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Barrichello Sets The Pace On Wet Finale Of Roar

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, January 11 2015

Rubens Barrichello and Tony Kanaan were IndyCar Series teammates at one time. In the Rolex 24, they will be opposing each other. (INDYCAR/LAT USA file photo)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Peter Baron’s knack for attracting big-name drivers to his Starworks Motorsports teams appears to paying off again as the 2015 edition of the Rolex 24 hour race at Daytona International Speedway approaches.

His latest talent catch, long-time Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello, agreed to drive a Starworks Dinan Riley in the Rolex less than a week ago, but there he was on Sunday, the final day of the three-day Roar Before the 24 open test, posting the fastest lap of the final session.

His lap, which came late in a day beset by periodic rain showers, was, in fact, 5 miles per hour faster than the second-fastest lap turned on Sunday.

Barrichello lapped the 3.56-mile circuit in 1:47.230 (119.519 mph).

Afterward, he admitted his fast lap was more about circumstances that driver talent.

“Many people left because they were thinking the track was not going to dry,” the former Ferrari F1 driver said. “We stayed on the track because we needed the mileage. We put slick tires on right at the end, and I was able to get a fast lap. The cars I am running in Brazil are fantastic, but I was missing going 180 mph – because we don’t reach that in Brazil. It’s really good to be here, and I’m looking forward to the Rolex 24.”

Richard Westbrook was second in the afternoon session, running 1:51.785 (114.649 mph) in the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP, while defending Rolex 24 winner Sebastien Bourdais led the morning session with a lap of 1:51.835 (114.597 mph) in the Action Express Racing Corvette DP.

Barrichello, who drove in the IndyCar Series after leaving F1, said his time on the track this weekend has him thinking positive thoughts about the 24, which will be held Jan. 24-25 at the DIS infield oval.

“I’m not excited so much about the time, because that means nothing, but the fact we got the car a little bit better is very encouraging,” said Barrichello, who will co-drive with 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, Brendon Hartley, Scott Mayer and Tor Graves. “We have a lot to do yet (before the Rolex 24), but I’m enjoying driving very much.”

Barrichello will not be a 24 newbie as he drove a GT car in the 2013 race.

In his last full-time racing gig in American, he was teammates with long-time friend Tony Kanaan. In the 24, he will attempt to beat Kanaan, who is co-driving one of Chip Ganassi Racing’s prototypes.

Starworks Motorsport also had fast honors on the day in Prototype Challenge (PC), with Renger van der Zande turning a lap of 1:54.601 (111.831 mph) in the No. 7 ORECA FLM09. Earl Bamber led GT Le Mans (GTLM) with a lap of 1:54.246 (112.179 mph), while Andy Lally paced GT Daytona (GTD), running 1:58.582 (108.077 mph) in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America.

Jordan Taylor ran the fastest lap of the three-day test, going 1:39.181 (129.218 mph) in Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP shared by his brother Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli to lead the Prototype class.

“It was a good test,” the 23-year-old Jordan Taylor said. “These days, you need to have the fastest car because, when you get to the final hour (of the race), you need to race everyone. Five years ago, we wouldn’t focus on a lap-time car. We’d just make it as comfortable as possible. Now, you need to work on lap times and race pace because you know you’re going to come to that last hour having to race for the win. Day 1 this weekend, we just went through things that basically we needed to get through because we hadn’t run the car since the Petit Le Mans.

“So, I wasn’t really going for a lap time or developing the car. It was all about basically getting the drivers reacclimated to everything and getting used to the track again. Day two, we started working on the car and were quickest in the morning and were in the top-three the next two sessions. I think we made good progress on the car. All three of us are comfortable with it. We did a lot of pit stop practice during the night practice to get all the guys back into that mode. Overall, it was quite successful. We definitely have a lot to do on the car before race week. But, I think right now we have a comfortable car I think we can race for the win with. And we’ll just keep working on the car. Last year, we were stronger in the night than we were in the daytime. That’s one of the things we worked on this test, as compared to last year.”

Other class leaders were Colin Braun, Prototype Challenge, running 1:41.769 (125.814 mph) in the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09; Earl Bamber, GT Le Mans, 1:44.316 (122.857 mph) in the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR; and Marc Goossens in GT Daytona, 1:46.948 (119.834 mph) in the No. 33 TI Automotive / ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, January 11 2015
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