Testing Underway Next Week In Daytona
Two days of testing for the 51st Rolex 24 At Daytona get underway next week. At least 19 GRAND-AM Daytona Prototype and GT teams have announced plans to participate in the Tuesday-Wednesday sessions over Daytona International Speedway's 3.56-mile, 12-turn course.
Next week's activities, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, will be the first of two tests in advance of the Jan. 26-27 twice-round-the-clock race. The traditional "Roar Before the Rolex 24" – which annually draws upwards of 100 DP, GT and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge cars – follows on Jan. 4-6.
Defending Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Ozz Negri and John Pew will return in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley as well as 2012 GT winners Andy Lally and John Potter in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3.
The test marks the debut of Team Sahlen's pair of DP BMW/Riley entries. It also marks the debut of Jordan Taylor in his father Wayne Taylor's No. 10 Corvette DP and his brother Ricky Taylor's move to the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP alongside Richard Westbrook and Antonio Garcia.
Reigning GT champion AIM Autosport Team FXDD with Ferrari will bring four drivers to shake out its No. 69 Ferrari 458 – co-champions Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal as well as Nick Longhi and Anthony Lazarro.
Also on the GT side, Marsh Racing will begin preparations for its first Rolex 24 At Daytona. The No. 31 Corvette again will be shared by Boris Said and Eric Curran.
Audi of America will participate in next week's test but has yet to nominate the drivers for its No. 52 Audi R8 GRAND-AM.
Team Sahlen has been busy since receiving its first BMW engine in early October. The No. 43 got a shake down at Carolina Motorsports Park before five drivers – Dane Cameron, Joe Sahlen, Joe Nonnamaker, Wayne Nonnamaker and Will Nonnamaker – participated in a three-day test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
"I cannot believe how responsive this car is to driver input. There was a lot of anticipation in the buildup to this day," said Sahlen. "But in the end, I am quite happy with how the transition for both the team went, as well as for me personally getting behind the wheel."
The team believes the experience it gained in the GT category – pit strategy, pit stop speed and mechanical prep – will transfer seamlessly into DP. "We feel that the past knowledge of our lead engineer Catherine Crawford Wallace and professional driver Dane Cameron have with prototype race cars will allow us to quickly learn," said Will Nonnamaker.
For Marsh Racing, the test marks a new beginning for a team that's a GT veteran but never a Rolex 24 At Daytona participant. The team has previously competed on Daytona's 3.56-mile course but in a sprint format event.
"It will be interesting," said team owner Ted Marsh, who plans to relocate the Connecticut-based team to Florida during the months prior to January's race. "We'll try to work on our fuel mileage. We're on the (engine) dyno all the time."
A section of the Oldfield Grandstands will be open free to the public with access available through the lobby of the Daytona International Speedway ticket office. Sports car fans will also be able to watch testing action through a Daytona International Speedway Track Tour. For a complete tour schedule and pricing, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.