The Rolex 24 outing is a regular one for Wilson, as the versatile driver has raced in the event frequently since first debuting with a run to the podium with Michael Shank Racing in 2006.
The relationship with Shank’s team yielded a huge Rolex 24 win in 2012 as Wilson and co-drivers John Pew, Ozz Negri, and AJ Allmendinger broke through for a victory. 2013 once again saw Wilson on the podium at Daytona International Speedway as the team rallied from a nine lap deficit to finish 3rd.
The event traditionally proves to be an international all-star race, as drivers from a wide range of racing categories from across the globe kick off the year with the big endurance challenge. This year’s running, the 52nd since the event’s inception, is set to be the biggest yet as the race is the first-ever to be run under the IMSA TUDOR SportsCar Championship banner following the merger of the Grand-Am and American Le Mans Series.
The race also marks the first competition outing for Wilson since he suffered an injury in the season-ending IndyCar event at California Speedway. The injury required some patience from the avid cyclist as he was forced to suffer through weeks of inactivity as he patiently waited for the three fractures in his pelvis to heal. Wilson was given the go-ahead from doctors to return to the bike and weights late last year, and got the chance to put that condensed training to use earlier in the month as he tested with the team at Daytona.
“It was great to get back in the car, this was the first time in about four months I think, so that is always good," said Wilson, who in 2012 used the Rolex as his first race back following a back injury. “The car feels good. I love the sound and the feel of the new Ford EcoBoost engine, it's a lot of fun to drive. I'm just looking forward to the race now. We will get a few more miles in and we have a lot of work to do but everyone is working hard and it is fun to be a part of this group and be back here and hopefully we have a shot at getting another Rolex."
The test was also the first official outing for the new IMSA regulations, which have seen the grid grow to some 68 entries across four classes. Wilson will race in the top “P" (Prototype) class as Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian debuts a new EcoBoost motor from Ford.
"We are just trying to take it one step at a time, not looking too far ahead," said Wilson after the opening tests. “We don't have any preconceived ideas about the race and we are just taking it one step at a time. I would love for us to win it again but we have to make sure we do all of the right things and give ourselves a chance."
Practice for the event will open this Thursday (January 23) with the green flag set to fly at 2:10 PM ET (7:10 PM ET UK time, Motors TV) on Saturday.
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