DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The three-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 testing session concluded on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.
For the past three days, more than 100 cars from GRAND-AM’s Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge teams turned test laps on the 3.56-mile road course preparing for the 51st anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 26-27 and the GRAND-AM 200 on Friday, Jan. 25.
The fastest lap of the entire test in the Rolex Sports Car Series was turned by Michael Valiante in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley on Sunday morning. Valiante, who will share the driving duties with Chris Cumming, Gustavo Yacaman and Jorge Goncalvez, posted a speed of 125.576 mph.
“I think we’re in good shape for the 24 to have a contending car and maybe one for the pole,” Valiante said. “The team did a fantastic job. This test is always a challenge with so many drivers. For myself, I’ve been here quite a few times. The focus was more to get the drivers in our car that don’t run (Daytona) Prototypes as much and haven’t been here as much.
“For us, it’s a brand new car and we’re just making sure there are no issues and getting (the drivers) cycled through the car. It’s a bonus to be one of the fastest cars out there. I don’t think all the cars showed their full potential. Some of them are holding back a little bit but we’ve got a good shot.”
In the GT class, fastest overall for the test was Patrick Long, who turned a lap of 118.045 mph in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche on Saturday morning. In the newly formed GX class, Shane Lewis in the No. 16 Napleton Racing Porsche Cayman was fastest with a lap of 110.324 mph, which was also set on Saturday morning.
During the three-day test, race teams were faced with different weather conditions with rain showers and coolers temperatures dominating the first day of testing on Friday.
Dario Franchitti, co-driver on the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing BMW Riley, says the variety in conditions will help teams better prepare for the twice-around-the-clock challenge.
“I do expect it to be warmer when we come back for the race itself,” Franchitti said. “It’s always good to get some running in the rain. Jamie (McMurray) and Scott (Dixon) ran in the rain (Friday) so if it rains for the race, we might be sticking them in the car. All different conditions help because it just gives you more experience of the conditions you could experience in the 24 Hours.”
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.