JANUARY 4, 2014
Like the prologue to a good book, the opening sessions of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 have set the scene for the main action of the upcoming Rolex 24 At Daytona – the renowned twice around the clock endurance challenge which will take place just three weeks from now at Daytona International Speedway.
The Roar is vital in the preparations for the Rolex 24 and there is a palpable buzz of excitement in and around the track this weekend. Start with the four new classes that were created through the merger of GRAND-AM and ALMS – the Prototypes (P), which merges the old Daytona Prototypes with LMP-2 and DeltaWing; the open cockpit Prototype Challenge (PC) class; the GT Le Mans (GTLM); and the GT Daytona (GTD) – add in the fresh faces of a crop of new young racers, throw in new team driver lineups and new car packages and the new year is getting off to a frenzied start as one and all set their sights on the coveted Rolex timepiece that is awarded to the winners of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
“There is a lot of pressure here to do well and it is even more magnified when you are with a major manufacturer like SRT Motorsports,” said California’s Jonathan Bomarito who will race the #93 Viper GTS-R in the GTLM class. “We’re all very focused and although it may be very cold here today once we put on the helmet it all goes away.”
SRT Motorsports will field a second car, the #91 driven by Texan Ryan Hunter-Reay. “This is some of the most competitive racing in the world, especially in the GT category,” said Hunter-Reay. “We all want to win a watch. We all want to win this race.”
Chilly temperatures prevailed for the opening day of practice with most drivers giving their mechanics plenty of respect for their hard work. American Spencer Pumpelly, driving the Flying Lizard Motorsports #45 Audi R8 in the GTD class, admitted being happy to stretch out his driving stint as the car was the warmest place at the track.
“It was interesting today to see different cars running together at different speeds, from four different classes,” said Brazilian driver Christian Fittipaldi who set the fastest time in the P class on the first day of the three-day test with a time of 1:38.630 (129.940 mph) in the #5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP. “All in all it was a very good day. We managed to put into practice everything we learned since our last test here. The car felt very strong but we still have a long way to go before the race.”
There are a total of 63 cars are preparing for the Rolex 24 At Daytona by participating in this weekend’s test event which wraps up on Sunday, January 5.
About Rolex Motorsports - Leading brand of the Swiss watch industry, Rolex, headquartered in Geneva, enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its Oyster watches, all certified as chronometers for their precision, are symbols of excellence, performance and prestige. 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 introduced in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces inhouse all the essential components of its watches, 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, science, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities as well as philanthropic programs.