DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Roar Before The Rolex 24, the annual three-day testing session in advance of the 51st anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 26-27, kicked off on Friday at Daytona International Speedway.
Fifty-nine Rolex Sports Car Series machines including 17 Daytona Prototypes, 36 GT class entries and six GX class cars turned test laps on the 3.56-mile road course in advance of the prestigious twice-around-the-clock challenge. In the Continental Tire Sports Challenge, 56 cars were testing for the season-opening GRAND-AM 200 on Friday, Jan. 25.
The speed charts following the first day of testing look much like the race results from last year’s 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Fastest of the day in the Rolex Series was the defending race champion No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley with AJ Allmendinger, who turned a lap of 124.526 mph.
“As soon as I got in it, the first couple of laps, I was like this thing feels pretty good,” said Allmendinger, who along with Ozz Negri, Justin Wilson and John Pew captured the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona. “Obviously conditions are going to change and you’re going to have to stay up with the race track but when you can go out there right away and be fast and not even push the car too hard is a good feeling.
“Coming in here, you see everybody’s faces, Michael Shank especially and the crew guys. It’s exciting to come back and be defending champions but it also inspires us to go do it again because we know what it was like to be in (Gatorade) Victory Lane and what that feeling was and to be able to celebrate with each other.”
Last year’s GT class champions in the Rolex 24 – Magnus Racing – was fastest in class on Friday with the No. 44 Porsche GT3 Cup and driver Andy Lally, who posted a speed of 117.232 mph.
In the newly formed GX class, the No. 16 Napleton Racing Porsche Cayman with David Donohue was fastest with a lap of 109.104 mph.
Rules for 2014: During the lunch break of Friday’s test, GRAND-AM Road Racing and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón unveiled the initial concept for the organizations’ unified competition class structure that will debut in January 2014 at the 52nd Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The lineup – in effect for the 2014 and 2015 seasons – is based on a philosophy of inclusion. The majority of classes from both the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and the ALMS will be retained with the exception of the ALMS’ P1 prototype class
Individual class names have yet to be determined. The planned structure:
Specifications for all classes still are being determined and will be announced later this year. In addition, there will be continued discussion regarding the increasing inclusion of green technologies in the new unified series.
Scout Days: During this weekend’s Roar Before The Rolex 24, more than 2,600 Boy and Girl Scouts from throughout the state of Florida will be participating in Scout Days.
The Scouts will camp overnight on Friday and Saturday night in the infield in Turns 3 and 4 as well as participate in garage tours, scavenger hunts, tech talks and pit stop demonstrations.
Roar Before The Rolex 24 continues: The Roar Before The Rolex 24 will continue on Saturday and Sunday.
Among the activities scheduled in the Sprint FANZONE on Saturday include lunch hour fan forums with Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, TRG team owner Kevin Buckler, GRAND-AM President Ed Bennett and American Le Mans Series President Scott Atherton as well as pit stop demonstrations and tech talks. For a complete schedule, visit http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Tickets-Events/Events/2013/Roar-Before-The-Rolex-24/Event-Info.aspx
Roar Before The Rolex 24 tickets are $15 per day and 12 and under are free with a paid adult. 2013 Rolex 24 ticket holders receive FREE admission to the Roar Before The Rolex 24.
In addition, 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.
The Rolex 24 At Daytona, the kick-off event to Budweiser Speedweeks 2013, showcases the world’s best drivers competing against each other lap after lap for 24 hours on Daytona International Speedway’s challenging and demanding 3.56-mile road course.
Two-day tickets for the Rolex 24 At Daytona start at $35 and are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
Fans can follow sports cars on Twitter at GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series (@RolexSeries) and the Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge (@SUNOCO_UK). Fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest for all the latest news all season long.