Cautiously Confident, Corsa Team PR1 Heads to Daytona

Jan. 22, 2010

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FRESNO, Calif. – Immediately after the checkered flag flew on the 2009 Rolex 24 at Daytona, and the PR1 Motorsports entry finished just outside the top ten in their first attempt, the team made plans for 2010. The crew packed up, the drivers and engineers submitted their race reports, and after an intensive review period, a new strategy was formed.

That strategy included a new car in the form of the No. 32 Corsa Team PR1 BMW M6, a Pratt & Miller tube frame car powered by a V8 engine tested and tuned by Dinan Performance. A driver lineup was established that consists of several team veterans including Max Hyatt of San Jose, CA, Thomas Merrill of Salinas, CA, Jeff Westphal of San Carlos, CA, and 24 Hours at Daytona veteran, Rob Finlay of Peterborough, NH.

After a few near podium finishes with the new BMW at the end of the 2009 season, the team returned to Daytona for the December test days and unofficially set the fastest time during the test. Confident with their base setup and on and off-track progression, team management made the tactical decision to test privately at Buttonwillow Raceway Park near the team’s California based headquarters instead of returning to Daytona for the Roar Before the 24 official test.

Uninhibited by media and competitive distractions, Corsa Team PR1 went about its private test working through a highly regimented program to ensure that there would be no surprises during the 24 hour endurance classic. The driver’s learned the BMW’s twilight and nighttime nuances, the crew perfected their pit stop performances, and the engineers gathered enough data to optimize the car’s performance for Daytona.

Hyatt, who currently has the most experience behind the wheel of the BMW, is the only Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona newcomer in the lineup.

“I’m so excited about this race, I can hardly keep my mind focused on anything else,” Hyatt said. “I’m getting a lot of rest in between my personal trainings sessions because I know there won’t be much time for that once the event gets started. I think keys for the race for me will be to keep it clean, get some consistent times, and keep the car on the lead lap. This is my first 24 hour race, so I haven’t yet experienced what it’ll be like to drive in the early morning hours, but I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble. There’ll be a lot of adrenaline to keep me focused.”

Merrill, along with Westphal, finished eleventh in the GT class for PR1 Motorsports in the 2009 event.
“Mentally, I’m really excited to get back on the track,” Merrill said. “In 2009, it was all about learning for all of us. We learned how long stints should be, how to rest, and what to eat. So we’re applying the leasons we learned to make sure we’ll be in an optimal position for the final laps this year. I think we have a great car. I love the aero improvements that will help our top speed as Daytona is about 80% straight line speed. The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona is such a great race with so many of the world’s top drivers. It’s a great event to really measure how you stack up against the best.”

Westphal, who drove the Pontiac GXP in 2009, is excited about the M6′s performance at Daytona.
“One thing I’m looking forward to is the power delivery the BMW has,” Westphal said. “It has a broad torque band and it really comes on power. I think it’ll really help with the straight line speed, which is crucial for Daytona’s layout. We won’t have to drive flat out through the infield to make up for any weaknesses on the straights, which will be great for both the drivers and the equipment. I underestimated how grueling this event is last year. There’s always this nervous energy that stays with you and makes it very difficult to relax between your stints. We’re all much more aware of that this year, so that’s one thing that we can improve on that I think will make a big difference.”

A veteran Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona competitor, Finlay will be making his first appearance in the GT class with the No. 32.

“I’m very excited to be driving in the GT class this year,” Finlay said. “After competing in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge in a BMW M3, I felt that it would be an interesting opportunity to try out the larger M6. I’ve had a lot of fun in Rolex 24 Hour racing in Daytona Prototypes , and I’ve had a great time in the BMW’s in Continental, so I see this year’s race as the perfect opportunity to blend those two experiences together while trying something all new. As long as we stay ahead of the weather, and drive smooth, consistent laps, I feel that we have a great shot at a top finish this year.”

Team owner Bobby Oergel knows that his team is ready for their second twice around the clock event at Daytona.

“Compared to 2009, everyone now knows more of what to expect,” Oergel said. “This year we have two drivers that raced in the 24 with us last year, Max has been with the team for several years, and Rob has a lot of experience with this event, so there’s no concerns in our lineup. We’ve also laid out a program that will make sure the drivers and the crew don’t wear themselves out before the race even starts. We really want to make it one step better this year, so everyone is getting on with what’s needed, not going over the top, and just making sure that we don’t beat ourselves. The boys have done a tremendous job getting the car ready and the truck leaves for Daytona on Saturday morning. I know that Rob, Max, Jeff, and Thomas will do a good job for us as always and the Dinan and BMW package is working great together. We are looking really good, it should be a lot of fun.”

Drivers and partners interested in the Corsa Team PR1 Rolex Series BMW M6 program can contact the team directly at pr1motorsports@aol.com or at (559) 277-1300.

The 2010 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 will begin with the Rolex 24 at Daytona at the Daytona International Speedway on January 30-31, 2010.

Corsa Car Care manufactures professional grade automotive detailing products including cleaners, polishes and protective sealants for exterior finishes, interior leathers & textiles, glass, vinyl and rubber applications. As a division of Miracle Sealants Company, Corsa Car Care draws on over 25 years of knowledge and experience in advanced polymer chemistry. For more details, visit corsacarcare.com.

In paddocks packed with excellent teams and quality drivers, Corsa Team PR1 has established itself as one of the sports top driver development programs. Based in Fresno, CA, Corsa Team PR1 occupies an expansive facility housing a stable of F2000 Zetec and Grand Am Rolex Series race cars. Team drivers enjoy the benefits of a completely professional program including engineering support, state-of-the art data acquisition, and a race winning experienced crew. Corsa Team PR1 drivers, and partners, enjoy first-class trackside hospitality and comprehensive marketing support.

Founded in 1979, Dinan develops, manufactures and markets a comprehensive line of high performance products and systems, distributed through a nationwide network of Authorized Dinan BMW Performance Centers that includes select BMW Dealerships and Independent BMW Service/High Performance facilities.

For more information please contact Eric Wildt at (707) 480-7350 or eric@motorsportscg.com
Corsa Team PR1 team information can be found at www.PR1motorsports.com; maxhyattracing.com; jeffwestphalracing.com; thomasmerrillmotorsports.com; or finlaymotorsports.com

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