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Cup’s McMurray Fastest On Day 2 Of The Roar

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, January 4 2014

Jamie McMurray had a big day in Daytona. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

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A NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and a Formula One test driver led the respective Prototype classes in the second day of Roar Before the Rolex 24 testing.

Jamie McMurray, winner of the 2010 Daytona 500 Cup race, paced the prototype drivers with a lap of 1:38.980 (129.481 mph) in the No. 01 Telcel/Target Ford EcoBoost/Riley. Sam Bird, runner-up in the 2013 GP2 championship and test driver for the past three seasons for the AMG Mercedes Formula One team, led Prototype Challenge (PC) with a lap of 1:42.010 (125.635 mph) in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM09.

McMurray was not aware that he was fastest in practice after getting out of the car he shares with defending Rolex 24 winners Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas and reigning Indy Lights champion Sage Karam. The team is looking to give Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates its sixth Rolex 24 victory since 2006.

“Today we’re really trying to get the car comfortable for everyone,” McMurray said. “The car is different from the one we raced here last year, with traction control, and it drives differently with the turbocharger. Absolutely, this would be a huge race to win. I’ve won the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400, and even won in go-karts here. It would be awesome to win the Rolex 24.”

David Brabham ushered in the Daytona Prototype era in the Rolex 24 by winning the class in 2003, driving for Multimatic Motorsports. This year, he will drive an LMP2-spec car in its Daytona competition debut as part of the No. 1 Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b/Honda with Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel for Extreme Speed Motorsports.

“It’s kind of cool to be racing in the first TUDOR Championship race, after being involved here in the very beginning of the DPs here,” Brabham said. “The DPs have come a long way since then. Obviously, I’m used to the P2, having raced the HPD since 2007 and I know the car very well. It’s difficult to say what’s going to happen in the Rolex 24. The two cars have strengths in different areas and perform quite the opposite. It will be a fascinating battle as it goes on.”

Two-time Rolex 24 winner Wayne Taylor is making his return to racing for the event, joining his sons, Ricky and Jordan Taylor, and long-time associate Max Angelelli in the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP.

“It’s great to be driving with them, and that’s a big motivating factor for me,” Taylor said. “But we’re having loads of little issues that are not making it easy. My biggest challenge is that I have to focus on the driving. That’s very tough – given all the details of running the race team – and I don’t want to detract from the guys. The DP is completely different from the last time I drove here in 2011. It’s got a lot more technology, including paddle-shifters, carbon fiber brakes and a six-speed gearbox.”

It was also a day of firsts for Bird, who co-drives with Mirco Schultis, Renger van der Zande and Eric Lux.

“This is my first time stateside, my first endurance race and my first time in a PC car,” said the 26-year-old London driver. “So far, I’m really enjoying it. I hope I get many more opportunities to race in America.

Bird finished second in the 2013 GP2 championship for Russian Time, winning five races. He has also been a test driver for the AMG Mercedes Formula One team for the past three seasons.

“My fastest lap today was only my second lap here,” Bird said. “I haven’t gotten a clean lap yet. I hope to be pushing it into the 41s pretty soon. It’s nice to have a fast one-off lap, but that really doesn’t mean much in a 24-hour race. This form of racing is completely new to me, but I’m loving it and hope to get many more opportunities to do this.”

Full-season co-drivers Dr. Jim Norman and Craig Stanton will be joined at this year’s Rolex 24 by Norbert Siedler and Factory Porsche driver Timo Bernhard in the No. 71 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America.

Bernhard is a two-time Rolex 24 class winner (2002, 2003). He also has five victories in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring and two wins and two runner-up finishes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Additionally, the Homburg, Germany, native won his respective class division three times in the American Le Mans Series, taking top honors in 2004, 2007 and 2008.

“It is a great honor for me to share a car with Timo,” Norman said. “His talents are legendary and we will take this opportunity to learn from him. Adding Timo to our already great Porsche driver lineup should solidify our car as one of the teams to watch. We are going to be good!”

Also joining the team for the Rolex 24 is Austrian sports car veteran Norbert Siedler. Siedler participated in his first Rolex 24 At Daytona a year ago and has since 2008 driven in the Porsche Supercup Series.

Park Place Motorsports is currently completing Saturday testing at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona with two final practice sessions set to close the weekend on Sunday.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, January 4 2014
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