DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY, 29 JANUARY 2016
Three weeks after Roar before the 24, the 54 cars taking part in this year’s edition of the Rolex 24 At Daytona® were back at the impressive and redeveloped Daytona International Speedway on Thursday, ready to begin challenging for motor sport’s most coveted award, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watch. 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona® marks Rolex’s 24th year as Title Sponsor of this iconic endurance race, now known simply as ‘The Rolex’, and will kick off this year’s motor sport calendar.
MAKING IT COUNT ON TRACK
After one of the more bizarre qualifying sessions seen at Daytona, it will be SMP Racing’s #37 Prototype that will lead the field to the green flag on Saturday. However, it was the GT Le Mans (GTLM) category that turned the timesheet on its head. In what turned out to be a one-lap shootout, following a 14-minute red flag, it was Porsche North America’s #911 car, with Nick Tandy behind the wheel, that set the fastest qualifying time of the day, 2:01.408. In fact, seven GTLM cars posted faster times than the Prototype classes, largely due to deteriorating conditions during the Prototype sessions - drier conditions are expected for this weekend’s race.
A RACING LEGEND
Whilst not taking to the track this weekend, Rolex Testimonee and one of the most successful endurance drivers of all time, Tom Kristensen, will play an integral part in the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona®. The nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner will serve as Grand Marshal at the event, an honour bestowed only on the legends of motor sport. He will also present the winning drivers with a specially engraved Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watch after the race, in Victory Lane.
In anticipation of this landmark racing weekend for the Swiss watchmaking brand, Tom Kristensen commented: “Rolex is part of the fabric of endurance racing, whether here in Daytona, at the 12 Hours of Sebring or at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It is an absolute honour to be Grand Marshal at the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona, especially given this year marks such a special anniversary for Rolex. As this year’s race gets underway, I know that every single one of the drivers out on track will want to cross the finish line on Sunday afternoon leading their category so they can leave here with what they came for, a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona”.
This weekend’s race will take place from 14.40 EST on Saturday 30 until 14.40 EST on Sunday 31 January 2016. The Rolex 24 At Daytona® is regarded by many as the toughest endurance race, challenging drivers with a unique combination of the high-banked tri-oval superspeedway, interrupted by a chicane on the back straight and a sweeping, fast infield section including two hairpins. Over the course of 24 gruelling hours this year’s 54 cars should complete over 700 laps of the circuit, both in daylight and darkness.
ROLEX AND ENDURANCE RACING
In line with its passion for speed and drive to push back the boundaries of what is possible, Rolex proudly partners the FIA World Endurance Championship as well as the three world-class endurance events that have come to form the Triple Crown of endurance racing, supported by Rolex: the Rolex 24 At Daytona®, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Engine speed and reliability, along with driver and team stamina are magnified during these extremely challenging races, which offer a rich history and require unique concentration, mental strength and skill. The winner of the Rolex 24 At Daytona® and the winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans both receive a specially engraved Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, the ultimate accolade in motor sport, revered for its legendary status, reliability and performance.
Rolex, the leading brand of the Swiss watch industry, is headquartered in Geneva and enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its Oyster watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. A pioneer in the development of the wristwatch as early as 1905, the brand is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces all the essential components of its watches in-house, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports, exploration, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities as well as philanthropic programmes.