Rolex Series Testing: Updates

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 is holding its final scheduled activity of 2010, a two-day open test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Wednesday and Thursday.
Testing is scheduled in groups from 9:10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Wednesday and 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Lally, von Moltke Lead GT for TRG (Updated Wednesday at 5:50 p.m.)

TRG was 1-2 on the final combined GT testing chart for the day, with Andy Lally in the No. 67 Rolex Cup car followed by Dion von Moltke, having his first test with the team in the No. 63.

“What a great day for TRG,” said team owner Kevin Buckler. “We have four cars and eight drivers, and had a stellar day. It’s great to be back running with GRAND-AM. Dion had some fast laps and did a great job in his first time testing with us. Young guys always know they will be in good equipment when they run with us so they can show their stuff.”

Lally was making his first run in the new Porsche, which was unveiled this week. It was one of four 911 GT3 Rolex Cup cars at the session, with others fielded by Magnus, Brumos and Muhner Motorsport.

“I thought the transition from last year’s car to the new Porsche was pretty easy,” Lally said. “It’s a similar car. We’ve been concentrating on the new tire and a new shock setup we’ve been playing with. It also gave Steve Bertheau his first laps at Homestead, and we’ve been working with him to get him familiar with the new track and the newe tire.”

Von Moltke was happy to run with TRG for the first time.

“This is the 2009 Porsche with upgrades,” said von Moltke, who is exploring opportunities for next season. “TRG is a great team and they’ve proven themselves. It’s nice to drive for Kevin Buckler here. I had several other opportunities today, but I focused on the Porsche to make it fast.”

Gidley Quick With Team Sahlen (Updated Wednesday at 5:45 p.m.)
Memo Gidley, set to run with Team Sahlen fulltime in 2011 in the No. 42 Mazda RX-8 with Wayne Nonnamaker, was unofficially second quickest in GT in the final session on Wednesday.

“It’s pretty promising,” Gidley said. “It’s always nice to get to the top of the charts. Everyone is working real hard, and it’s nice for them to see the results. We’re happy with it. There are many transitions with the team – a lot of new people and equipment. Testing time is very limited, and it’s our best chance to work together to get the team to gel.”

GAINSCO Testing With Eye on Rolex 24 (Updated Wednesday at 4:20 p.m.)
GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is approaching this week’s test with an eye on preparing for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

“Homestead-Miami Speedway is a very difficult place for tires,” driver Jon Fogarty said. “We didn’t come here with the expectation we were going to learn a ton on setups. We’re here to work on fundamental stuff that will help us in the Rolex 24 – cooling systems, braking, things like that.

“We’re looking forward to racing with Jimmie Johnson in the Rolex 24,” Fogarty added. “We’re always happy to have him on board. We’re looking to prepare a trouble-free car so we can give him his best chance to win a Rolex.”

Donohue, Law Going Through Transition (Updated Wednesday at 4 p.m.)
Seeing a different Brumos No. 59 in the paddock came as a bit of a shock for David Donohue on Tuesday afternoon.

Donohue has raced the No. 59 Brumos Porsche at the debut of the Daytona Prototypes in the 2003 Rolex 24 At Daytona, and was with the team through the end of the current season. He was joined by Darren Law at the No. 59 in 2004. Together, they won the Rolex 24 for Brumos in 2009, driving the No. 58 Porsche/Riley.
Next season, they will co-drive the No. 5 Porsche/RIley for Action Express Racing, while Brumos continues to race the No. 59 with a new 911 GT3 Rolex Cup in the GT division.

“It was a big honor to be part of Brumos,” Donohue said. “That was a legendary flag to carry, and I will miss that.”

Now, they are transitioning to a new Porsche engine, going to the Cayenne-based V-8 that powered Action Express to victory in the 2010 Rolex 24.

“David and I have been racing the Porsche Flat 6 since 2004 – David since 2003 – and going to the V-8 is a huge change,” Law said. “It’s quite a bit different to drive. It requires a different driving style. We now have five gears instead of six. It has a different torque band, and there is a lot of different with the RPMs and how you drive through traffic. We’ve made the adjustment very quickly, it’s just very different to drive.”

Law is happy with the changes on Action Express, especially bring aboard Elton Sawyer as director of race operations.

“Elton is a huge plus for the team,” Law said of the former NASCAR Nationwide Series regular. “He brings experience from both the driving and management sides. It’s a huge change since he’s come on board. I know he’s going to be very good for the team.”

Law has been busy nearly every weekend since the Salt Lake City finale in September, testing, coaching and giving talks with Donohue.

“It’s been non-stop for both David and I,” Law said.
Stanton: ‘Just Like a Race Weekend’ (Updated Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.)
Magnus Motorsports has a brand-new Porsche 911 GT3 Rolex Cup, and drivers John Potter and Craig Stanton are making the transition. Stanton is happy to take out the car in an open session.

“It’s great to drive a brand-new Porsche,” Stanton said. “There’s nothing like it. I’m happy to be running with all the competitors here, just like a race weekend. It’s nice to do private testing, but having everyone here is very important to us. It’s an apples to apples comparison.”

Magnus is entering its second series of Rolex Series competition, and was the top Porsche team in 2010.

“It’s a little bit different,” Potter said. “The new car has a little bit more downforce. It’s gtreat to sort it out, We in it again for the full season. it’s great working with the Porsche people and we’re looking forward to continuing our relationship this season.
Dempsey Happy With New Mazda (Updated Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.)

Patrick Dempsey made his first on-track appearance at a Rolex Series event since the April race at Virginia International Raceway, taking a few laps in the new Dempsey Racing No. 40 Mazda RX-8.

“The new car feels great,” Dempsey said. “It’s not as violent as the old car. It’s quieter with the different exhaust setup, and a lot stronger. I’m happy with it.”
Dempsey was also happy to be back in the GRAND-AM paddock.
“It’s great to be back and see everybody,” he said. “I feel no pressure. I can get in the car and enjoy myself.”

For 2011, Dempsey hopes to run as many races as his schedule allows, including the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

“We had a good run at Daytona last year,” said Dempsey, who had a personal career best sixth-place finish in last year’s classic. “Our team is gelling. We won a race last year, but we’ve got a lot of work ahead for this season.”

Tucker At Home With Paddle Shifters (Updated Wednesday at 2:15 p.m.)
While he has been away from the Rolex Series Daytona Prototype since March, Scott Tucker quickly got back to speed in the No. 55 Level 5 Motorsports/Daytona Dream BMW/Riley.

“We came out pretty quick,” said Tucker, who captured his second consecutive SCCA National Championship in addition to the ALMS LMPC title in 2010. He is concentrating on the team’s No. 55 today, while Christophe Bouchut and Luis Diaz are sharing the No. 95. Tomorrow, they will switch cars.

“The No. 55 has the new paddle shifter,” said Tucker, who is testing the new option teams using a Pro-Am driver can use in 2011. “I like it. It feels much better, and it will be quicker for me. While I never raced the DP with paddle shift before, almost all of the other cars and karts I have raced have had paddle shift. So it’s natural for me.”
Marsh Racing May Skip Rolex 24 (Updated Wednesday at 12:45 p.m.)

Eric Curran is testing the No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette throughout the opening session, and will be joined by Boris Said for tomorrow’s activity. Sonny Whelen will not be able to attend the test.

Team owner Teddy Marsh said that the team is still building the new Corvette it will race in 2011, and is expecting to enter Rolex Series competition for Round 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He plans to run Curran and Said in all of the remaining races.

Muhlner Motorsport Brings Brand-New Porsche to Homestead (Updated Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.)
Muhlner Motorsport had no plans to test this week at Homestead – they had yet to receive their new Porsche 911 GT3 Rolex Cup from PMNA.
Their plans changed in a hurry, though.

“We just found out that our new car was ready,” said Bernhard Muhlner, managing director of Muhlner Motorsport. “We picked it up yesterday in Atlanta, and here we are today in Homestead.”

Jorg Bergmeister – a occasional driver with the team – will shake the car (which will carry No. 18) later today.

“We plan to run in the Rolex 24, and hopefully more races,” Muhlner said.
While this will be their first attempt at the Rolex 24, the team is no stranger to long-distance competition.

“We have run in 33 24-hour races world-wide,” Muhlner said. “Hopefully, Daytona will be our 35th. We will run the 24 hour race at Dubai in January.”

The team won the 24 hour race at Spa in 2010. Tim Bergmeister – older brother of the 2006 Daytona Prototype champion – has raced with the team since 2006, primarily in FIA GT3 and the German ADAC GT Masters series, winning the championship in 2008.
Dyson Racing Set For Proper Testing (Updated Wednesday at 10 a.m.)

Dyson Racing debuted the No. 16 Ford/Lola for the 2010 season finale as its first step to prepare for the 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

“We took a brand-new car that the team had for only five days, and went to Salt Lake City with the intention of getting ready for Daytona,” said co-driver John McCutchen. We wanted to go to Miller to get the car through tech, meet with the GRAND-AM officials, and give the team the chance to run a race under the Rolex Series rules and learn any areas that differ from the ALMS rules they were used to running. Plus, it was a good opportunity for Davy (Jones) and I to get seat time in an unfamiliar environment.”

“The DP teams has been fine-tuning their cars for seven or eight years,” Jones said. “We’ve had a relatively short window. We went to Salt Lake throwing darts at the setup. Our goal for this test is to come away wiht a comfortable mindset and have a good direction of what we need to do to make the car competitive.”

Jones and McCutchen will be joined by Dyson Racing principal Rob Dyson at the test, and may be joined by team VP and sporting director Chris Dyson behind the wheel.


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