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Corvettes Roar Loudest At Testing For Daytona 24

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, January 8 2012

The SunTrust Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette had top lap in the final day of testing at Daytona on Sunday.

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Max Angelelli ran the fastest lap of the three-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 test session on Sunday morning with a lap of 126.712 mph in the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette DP co-driven by Ricky Taylor and Ryan Briscoe.

The new Corvette DPs took the top five places at the test, with the two Action Express cars following the SunTrust team.

Angelelli sounded cautiously optimistic about his team’s chances in the upcoming 50th Anniversary edition of the 24.

“You’ve got to understand that we were pushing the limit and, in the first session today, we did a qualifying run under the perfect conditions – low fuel, new tires, a good, clear lap, no mistakes,” he said. “It was the perfect lap. Obviously we’re happy, but not because of that lap. We’re happy because we did eight practices without a single issue.

“Our SunTrust Corvette ran really well the entire time. So far, I’ve never had a January test as good as this one. It’s been great, very successful. All we’re hoping for is another weekend like this one, and that will be the race weekend. The sad part is that this was just a test. There is a lot that will have to be achieved on race weekend, but I’m pretty confident.”

The Corvettes were rolled out after the 2011 season. Being so new, there was a lot of concern among the teams using them about potential.

SunTrust owner Wayne Taylor said the car’s performance in the three-days test relieves a ton of pressure.

“I feel much better,” Taylor said. “We’ve got the best crew on the pit lane and they look at every single millimeter of this car. There’s not even a question in my mind that we have the best driver lineup. We have three guys who are fast. We have three guys who are reliable. We have three guys who have done this before, together. And we have three guys who understand it takes a team effort.”

The No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates TELMEX/Target Dinan-Prepared BMW Riley piloted by defending race winners Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Graham Rahal and Joey Hand finished the test sixth overall with a 1:41.761, while the No. 02 Target/TELMEX Dinan-Prepared BMW Riley of Dario Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon and Jamie McMurray finished eighth with a time of 1:41.868. The No.10 Corvette Daytona Prototype of SunTrust Racing with Angelelli/Taylor/Briscoe topped the charts with a 1:41.142.

The team rolled out a pair of new-look Riley DPG3s at the test, which is the new bodywork style for the Riley Chassis manufacturer in the Daytona Prototype category. It was the first test the team has participated in with the new formula.

“For me,” Dixon said, “this is the most fun event we do all year. It gets everyone together. Sure, we want to win the race, but there’s not so much pressure. All of us on the team are pretty close with our times, so everyone pulls their weight. Our times are down a little bit right now as we learn about the new cars, but this team is consistent and it deals with problems really well. It also helps having the same driver lineup back.”

The defending champion No. 1 Ganassi car was involved in an unfortunate situation in the opening laps of Saturday’s night session when the No.01 was spun by another car entering turn three of the infield road-course section of the track, resulting in damage and a tow-back to the garage for lengthy repairs. Due to the limited availability of spare parts for the new bodywork the No.01 team was unable to test the Sunday sessions.

“I had just passed a GT car. He hit me in the rear and I spun. That put me into the guardrail and tires. It’s definitely a little setback. Normally, we’d just throw new parts back on it and get back out there, but since this is a new car, we’re going to take the car back to the shop and take our time getting a good look at everything. We will take advantage of a bad situation and learn from it.”

Ferrari came away with the quickest laps in the GT sessions. Guy Cosmo led Sunday’s testing with a lap of 117.216 mph in the No. 03 Patron Tequila Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am. Toni Villander led the class at the test, running 117.321 mph on Saturday in the No. 63 Risi Competizione entry.

Billy Johnson turned the fastest lap of the weekend in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport (GS) class on Sunday with a lap of 1:56.984 (109.533 mph) in the No. 61 Roush Performance Ford Mustang. Charles Espenlaub turned the second quickest lap of the day in the No. 48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 (109.289 mph), followed by Bill Auberlen in the Turner Motorsport BMW M3 (109.187). All three times were posted in the Sunday’s morning session.

Jeff Mosing was fastest in Street Tuner, turning in a lap of 2:06.959 (100.945 mph) in the No. 56 RACE EPIC/Murillo Racing BMW 328i also in Sunday’s morning session. Cory Friedman, of Autometrics Motorsports, and BimmerWorld Racing’s Seth Thomas rounded out the top three with laps turned in the weekend’s first two days.

The Times:

Daytona Prototype (DP):

– Ricky Taylor/Max Angelelli/ Ryan Briscoe – No. 10 SunTrust Corvette DP – 1:41.142 (126.712 mph)

– Alex Gurney/Jon Fogarty/Memo Gidley – No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette DP – 1:41.541 (126.215 mph)

– Joao Barbosa/Terry Borcheller/JC France/Max Papis – No. 9 Action Express Corvette DP – 1:41.657 (126.215 mph).

Grand Touring (GT):

– Guy Cosmo/Scott Sharp/Johannes van Overbeek/Ed Brown – No. 03 Tequila Patron Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am – 1:49.337 (117.215 mph)

– Butch Leitzinger/Marco Holzer/Cooper MacNeil/Emmanuel Collard – No. 23 WeatherTech Porsche GT3 – 1:49.423 (117.123 mph)

– Nick Tandy/Bill Lester/Tom Long/Rhett O’Doski.Mark Thomas/Thomas Gruber – No. 18 Muehlner Motorsports Porsche GT3 – 1:49.465 (117.078 mph)

Grand Sport (GS):

– Billy Johnson/Jack Roush Jr. – No. 61 Roush Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302R – 1:57.984 (109.553 mph)

– Charles Espenlaub/Charles Putman – No. 48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 – 1:57.267 (109.289 mph)

– Bill Auberlen/Paul Dalla Lana – No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 – 1:57.376 (109.188 mph)

Street Tuner (ST):

– Jesse Combs/Jeff Mosing – No. 56 RACE EPIC/Murillo Racing BMW 328i – 2:06.959 (100.946 mph)

– Daniel Rogers/Seth Thomas – No. 82 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i – 2:07.578 (100.456 mph)

– Robert Stout/Kevin Gleason/Sarah Cattaneo – No. 60 Lucas Oil/Mikita Power Tools BMW 328i – 2:08.078 (100.064 mph)

Notes

– A total of 117 cars participated in the three-day Roar. Joining the 14 Daytona Prototypes in the Rolex Series were 46 cars from the GT class. The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge had a total of 57 cars, 35 in Grand Sport and 22 in Street Tuner. Additional cars are anticipated for the Rolex 24 weekend.

– Spirit of Daytona had the second gear break in its new No. 90 Corvette DP early in Sunday morning’s session. The team replaced the gears and put the car back on track, only to discover that there was a crack in the casing that led to an oil leak, putting the car out for the remainder of the session.

– Action Express Racing faces a triple learning curve for the 2012 Rolex 24. In addition to the new Corvette DP bodywork, the 2010 Rolex 24-winning team also has a new engine (Earnhardt Childress Racing Chevrolet) and a new chassis (Coyote). Team director of team operations Elton Sawyer said the biggest challenge at the Roar has been working with brake temperatures.

– APR Motorsport brought four different cars to the Roar – in three different classes. The team is debuting in the Rolex Series with the No. 51 Audi R8 GRAND-AM. The team also runs the No. 41 Audi S4 in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport class, and has two cars in Street Tuner, the proven No. 171 Volkswagen GTI and the new No. 181 VW Jetta GLI. The Alabama-based team is looking to bring seven cars to the Rolex 24 weekend, including six for the GRAND-AM 200 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge opener.

– Bill Lester has been added to the lineup of the No. 18 Muehlner Motorsports Porsche GT3 for the Roar and the Rolex 24. Lester, a former regular in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, made GRAND-AM history in 2011 by becoming the first African-American competitor to win a Rolex Series race. Co-driving with Ricky Taylor, he won at Virginia International Raceway in the No. 88 Autohaus Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro and finished second in the GT championship, losing by only two points.

– Sarah Cattaneo tested in her new ride with Mitchum Motorsports. She drove in both of the team’s No. 60 and 62 Lucas Oil/Makita Power Tools BMW 328i. Cattaneo won at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 2011 and finished fourth in the Street Tuner championship.

– Aaron Steele had his first test in the U.S., sharing the No. 6 Mitchum Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro with Tim Bell. The British driver won the first Sunoco GRAND-AM 200 Challenge, outpointing drivers in six European series to earn a ride in the 2012 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series opener, a contest that mirrors the Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge for the Rolex Series.

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, January 8 2012
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