One of IMSA’s biggest stars, driving one of IMSA’s newest cars, highlighted the opening day of Rolex 24 At Daytona testing on Tuesday.
Five-time Rolex 24 champion Scott Pruett was on hand, helping to shake down the No. 14 RC F GT3 Lexus, a stunning machine painted in “Ultrasonic Blue 2.0” livery and making its awaited public debut, in preparation for the 55th Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 28-29 at Daytona International Speedway.
“This has been a long time coming and I’m so excited about coming back to Daytona,” said Pruett, who is tied with Hurley Haywood for most Rolex 24 victories all-time. “I love everything about this place.”
This week’s two-day test – which wraps up Wednesday with another 9 a.m.-5 p.m. session – is the first of three preseason tests for the Rolex 24, the season-opening event in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. A total of 14 cars are at DIS this week, negotiating the famed 3.56-mile road course. The next test is scheduled for Dec. 13-14, with the last test, the “Roar Before the Rolex 24,” set for Jan. 6-8.
For the Rolex 24 and the entire IMSA season, Pruett will be joined by former Indy Lights champion Sage Karam in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 of 3GT Racing, which is being tested this week. The 3GT Racing organization will also field a No. 15 entry co-driven by Jack Hawksworth and Robert Alon. Additional drivers for both cars, for the twice-around-the-clock Rolex 24 endurance classic, will be announced in the near future.
Pruett is one of sports car racing’s legendary figures in North America and much of that legend has been constructed at Daytona. His five Rolex 24 victories came in 1994, 2007-08 and 2011-12. Those last four victories came driving exotic prototypes. The first, though, came in a production-based car in a class similar to IMSA’s current GT levels.
Now, Pruett has come full circle. He hasn’t driven a GT-type car at Daytona since, well, 1994.
“From my standpoint, moving from a prototype to a GT car, it’s significantly different,” Pruett said. “There is so much newness … Lexus has a brand new program that’s never been involved in motorsports in North America. This is real now. This is where it all starts.
“There are those tracks that are magical and there are those tracks that are magical for drivers in particular – Daytona is one of those places for me.”
Prior to the next IMSA test, sports cars will return to Daytona International; Speedway on Dec. 1-4 for the Ferrari Finali Mondiali, an event being staged in North America for the first time, bringing together competitors from the European, North American and Asia Pacific series of the Ferrari Challenge for a battle for the World Championship in their Ferrari 458 Challenge EVOs. The Ferrari Finali Mondiali has been previously held in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Spain and Italy. The weekend also will include the display and running of historic Formula 1 cars and Ferrari’s exclusive XX Programmes.
Tickets for DIS events are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat (username: DISupdates), and by downloading the new version of Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest speedway news throughout the season.