New Grand-Am Daytona Prototype Bodywork
The January Test Days for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 officially gets underway Friday, but the new bodywork was unveiled a day early as Riley, Lola and Coyote rolled chassis off of transporters to prepare for the three-day test leading into the 46th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The three cars feature significantly different bodywork as the second generation of Daytona Prototype competition gets underway in 2008. Riley has captured all four constructor titles since the Daytona Prototype era began in 2004, but Lola and Coyote teams hope their efforts will close the gap in Riley's virtual dominance over the first four-year stretch.
Coyote Cars, LLC, which has also been known during winter tests as the Cheever, is the brand name made legendary by four-time Indianapolis 400 winner A.J. Foyt. Fellow Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever brought the No. 16 Cheever Racing Pontiac Coyote to January Test Days for its first competitive laps, and the car will make its racing debut later in the month.
After obtaining the Daytona Prototype license from race car manufacturer Fabcar in September 2007, the Cheever Group deployed the personnel and resources resulting in the CC/08/1 design. The new entry was configured in record time and features a complete revision of the previous technical design yielding a new body shape and a car that is lighter without sacrificing strength. From a marketing aspect, the new race car the Cheever Group looked into auto racing history to bring back the Coyote name.
"We did this in honor of the great success A.J. achieved in his driving career, much of it behind the wheel of race cars bearing the Coyote name," said Cheever. "It's a great racing heritage, and I sincerely admire his achievements both as a driver and as a manufacturer."
Foyt has no personal business stake in Cheever's Coyote Cars venture, but he does have a supportive interest in reviving the Coyote name.
"I respect Eddie Cheever--he was a good Formula One driver and an Indy 500 champion," said Foyt. "Normally I don't do things like this but he (Cheever) wants to make the Coyote name come back to the way it was when I was building cars and winning races. It went dormant since I retired from driving so I'm looking forward to him building a good car."
The Riley Mk XX chassis marks the culmination of lessons learned during the 2004-2007 Rolex Series seasons, which netted the constructor four straight Constructor Championships for its predecessor, the Mk XI. Working with partner Siemens, Riley has evaluated every performance area and designed that knowledge into the Mk XX to maximize the performance capabilities for the new Daytona Prototype entry, which will take the green flag for the first time at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Riley Tech took 13 wins in 14 races and had a near-monopoly on podium results in 2007. Even with the improved competition in 2008, Riley Technologies is confident about its newest product.
"We are really looking forward to seeing this car take to the track," said Riley Technologies VP Bill Riley. "This entire organization has stepped up to use all the tools we have at our disposal to not only create a competitive entry, but also to have this car ready to go in time for the test with the support our customers need to be competitive and ready to go in the 24. We know that we'll be facing some new challengers this year but we feel strongly that with the Mk XX, we will continue to have a successful presence in the Rolex Series."
The Mk XI, which stands out as one of sports car racing's most successful designs with 43 feature race wins from 54 Rolex Series race outings, will be a hard act to follow. But with Riley Technologies focusing its considerable engineering talent and technology resources on the new Mk XX entry, the constructor is looking forward to putting the new car to the test in competition.
"We've been working absolutely around the clock," said Riley Technologies General Manager Ron McMahon, "but if the car is as fast as we think it's going to be, it's going to be tremendously satisfying. That's what we are all about here - making reliable race cars that go as fast as possible. Everything that went into the design, development and production for this new car has boosted our process significantly. It's been a big challenge, and we are proud of the effort we've put into not only a great new car, but also the support we are going to be able to offer our customers."
The Lola chassis was unveiled in the familiar Krohn Racing green with a distinct Daytona Prototype nose to the former Multimatic machine. Proto-Auto, a partnership of Krohn Racing and Lola Cars, is the official constructor of the Lola chassis. The newly designed car, with a CRD-prepared Pontiac engine, performed well in a recent Savannah test, completing over 100 laps with 100 percent reliability during the first day of testing.
"The testing has surpassed expectations," said Andrew Burston, Lola Lead Design Engineer of the Lola Daytona Prototype. "Although we have many small things to do, we have not met with any unexpected items. I am encouraged by the performance of the car and the feedback from the drivers. The group's expertise and enthusiasm, I believe, will ensure the success of the program."
Nearly 70 Daytona Prototype and GT machines will attack Daytona International Speedway beginning at 9 a.m. Friday for the last test session before the 46th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona later this month.