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DATE News (chronologically)
01/29/12
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Rolex 24 Hour 17: Wilson on top in Shank Ford  
Justin Wilson

It's no secret that Champ Car produced the best drivers in America.  From the Andretti, Foyts, Unsers, Juan Montoya and even today's crop of drivers.  The best ones came from Champ Car or Champ Car Atlantics.  It was the best racing series in America until Tony George destroyed it. 

At the Rolex 24, where the biggest names in American racing are gathered to meet this weekend, it is those same Champ Car trained drivers that shine.  Be it Justin Wilson, who currently leads, Juan Montoya, Ryan Dalziel, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and even Scott Pruett - when they are in the car they take the other drivers to school.

At the 17 hour mark Wilson leads Joey Hand (who also came up through the Champ Car ladder series) and Lucas Luhr.

With 17 hours of competition behind them, drivers racing the 50th edition of the Rolex 24 At Daytona were fighting fatigue and the track as the sun rose over turn three at Daytona International Speedway.  With few clouds in the sky, the challenge for drivers was to adjust from racing in the dark, while dealing with the glare off Lake Lloyd, as they came around the corner.  As to be expected, there had been attrition during the night due to accidents and mechanical issues, and as the sunshine welcomed fans for the final hours of the race, all eyes were on Scott Pruett and his #01 BMW Riley.  Pruett, who is the owner of Pruett Vineyard and co-author with his wife of four children’s books when not on the track, is within striking distance of tying Hurley Haywood’s record five wins of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

“It was a great start,” said Pruett, in describing the early hours of the race.  “We took our time, worked our way to the front.  The car is good, solid.  I really thought there would be more drama, more contact.  Everybody is cautious, but it’s playing out better than expected.”

As the hours count down to the 3:30 p.m. finish, the skill of the drivers in controlling their vehicles, their knowledge of each other’s driving styles, and the reliability of their vehicles will determine who enters the record books as winner of the golden anniversary edition of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

A cultural icon returns
Among the driving factors contributing to an increased number of entries in the GT class for the 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona, not to mention fan excitement, was the new cars from Ferrari.  The iconic Italian marque from Maranello built the 458 Italia Grand-Am specifically for the Rolex GRAND-AM Sportscar Series and five were entered in the 45-strong class, two of them from Risi Competizione, with #62 owner Ray Langston (Miami Beach, Fla.) and team manager Giuseppe Risi (Houston, Texas) combining efforts to try and put Ferrari back in the winner’s circle for the first time since 1998.

“Every victory is always special,” said Risi.  “But winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona this year would be extremely special for Ferrari because Daytona has a unique place in the heart of Ferrari, especially considering the history of Ferrari at this race.”

“Daytona is a little different from other endurance races,” continued Risi.  “For example, at Le Mans there are about the same number of cars but it is a much longer circuit.  Therefore the Rolex 24 At Daytona is an even more difficult race in some ways than Le Mans, since at Le Mans the drivers have a little bit of relief while on the straight-aways.  Here they are working hard all the time and there are more pit stops here…it’s like a 24 hour sprint race.”

Risi has been associated with Ferrari for 40 years:  “I have had a passion for Ferrari ever since I was seven or eight years old in Italy; that is when I heard a 12-cylinder Ferrari for the first time.  My enthusiasm and passion is as strong today as it was back then.  I have known Ray [Langston] for quite some time, and people like him are what the Ferrari world is all about.  Outside of their private life and their profession, their Ferraris are their passion and it’s a combination of a dream and a passion with their cars.  A lot of companies make great cars but Ferrari creates a passion.”

While engine failure took Langston’s #62 car out a little past the five hour mark of the twice-around-the-clock endurance challenge, Risi ‘s #63 car – driven by Tony Vilander (Finland), 2000 Rolex 24 At Daytona champion Olivier Beretta (Monaco) and Andrea Bertolini (Italy) – was running fifth in the GT class with four hours remaining until the checkered flag is waved.

Hour 17 Standings

Pos

No. PIC Driver Laps Behind Gap Team
1 60 1 Justin Wilson 534 0.000s 0.000s Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Ford / Riley
2 01 2 Joey Hand 534 25.308 25.308 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW / Riley
3 8 3 Lucas Luhr 534 1:22.306 56.998 Starworks Motorsport Ford / Riley
4 6 4 Felipe Nasr 533 1 LAP 1 LAP Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Ford / Riley
5 5 5 Darren Law 531 3 LAPS 2 LAPS Action Express Racing Corvette DP
6 02 6 Juan Pablo Montoya 530 4 LAPS 1 LAP Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW / Riley
7 2 7 Marco Andretti 528 6 LAPS 2 LAPS Starworks Motorsport Ford / Riley
8 77 8 Paul Tracy 522 12 LAPS 6 LAPS Doran Racing Ford / Dallara
9 90 9 Jan Magnussen 520 14 LAPS 2 LAPS Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP
10 9 10 JC France 514 20 LAPS 6 LAPS Action Express Racing Corvette DP
11 44 1 Andy Lally 511 23 LAPS 3 LAPS Magnus Racing Porsche GT3
12 59 2 Marc Lieb 511 23 LAPS 2.445 Brumos Racing Porsche GT3
13 67 3 Wolf Henzler 511 23 LAPS 1:27.093 TRG Porsche GT3
14 57 4 John Edwards 510 24 LAPS 1 LAP Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R
15 63 5 Andrea Bertolini 509 25 LAPS 1 LAP Risi Competizione Ferrari 458
16 23 6 Butch Leitzinger 508 26 LAPS 1 LAP Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3
17 70 7 Sylvain Tremblay 508 26 LAPS 26.372 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8
18 66 8 Allan Simonsen 507 27 LAPS 1 LAP TRG Porsche GT3
19 88 9 Matthew Marsh 506 28 LAPS 1 LAP Autohaus Motorsports Camaro GT.R
20 69 10 Anthony Lazzaro 504 30 LAPS 2 LAPS AIM Autosport Team FXDD Racing with Ferrari Ferrari 458
21 45 11 Seth Neiman 504 30 LAPS 8.346 Flying Lizard Motorsports with Wright Motorsports Porsche GT3
22 32 12 James Sofronas 503 31 LAPS 1 LAP Orbit/GMG Porsche GT3
23 68 13 Kevin Estre 503 31 LAPS 15.144 TRG Porsche GT3
24 93 14 Bill Auberlen 502 32 LAPS 1 LAP Turner Motorsport BMW M3
25 40 15 Charles Putman 501 33 LAPS 1 LAP Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8
26 42 16 Wayne Nonnamaker 500 34 LAPS 1 LAP Team Sahlen Mazda RX-8
27 24 17 Cort Wagner 498 36 LAPS 2 LAPS Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3
28 26 18 Carlos Kauffmann 497 37 LAPS 1 LAP NGT Motorsport Porsche GT3
29 56 19 Michael Waltrip 497 37 LAPS 59.071 AF - Waltrip Ferrari 458
30 03 20 Guy Cosmo 494 40 LAPS 3 LAPS Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari 458
31 22 21 Kevin Roush 493 41 LAPS 1 LAP Bullet Racing Porsche GT3
32 76 11 Nic Jonsson 491 43 LAPS 2 LAPS Krohn Racing Ford / Lola
33 64 22 Gaetano Ardagna 487 47 LAPS 4 LAPS TRG Porsche GT3
34 75 23 Matt Bell 482 52 LAPS 5 LAPS Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R
35 55 24 Douglas Grunnet 478 56 LAPS 4 LAPS Acumen Motorsport Porsche GT3
36 65 25 Jack McCarthy Jr 464 70 LAPS 14 LAPS TRG Porsche GT3
37 82 26 Dick Greer 459 75 LAPS 5 LAPS Dick Greer Racing Porsche GT3
38 50 12 E Forbes-Robinson 457 77 LAPS 2 LAPS 50+Predator/Alegra BMW / Riley
39 18 27 Mark Thomas 455 79 LAPS 2 LAPS Muehlner Motorsports America, LLC Porsche GT3
40 99 13 Memo Gidley 445 89 LAPS 10 LAPS GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP
41 19 28 Marco Seefried 434 100 LAPS 11 LAPS Muehlner Motorsports America, LLC Porsche GT3
42 41 29 Don Kitch Jr 411 123 LAPS 23 LAPS Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8
43 12 30 Jon Miller 400 134 LAPS 11 LAPS Alliance Autosport Porsche GT3
44 20 31 Franz Engstler 396 138 LAPS 4 LAPS Liqui Moly Team Englster/Mitchum Motorsports Porsche Porsche GT3
45 34 32 Phil Fogg 383 151 LAPS 13 LAPS Orbit/GMG Porsche GT3
46 4 33 Ron Yarab Jr 300 234 LAPS 83 LAPS Magnus Racing Porsche GT3
47 51 34 Ian Baas 275 259 LAPS 25 LAPS APR Motorsport Audi R8 Grand-Am
48 36 35 Taylor Hacquard 270 264 LAPS 5 LAPS Yellow Dragon Motorsports Mazda RX-8
49 15 36 Doug Harrington 256 278 LAPS 14 LAPS Rick Ware Racing Ford Mustang
50 17 37 Bryan Sellers 228 306 LAPS 28 LAPS Burtin Racing with Goldcrest Motorsports Porsche GT3
51 74 38 Saeed Al Mehairi 227 307 LAPS 1 LAP Oryx Racing Audi R8 Grand-Am
52 48 39 Mark Wilkins 224 310 LAPS 3 LAPS Paul Miller Racing Porsche GT3
53 46 40 Ivo Breukers 172 362 LAPS 52 LAPS Michael Baughman Racing Corvette
54 62 41 Gianmaria Bruni 154 380 LAPS 18 LAPS Risi Competizione Ferrari 458
55 87 42 Emilio Valverde 101 433 LAPS 53 LAPS Racers Edge Motorsports Dodge Viper
56 94 43 Billy Johnson 86 448 LAPS 15 LAPS Turner Motorsport BMW M3
57 43 44 Will Nonnamaker 21 513 LAPS 65 LAPS Team Sahlen Mazda RX-8
58 10 14 Max Angelelli 14 520 LAPS 7 LAPS SunTrust Racing Corvette DP

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