Star-studded lineup for the Rolex 24 this weekend
From its beginning, the Rolex 24 At Daytona has attracted a solid lineup of international stars, with Formula One stars Dan Gurney, Pedro Rodriguez and Phil Hill winning in the early years.
That tradition continues in Saturday’s 51st running of the Rolex 24, where 16 drivers with Formula One experience and a number of international champions will challenge the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series regulars and big names from the American Le Mans Series, NASCAR and IndyCar.
“This race definitely has an international atmosphere,” said Allan McNish, a two-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a 16-time Formula One competitor. “It gives us drivers an opportunity to ‘play’ with some of the American stars from NASCAR and IndyCar, along with many of the names we grew up in other categories as well.
“The international flavor has always been here, but the standard of the drivers is higher today among the leading teams. I don’t think there are many of the DP cars that are not capable of running up front.”
The Rolex 24 drivers with Formula One experience are led by Rubens Barrichello of Italy, who won 11 of his 326 Grand Prix starts; Giancarlo Fisichella, a three-time winner in 229 races; and Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia, who had seven victories in 94 races, including the 2003 Monaco Grand Prix. Montoya also has an Indianapolis 500 championship (2000) on his resume.
Other international notables include Frank Biela of Germany, a five-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and four-time winner of the 12 Hours of Sebring; Sebastien Bourdais of France, who won four consecutive Champ Car titles in addition to competing in 27 Grands Prix; and Bruno Junqueira of Brazil, a former International Formula 3000 champion, Formula One test driver and three-time Champ Car runner-up.
“I’m eager to do my first 24-hour race on American soil after having contested so many 24-hour races on European circuit such as Le Mans and Nurburgring,” Biela said. “Obviously, Daytona is a great venue steeped in motorsport tradition, and it was stunning to get to know the circuit for the first time in testing here in January.”
FIA GT champions Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock, European Le Mans champion Stephane Sarrazin, British Formula 3 champions Jan Magnussen, Oliver Gavin, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Felipe Nasr and Porsche Supercup titlists Frank Stippler, Richard Westbrook, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Rene Rast are among the international champions participating in the race.
With enhanced coverage from Motors TV and RadioLeMans.com, race fans from around the world will be able to follow the action in America’s premier sports car race.
While SPEED/SPEEDTV.com and Motor Racing Network will both provide 25 hours of live domestic flag-to-flag coverage of the Rolex 24, Motors TV and RadioLeMans.com will help bring the event to an international audience.
Motors TV will carry the SPEED television coverage to European audiences, broadcasting from 3-11 p.m. ET on Saturday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday.
RadioLeMans.com will cover at least 25 hours of the race weekend, with further details to be announced. The team will be led from Radio Show Limited’s UK studio by John Hindhaugh, joined by Paul Truswell and Nick Daman. They will be joined from Daytona by a number of guests, including Daily Sportscar’s editor, Graham Goodwin, and by Shea Adam, known for her work at Le Mans last year. RSL – the people behind Radio Le Mans’ coverage each year, will also provide commentary for the live portions of the SPEED broadcast carried live by Motors TV in Europe.
GRAND-AM Rolex Series races or highlight programs are distributed in 196 countries and territories, reaching more than 382 million homes.