‘Roar Before the Rolex 24′ Sunday Updates

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Many of the stars entered in the season-opening 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona are participating in the “Roar Before the Rolex 24.” The three-day test wraps up Sunday with two sessions for both the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Cask No. 16 and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

Two of the new paint schemes are carried by the No. 5 Action Express Porsche/Riley and the No. 43 Team Sahlen Mazda RX-8.

Check in throughout the day for updates.
SunTrust Finishes Ahead of Schedule (Updated Sunday at 2:30 p.m.)
SunTrust Racing is planning to pack up before the conclusion of testing at 3:30 p.m.

“We did everything we had scheduled on our program, so we’re going to finish a lot earlier,” Max Angelelli said. “We went through all the stuff that we needed to.”
Angelelli, the pole winner for the 2010 Rolex 24, co-drives the No. 10 SunTrust Chevrolet/Dallara with Ryan Briscoe and Wayne and Ricky Taylor.
“I can’t wait for the Rolex 24,” Angelelli said.

Montoya Happy With Car (Updated Sunday at 2 p.m.)
Juan Pablo Montoya was pleased with testing the No. 02 Target/TELMEX BMW/Riley he shares with Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Jamie McMurray.

“The test went pretty good,” Montoya said. “We have a good car. We did a lot of pit stop practice and everybody’s happy. We haven’t changed that much on the car. The No. 01 looks pretty good, as well. It’s all a matter of being there at the end to give yourself a chance.”

Montoya won the Rolex 24 in 2007 and 2008. Franchitti shared in the latter victory.

“Our team seems OK, and our cars are fairly quick, but we know that’s only part of the equation,” Franchitti said. “We’re going to have to do the usual things right to even have a chance at the end. It’s the usual story – try to stay in contention until the last two hours, and then give it all you’ve got. Hopefully, we can do that. We had a great car last year but unfortunately we had the failure that took us out. We’ll see.”

Keen Sets Fastest GT TIme in Simulated Qualifying Run (Updated Sunday at 12:50 p.m.)

Leh Keen and Andrew Davis have been tasked with returning Brumos to the forefront of GT competition. Sunday morning, Keen posted the fastest time of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 with a lap of 1:49.329 in the No. 59 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, painted in the historic colors that co-driver Hurley Haywood used in his historic 1973 Rolex 24 victory.

“We’ve been working hard for the past three days and really have everything together,” Keen said. “We had kind of a qualifying run there and track conditions were just right. I just nailed a lap. I felt really good. I’m really happy to be part of this Brumos crew. They really have their act together and squeeze every bit of speed out of these Porsches. I’m happy for this year, driving with Andrew Davis. I’m happy to be driving with Hurley Haywood and Marc Lieb in the Rolex 24 – they’re two pretty big names in the Porsche world.”

Keen is not stamping himself as a favorite to win the pole on January 27.
“There’s a bunch of guys out there that will probably be running faster than that for the pole,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Pruett Under Track Record in Morning Session (Updated Sunday at 12;45 p.m.)
Scott Pruett spent the entire morning session in the cockpit of the No. 01 TELMEX/Target BMW/Riley, running a fast lap of 1:40.329. That unofficially betters David Donohue’s two-year-old Daytona Prototype track record of 1:40.540.
Pruett then hustled to join the team for an early flight to Indianapolis, where Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates is hosting the annual American Auto Racing and Writers Association banquet. Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas – along with Dario Franchitti, the Indy 500 winner who is testing the team’s No. 02 BMW?Riley – are among the candidates for the Jerry Titus Award.

“The TELMEX BMW/Riley was fast and easy to drive when we unloaded it,” said Pruett, who also led both of Friday’s opening sessions. All the drivers did a great job – Joey (Hand), Memo (Rojas) and Graham (Rahal) all got time in the car. We got long runs on the new Continental tires, and that went well. It’s nice coming here to a smooth track. Turns 3 and 4 were getting real rough, and now they’re smooth as glass. Now we’ll go back and prepare to come back in a couple of weeks.

“Running a fast time was not necessarily our intention,” Pruett said about his fast laps. “We were just doing a long run, and shows that with the new track surface, speeds will come down a little bit. Continental has also done a nice job with the tire. We’re focused on going racing and getting to the checkered flag first. The nice thing leaving the test is that there’s no damage to the cars, nothing’s torn up. They’ll just polish on everything and come back in a couple of weeks.”

The team returns to Daytona riding a three-race winning streak dating back to 2010′s championship season. Pruett and Rojas won the Rolex 24 in both 2007 and 2008 (following up the 02 Ganassi car winning in 2006) and then finished second the last two years by a combined 59 seconds.

“I’m just going to keep working out and preparing,” Pruett said of his personal plans. “This is our toughest race of the year. I started preparing for this back in October and kept turning up my training schedule. I upped it in at the first part of January, and will keep working hard right up until we return for the Rolex 24.”
Peterson Unhurt But No. 7 Ford/Riley Damaged (Updated Sunday at 12:40 p.m.)
The test came to an early end for the No. 7 Starworks Motorsport Xtreme Indoor Karting/Burlusa Ford/Riley when Doug Peterson had an incident in the second horseshoe during Sunday’s morning session.

“I just had a little braking and slowing down issue,” said Peterson. “The car was awesome until I put it in the wall, I’ll tell you that. The rear bodywork is definitely hurt.”

The team is working on the car but does not expect to have it ready this afternoon.

Auberlen Very Happy With New Turner Motorsport BMW M3 (Updated Sunday at 11:40 a.m.)

Turner Motorsport made the move to the GT class in 2010, running a BMW M6 in the Rolex 24. For 2011, the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge powerhouse returns to Daytona with a new BMW M3 that has driver Bill Auberlen smiling.

“What a difference a year makes,” Auberlen said. “We were fast right out of the box last year, but we had some teething problems in the Rolex 24. A year later, we have a new M3 and we really know the car. Turner knows how to race GT. This car is fast, it’s powerful and it runs great – and reliable.”

Auberlen will be joined by Rolex Series regular Paul Dalla Lana in the No. 94. Boris Said returns to the team as his regular GT ride – the No. 31 Whelen Corvette – is missing the Rolex 24. Matt Plumb also joins the lineup, filling in for Turner Continental Tire Challenge regular Joey Hand, who is with Chip Ganassi Racing for the Rolex 24.

“Look at this driver lineup,” Auberlen said. “If ever I had a chance to win the Rolex 24, it’s this year. We’ve been sharing top times. We’ve been quickest, the Porsches have been quickest – but the Rolex 24 is all about reliability and not making any mistakes. I’ve won this race a few times, Boris has won it a few times, so let’s see if we can do it again.”

Barbosa Expects to be Competitive (Updated Sunday at 11:30 a.m.)

“Everything is going real well,” defending Rolex 24 winner Joao Barbosa said of the progress of the No. 9 Action Express Racing Porsche/Riley.

Barbosa and regular co-driver Terry Borcheller will be joined by JC France, Christian Fittipaldi and Max Papis in the race.

“We spent the morning putting race parts on the car, and it’s running real nice. I don’t know what everyone else is doing, but we think when we come back here for the race we will be competitive.”

Banner Racing Happy With New Camaro (Updated Sunday at 10:20 a.m.)

Leighton Reese has a new car at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 for the second straight year, with the team transitioning from a Corvette to a Camaro for the 2011 season.

“We’re enjoying it so far,” said Reese, owner of Banner Racing. “Comparing this to last year – both times with a new car – this time is going much more smoothly, showing up with all new everything. We’re getting all four drivers cycled through and they’re happy. We’ve got a good team together, and Ollie (Gavin) is excited to be part of the GRAND-AM family.”

Gavin joins Gunter Schaldach, Eric Curran and Brian Ledoux. This is the same car that Reese drove to victory at Lime Rock Park a few years ago, and was raced by Schaldach as the No. 97 Camaro last year with Stevenson Motorsports.

“It feels like a brand-new car,” Schaldach said. “It’s very responsive, a lot better than it was a year ago. Three of us are running about the same times, and I’m really happy about that, and today Bruce will get getting a lot of track time to get him used to the car.”

“All we need right now is to come up with a sexy paint job and we’ll be there,” Reese said.

Segal: ‘Improving Slowly But Surely’ (Updated Sunday at 10:10 a.m.)

Jeff Segal got a bit of a jolt when he came to Daytona to begin defending the Rolex Series GT championship he captured with Emil Assentato in the SpeedSource No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8.

“We had a tough time after we unloaded,” Segal said. “We were outclassed vs. some of our GT competitors. We’ve been working to improve our car since then. Our laps times are not what we’d like. We’re improving slowly but surely, and that’s the best we can do right now.”

Donohue Feels Changes Are Paying Dividends (Updated Sunday at 10 a.m.)

David Donohue and teammate Darren Law are driving for a new team in 2011, with the 2009 Rolex 24 winners joining defending winners Joao Barbosa and Terry Borcheller to lead a two-car Action Express Racing lineup.

Donohue and Law will be joined by fellow 2009 Rolex winner Buddy Rice and Burt Frisselle in the No. 5 Porsche/Riley, while JC France, Christian Fittipaldi and Max Papis share the No. 9 with Borcheller and Barbosa.
“I think the test is going really well,” Donohue said. “We had a lot of organizational changes within our team, and they are beginning to pay dividends. We realized the differences at the test, and we will continue to see them throughout the season.”

While the Action Express cars were down the list of top speeds after two days of testing, the team is happy with the car.

“We need to find speed, but the car is handling very well,” Donohue said. “It’s easier to find speed if the car is handling. The new pavement will make for a much safer race with more cars not falling out. The smoother banking won’t beat up the cars and drivers as much.”
Muehlner Motorsports Happy With Test (Updated Sunday at 8:35 a.m.)

“Now I understand what everyone has been telling me over the years – once you race at Daytona, you will do it again and again,” said Bernhard Muehlner, team owner of Belgium-based Muehlner Motorsports. The team is testing for its debut in the Rolex 24, running a brand-new Porsche 911 GT3 Rolex Cup. Mark Thomas, Peter Ludwig and Dion von Moltke are set to drive the No, 18 entry.

“I was here once before,” Muehlner said. “I attended the test last year preparing for this adventure. It was amazing coming here for the first time. Such a nice track and facility.”

Muehlner took delivery of his new car one day before the December test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He took it to that test, where Jorg Bergmeister shook it down, and has been hard at work ever since working on the suspension and setup.

“This has been a very good test,” Muehlner said. “We now have a setup that all three drivers are very happy with, and the car is very well balanced. I think we are there. Our lap times are not what they could be, but that is because every time we put on new tires, we get stuck in traffic. We are running the same lap times on used tires that other teams are doing with new tires.”
After two days, the team was 14th in GT testing, with a best lap of 1:51.433, set in Saturday night practice.
“I’m absolutely happy with all three drivers,” Muehlner said. “They have all done a very good job here. We have the perfect spirit on the team. Everyone is working in the same direction.”

source http://www.grand-am.com

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