Grand-Am Rolex 24 Practice Wraps Up At Daytona

The No. 10 SunTrust Corvette piloted by Ricky Taylor, Max Angelelli and Ryan Briscoe led Daytona Prototype practice on the final day of the Roar Before The Rolex 24 practice at Daytona International Speedway with a lap at 126.712 mph. Photo courtesy Grand-AM

The buildup for the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona continued Sunday with the conclusion of the Roar Before the Rolex 24, a three-day test at Daytona International Speedway.

Competitors in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge enjoyed ideal weather conditions throughout the Roar, with Sunday’s sessions running incident-free. Teams now have until Thursday, Jan. 26, to fine tune for the 2012 season opener.

Max Angelelli ran the fastest lap of the three-day session on Sunday morning with a lap of 126.712 mph in the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette DP co-driven by Ricky Taylor and Ryan Briscoe. The new Corvette DPs took the top five places at the test, with the two Action Express cars following the SunTrust team.

Ferrari came away with the quickest laps in the GT sessions. Guy Cosmo led Sunday’s testing with a lap of 117.216 mph in the No. 03 Patron Tequila Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am. Toni Villander led the class at the test, running 117.321 mph on Saturday in the No. 63 Risi Competizione entry.

Billy Johnson turned the fastest lap of the weekend in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport (GS) class on Sunday with a lap of 1:56.984 (109.533 mph) in the No. 61 Roush Performance Ford Mustang. Charles Espenlaub turned the second quickest lap of the day in the No. 48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 (109.289 mph), followed by Bill Auberlen in the Turner Motorsport BMW M3 (109.187). All three times were posted in the Sunday’s morning session.

Jeff Mosing was fastest in Street Tuner, turning in a lap of 2:06.959 (100.945 mph) in the No. 56 RACE EPIC/Murillo Racing BMW 328i also in Sunday’s morning session. Cory Friedman, of Autometrics Motorsports, and BimmerWorld Racing’s Seth Thomas rounded out the top three with laps turned in the weekend’s first two days.

The 2012 Rolex Series season opens with the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Jan. 28-29.

News And Notes

-A total of 117 cars participated in the three-day Roar. Joining the 14 Daytona Prototypes in the Rolex Series were 46 cars from the GT class. The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge had a total of 57 cars, 35 in Grand Sport and 22 in Street Tuner. Additional cars are anticipated for the Rolex 24 weekend.

-Spirit of Daytona had the second gear break in its new No. 90 Corvette DP early in Sunday morning’s session. The team replaced the gears and put the car back on track, only to discover that there was a crack in the casing that led to an oil leak, putting the car out for the remainder of the session.

-Action Express Racing faces a triple learning curve for the 2012 Rolex 24. In addition to the new Corvette DP bodywork, the 2010 Rolex 24-winning team also has a new engine (Earnhardt Childress Racing Chevrolet) and a new chassis (Coyote). Team director of team operations Elton Sawyer said the biggest challenge at the Roar has been working with brake temperatures.

-APR Motorsport brought four different cars to the Roar – in three different classes. The team is debuting in the Rolex Series with the No. 51 Audi R8 GRAND-AM. The team also runs the No. 41 Audi S4 in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport class, and has two cars in Street Tuner, the proven No. 171 Volkswagen GTI and the new No. 181 VW Jetta GLI. The Alabama-based team is looking to bring seven cars to the Rolex 24 weekend, including six for the GRAND-AM 200 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge opener.

-Bill Lester has been added to the lineup of the No. 18 Muehlner Motorsports Porsche GT3 for the Roar and the Rolex 24. Lester, a former regular in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, made GRAND-AM history in 2011 by becoming the first African-American competitor to win a Rolex Series race. Co-driving with Ricky Taylor, he won at Virginia International Raceway in the No. 88 Autohaus Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro and finished second in the GT championship, losing by only two points.

-Sarah Cattaneo tested in her new ride with Mitchum Motorsports. She drove in both of the team’s No. 60 and 62 Lucas Oil/Makita Power Tools BMW 328i. Cattaneo won at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 2011 and finished fourth in the Street Tuner championship.

-Aaron Steele had his first test in the U.S., sharing the No. 6 Mitchum Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro with Tim Bell. The British driver won the first Sunoco GRAND-AM 200 Challenge, outpointing drivers in six European series to earn a ride in the 2012 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series opener, a contest that mirrors the Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge for the Rolex Series.

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