Daytona International Speedway, 27 January 2017 – This weekend the strongest collection of racing cars and drivers in recent years will line up for this year’s 55th edition of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, in what is the ultimate race against time. The 55 car strong field will start the race at 14:30 local time on Saturday 28 January, which marks the start of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
An all-new field of Prototype (P) race cars make their world debut this week in what is referred to as America’s toughest and most prestigious endurance race. These machines, the fastest and most technologically advanced that have ever graced the Championship, will battle to cross the finish line first on Sunday afternoon. The new regulations alongside the gruelling nature of this 24-hour race exemplify Rolex’s continued quest for excellence and perfection, demanding the greatest perseverance and durability from man and machine in extreme conditions.
Yesterday, teams competing in this year’s event took to the famous Daytona International Speedway for the first day of racing action. Joao Barbosa in the #5 Mustang Sampling Racing dominated the early stages of qualifying in one of the new Cadillac DPi Prototypes; whilst the sister No. 31 machine, driven by Dane Cameron made a late charge for pole position, it was Jaoa Barbosa’s time of 1:36.903 that was quickest and the #5 car will take the green flag in tomorrow’s race. #38 Performance Tech Motorsports will lead the Prototype Challenge (PC) class with #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing the fastest GT Le Mans (GTLM) race car and #51 Spirit of Race the quickest GT Daytona (GTD) team.
A truly international event, Daytona always brings in a strong collection of driver line-ups including; Jeff Gordon, four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion; Sébastien Buemi, former Formula 1® driver and Scott Pruett, five-time winner of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA. These leading drivers are all vying for the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA trophy and motor sport’s most coveted award, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watch.
This year Dario Franchitti, three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and 2008 Rolex 24 At DAYTONA winner, will perform duties as Grand Marshal and deliver the famous command “drivers, start your engines”. The legendary racing driver says: “I’m honored to serve as the Grand Marshal at this year’s Rolex 24 and I’m excited about performing the starting orders. The Rolex 24 At Daytona has an incredible history and demands so much from the drivers and teams – it is a true race against time demanding the utmost durability and performance.”
Five-time Rolex 24 At DAYTONA champion, Hurley Haywood will serve as the Honorary Starter and said: “I spent 40 years taking the green flag but never throwing it. It’s exciting to be here. There are a lot of great-looking cars and a great driver line-up.”
ROLEX AND DAYTONA
Rolex’s connection to Daytona harks back to an even earlier time when Daytona Beach was considered the capital of land speed records in the early 20th Century. The long, flat and very firm Daytona Beach played host to 14 land speed records in the early part of the 20th century – five of which were set by Sir Malcolm Campbell, including the fastest official record there of 276mph in 1935 at the wheel of his mighty Bluebird with a Rolex on his wrist. In 1992 Rolex formalized this long-standing association with Daytona and the Speedway becoming the Official Timepiece and Title Sponsor of the 24-hour Daytona classic, further strengthening the link between the race and the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watch. After 25 years, the brand is now so closely tied to the event that motor sport aficionados simply refer to it as “The Rolex”.
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. Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, the brand pioneered the development of the wristwatch and 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.
Virginie Chevailler, Rolex SA
+41 22 302 26 19
For international media enquiries:
Sophie Rowlatt, Influence Sports
+44 7541 237 399