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Starworks Unveils Impressive Rolex 24 Driver Lineup

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Monday, November 19 2012

The No. 8 Starworks car will be driven by a star-studded line-up at the 24. (Photo courtesy of the Rolex Grand-Am Series)

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A world-class lineup featuring Allan McNish, Alex Popow, Ryan Dalziel and Sébastien Bourdais will pilot the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Riley/Ford Daytona Prototype during the season-opening 51st GRAND-AM Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 26-27, 2013.

In 2012 Starworks became the first LMP2 Champions in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the first North American team to win an FIA World Championship in 46 years. The team also won the 2012 GRAND-AM North American Endurance Championship and led the most laps in a Daytona Prototype.

Those milestones capped a season featuring victories at the 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Le Mans and the first Rolex Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; a second-place result in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and third in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

“I’m confident that this is the strongest lineup for the race,” said Peter Baron, team principal of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.,-based organization. “I think it says a lot about our drivers for the 24 by the amount of phone calls they and I have received this fall from other teams trying to steal them away.

“The great thing about how successful our 2012 was is that it led to improvements into 2013, from drivers all the way though to the crew. We learned an enormous amount this year and the bitter taste of second place finishes in the championship and at the Daytona 24 has motivated us to put in the hours and double our effort to push us to become a championship-contending team. We’ve improved greatly and are more than anxious to get this season underway at Daytona.”

Dalziel clocked an impressive 1-minute, 41.119-second lap to take pole around Daytona International Speedway’s 3.56-mile roval last January.

“I couldn’t be any more excited about our Daytona lineup,” Dalziel said. “After such a strong race there last year we know we have to step it up another level and I truly believe this lineup is amazing. Starworks always build great cars and that showed at Daytona last year, finishing runner-up with most laps led. This year we’re going there with one goal and that’s to dominate. I believe our team can do that.”

Popow is an experienced ALMS and Rolex Sports Car Series driver, and winner of this year’s 12 Hours of Sebring (ALMS Prototype Challenge). The Venezuelan also won the inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I’m very excited about everything that’s happening right now and for the next season starting with the Daytona 24 _ a race that for us is a challenge because we were so close to winning it,” Popow said. ”We know we’re going to be strong, especially with the lineup we have, almost a dream team with Allan, Sebastien and Ryan with me in the car and the Starworks team taking care of the car. It’s going to be, for sure, an awesome race and we hope to win it this time.”

Bourdais, a native of Le Mans, France, is a four-time Champ Car World Series champion and Dragon Racing IZOD IndyCar Series driver.

“I‘m very excited to team-up with Alex, Ryan and Allan,” said Bourdais, a former Formula One driver. “For the first time in my career I will have a shot at winning Daytona and I’m really happy to reunite with Peter Baron’s Starworks Motorsport team after the success we enjoyed earlier this year.”

McNish, an Audi factory driver, is a Le Mans 24-hour winner and three-time ALMS champion from Dumfries, Scotland. He will be making his seventh start in the Rolex 24 in January.

“I’m looking forward to coming back to the Daytona 24 hours with Starworks Motorsport with Ryan, Alex and this year joined by Seb,” McNish said. “Last year we were so close; it was so competitive all the way through the 24 Hours and we just missed-out by five seconds at the end, which was incredibly frustrating in a way. But I was extremely proud of the team because everybody really pulled together and they gave us a great car.

“The success the team has had since then through 2012 in WEC and GRAND-AM has been spectacular to say the least, and I know that everybody is very motivated to go to Daytona to try and go one better this year.”

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Monday, November 19 2012
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