Rolex Series, Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Kick Off Two-Day Test
The Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype for Spirit of Daytona on track during Rolex Series testing.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- One day after its unveiling, the Corvette Daytona Prototype took its first laps at Daytona International Speedway to highlight the opening of a two-day GRAND-AM test for the Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Testing for both series concludes Thursday, with cars on track from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Antonio Garcia and Oliver Gavin piloted the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette, one of six Daytona Prototypes to participate in preparation for the 50th anniversary running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, which opens the 2012 Rolex Series season on Jan. 28-29.
The lone incident of the day saw Enzo Potolicchio spin and impact a barrier near the chicane in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Ford/Riley. He was unhurt while the car sustained splitter and nose damage. The car is expected to be repaired for Thursday’s session.
Four production-based Rolex Series GT cars also participated. In addition, 20 cars from the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge cars also tested.
-- European stars Lucas Luhr and J.K. Vernay both joined Starworks Motorsport for the test, sharing the team’s No. 2 Ford/Riley with Alex Popow. Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio are back in the No. 8 Ford/Riley that won the 2011 season-ending race at Mid-Ohio.
-- Brian Johnson, lead singer for AC/DC, tested 50+ Racing/Predator’s No. 50 BMW/Riley, joined by Byron DeFoor and former Rolex 24 winners Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Jim Pace and Carlos de Queseda.
-- Skateboard legend Bucky Lasek and Grammy Award-winning music producer Jim Jonsin debuted Rebel Rock Racing’s GRAND-AM team, which will compete in the 2012 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Jonsin and Lasek tested the team’s No. 08 Porsche GT3, while Jon Miller joined Gary and Mark Jensen in the team’s No. 07 Porsche.
-- Chris Knox, champion of the British Mini Challenge Cup, tested the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro – his first time behind the wheel of a race car in the United States.
-- "This is just the first day, so we have to take it step by step. This week is all about learning as many details about the car as possible and getting it ready for the December test. It's all just a learning process at this point. The car doesn't really feel that much different than last year. Basically 80 percent of what we had last year is on this car. The difference is there is a lot more room for improvement now. Last year I think we hit our ceiling, we got everything out of that car that we could. Once we learn this new car I think we'll be much faster everywhere.” Antonio Garcia, No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP.
“It’s nice to be out there in the company of giants. I’ve been running in vintage racing, but this is the pointy end of racing. I’m very committed and determined to do well – I don’t want to let our boys down.” Brian Johnson, AC/DC lead singer and driver of the No. 50 50+ Racing/Predator BMW/Riley
“This is my first time here and my first time in this car. It’s pretty cool to drive. It doesn’t have as much downforce as my Indy Lights car – kind of like a giant go-kart, with a lot more horsepower. I had a good time out there, and my lap times were pretty good.” JK Vernay, No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Ford/Riley
“I think I take my willingness to walk that line; being aware of my surroundings and being able to push the limits; I’m used to skating, so I’m used to executing tricks very precisely. Taking tricks – and turning them into turns – is easy stuff for me. Testing here is learning about being competitive and not making rookie mistakes. That’s why I’ve done a lot of club racing that’s got me to this level. I’m looking forward to getting out and mixing it up with the boys.” Bucky Lasek, No. 08 Rebel Rock Racing Porsche GT3, on the transition from X-Games skateboarding champion to running in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge
“We’re working on refining every little thing we can. We’re trying to make sure we stay on top of the game. That’s why team owner Louis Bacardi is here. We’re doing things at this test we would have no time to do during a race weekend.” Nick Longhi, No. 13 Rum Bum Racing BMW M3, winner of the last two runnings of the GRAND-AM 200 at Daytona.
“We brought two identical Subarus here because having double the cars, means double the testing and double the track time. We can go with polar opposites of each other on the setups, and learn what works best for when we come back here in January.” Brett Spaude, No. 35/135 Subaru Road Racing Team Subaru WRX-STI
The two-day test wraps up on Thursday. The Rolex Series will have three one-hour sessions, while the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will have three 45-minute outings. The next activity for the Rolex Series will be a two-day test at Daytona International Speedway on Dec. 6-7. The 2012 Rolex Series opens with the Jan 28-29 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. There will also be the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 5-8.
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