior to the test, but that did not stop him from consistently being at the top of the time sheets. The test went exceptionally well and opened many doors, including the upcoming NASCAR Busch test.
Hunter-Reay comments on his schedule, “Busy times are the best times. I'm a racer plain and simple. I want to race anything I can get my hands on.”
Hunter-Reay, from Boca Raton, Florida, has a wealth of professional racing experience. The accomplished driver began racing karts at age 12, posted wins and established records at every level before making his mark in Champ Car competition. In 2003, ‘RHR’ became the first American Rookie in over 20 years to win a ChampCar Race (Surfers Paradise, Australia) and posted other series records including most laps ever lead in a single race (250, Milwaukee 2004), the second youngest driver to ever win a street race and the youngest American ever to win a oval race.
The A1GP Race in Taupo, New Zealand begins Friday, January 19, with a rookie practice followed by a one-hour open practice. There is a one-hour practice on Saturday, January 20, prior to qualifying which is comprised of four 15-minute sessions with the best two laps for each driver establishing the grid. The week will culminate on Sunday, January 21 with the 20-minute Sprint Race in the morning and the 70-minute Feature Race in the afternoon.
The Rolex 24 at Daytona begins Thursday, January 25, with practice starting at 10 a.m. Final practice and qualifying will conclude Friday afternoon and the race will start on Saturday, January 27 at 1:30 p.m. RHR PR