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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 7, 2012) – As Day Two of the intense testing sessions of the Grand-Am Roar Before the Rolex 24 came to an end, the Corvette DP continued to shine on-track; both in the sun and under the lights. Team Chevy in the Rolex Sports Car Series practiced both during the day as well as a night practice in preparation for the 50th running of the Rolex 24-Hour at Daytona. The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge spent two sessions on-track.
The Corvette DP swept the top four places in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype class, led by a lap of 1:41.338 (126.468 mph) by the No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP co-driven by Darren Law, David Donohue and Christian Fittipaldi. Second in the order was the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette DP co-driven by Max Angelelli, Ricky Taylor and Ryan Briscoe that ran 1:41:403 (126.387 mph) followed by the No. 9 Action Express Corvette DP shared by Joao Barbosa, JC France, Terry Borcheller and Max Papis with a lap of 1:41:475 (126.468 mph). Fourth fastest was the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP co-driven by Antonio Garcia, Richard Westbrook, Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen with a lap of 1:41:655 (126.073 mph).
Not far behind with fast lap of the day of 1:41:792 (125.904 mph) was the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP co-driven by Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Memo Gidley.
In the Rolex Sports Car Series Grand Touring (GT) class, the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R, co-driven by Robin Liddell, John Edwards and Ronnie Bremer, ended the day in second place in the combined results of the test sessions. The No. 88 Autohaus Camaro GT.R with co-drivers Jordan Taylor, Paul Edwards, Matthew Marsh and Tom Milner ended the day as 11th fastest. The No. 75 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R co-driven by Al Carter, Hugh Plumb, Matt Bell and Eric Curran, continued to gain positions on the speed chart as the day unfolded.
The Camaro GS.R teams participated in both sessions for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport class in preparation for the Grand-Am 200 which will run prior to the Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona. All of the Team Chevy Camaro GS.R teams, Mitchum Motorsports, Stevenson Motorsports and CKS Autosport, continued to make improvements in their performance that saw them working their way toward the top of the speed chart.
Testing will conclude Sunday for Team Chevy with two practice sessions for both the Rolex Sports Car Series and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
JIM LUTZ, GRAND-AM PROGRAM RACING, GM RACING: ON THE SECOND DAY OF TESTING AT DAYTONA: “The weather for testing was unbelievably fantastic today. We had no fog this morning and it was warm which is makes it unusually good, sunny weather. It gives the teams the necessary time to maximize their sessions.
“It was a full day for all teams in all classes; DP, GT and GS. They all logged a lot of test miles and worked on fine-tuning their packages. The night test for the Rolex Series for both the DP and GT, all of the Chevy teams were able to get all of their drivers through and practiced green flag pit stops and driver changes. Everything is still in one piece so it’s good.”
WHAT WILL THE TEAMS WORK ON TOMORROW, THE FINAL DAY OF THE ROAR BEFORE THE ROLEX 24? “Further refinement. We’ve got the cars more or less dialed in setup-wise. We’ll run some long stints simulating the race where you run continuous laps until the point where you need fuel and track how the car behaves during a full stint, about 20-25 laps. We will run all the drivers through. Check fuel mileage, check brake wear and things like that. It will really be the final opportunity for all the Chevrolet teams in preparation for the race weekend.”
RICKY TAYLOR, NO. 10 SUNTRUST CORVETTE DP: TWO DAYS OF TESTING IN THE BOOKS WITH A LOT OF SPEED, IS IT AS GOOD AS IT SEEMS? “Yes, I think we have found a good, solid car that we can race. So now it’s just about trying things and seeing what sticks and seeing what doesn’t in making it into a 24 Hour car. If we can just get to the end of this one this year, I think we will be in really good shape to race to the end.”
HOW MUCH PROGRESS HAVE YOU MADE WITH THE CORVETTE DP ON A SCALE OF ONE TO 10 FROM WHERE THE SUNTRUST CORVETTE DP WAS WHEN WE ARRIVED VERSUS WHERE IS IT AT THE END OF TODAY? “It unrolled pretty good so I would give it a nine right now. We really started at about a seven so we’ve improved but we’ve been tweaking and trying things. I think from the knowledge standpoint, we went from like a four to a 10. We’ve really figured out the car and understand what we can do and what we can’t do.”
WHAT IS THE APPROACH ON THE FINAL DAY OF THE TEST TOMORROW? “I think tomorrow be will prepping the 24 Hour car. We have a lot of things to break-in. Tomorrow is kind of a boring day for the drivers, but in the morning we will probably experiment with some more things that Brian ( ) has up his sleeves and see what happens.”
ALEX GURNEY, NO. 99 GAINSCO/BOB STALLINGS RACING CORVETTE DP: “It’s definitely encouraging. It kind of feels like the best start we have had in a long time. There is a lot of ground to cover with this car. We are throwing the old book out, six years of stuff with the old Riley, and trying to relearn everything in a really short period of time is pretty tough. We are going through all kinds of changes, through all different ride heights and things like that, to try and find the sweet spot. We are getting there.”
JON FOGARTY, NO. 99 GAINSCO/BOB STALLINGS RACING CORVETTE DP: “We’re definitely still exploring, seeing what we can get away with on the car that will allow us to run quickly and safely. There’s a lot going on and these three days at Daytona are going to be helpful, but I don’t expect to have the package sorted out anytime soon. I think everybody with a new car is in the same boat, but we are doing a good job. The team is doing a great job sorting through all these nuances. We’ve managed to create a more stable platform that gives us a more consistent aero balance around the entirety of the race track. I’m confident that we’re going to keep improving on it, and I’m really happy with the progress we’ve made so far.”
MEMO GIDLEY, NO. 99 GAINSCO/BOB STALLINGS RACING CORVETTE DP: “I think that right now, we have a pretty drivable race car, for sure for the race. It actually seems reasonably fast also, but I think finding the aero balance of this new package is still a bit of a challenge. I think we still haven’t quite gotten to that happy spot there in that area, but we are working at it every session. For sure, the biggest difference is that with this car and this team, which is a big part of it, is that the lap times are faster than I’ve ever gone. I’m the same driver and I’m the same guy. I have seen it throughout my career, you are pounding around struggling at the mid or back part of the grid and you just get into a team with the exactly the same car or similar car and all of a sudden, you are at the front. For me, that’s been the most eye-opening part of this experience and also the most gratifying.”
DAVID DONOHUE, NO. 5 ACTION EXPRESS CORVETTE DP: HOW IS THE TEST GOING AND THE NEW CORVETTE PERFORMING? “So far this test at Daytona is going fantastic for Action Express. The team is really faced with a unique challenge compared to everyone else in the (Rolex Sports Car) Series because we’ve got a new chassis and a new engine and of course the bodywork with the new Corvette. They have really risen to the challenge. We’ve been P1 and P2 the last couple of sessions. The car is coming along. I think for us the balance is sort of staying the same on the technical side. We seem to be finding a little bit of time here and there. Really our eye is on the big game in a couple of weeks. It’s nice to have speed but there is a big poker game being played here right now. We’re being the reference. But, we don’t know what that reference is for absolute speed or reference of what people want to show. So we are just doing our own job and seeing what we can get out of the new Corvette and so far we are really pleased.”
WHAT IS YOUR CONFIDENCE AS FAR AS DURABILITY-WISE FOR A LONG, GRUELING RACE? “We like to think the car is up to the challenge. But again, everything is so new to us, we really don’t know what to expect as far as some sort of problem. The older car which we had a lot more time with…because we had so much more time with, we knew where to look. Where with a new car, new engine, new everything, we aren’t really sure where to look because the packaging, the engine in the chassis, which leads to different issues compared to the other chassis and engines. So it’s not all apples to apples when it comes to durability even though a lot of people have the same components in their cars. But again, I think our team is up to the challenge. If anyone can do it, our guys can.”
TERRY BORCHELLER, NO. 9 ACTION EXPRESS CORVETTE DP: HOW IS THE TEST GOING AND HOW IS THE NEW CORVETTE PERFORMING? “For us the test is going well. This has been probably the most improvement we’ve seen with the car and it’s been the most improvement we’ve had as a team. So, for us it is going very well and thank you Chevrolet for building us a new car!”
IS THE PERFORMANCE OF THE CORVETTE DAYTONA PROTOTYPE EVERYTHING YOU EXPECTED? “It is getting better all the time. We hope, I guess I had hoped, it would be a little quicker out of the box. We’ve had some challenges I think to say the least. But I think we are going to be able to overcome them and it is common with a new car. There are a lot of things you have to sort through. I have been down that particular road quite a bit and it’s always been the case. You are always seem to be able to make the car a little bit faster over a little bit of time. The better the piece is coming out of the box; the better off it’s going to be in the long room. You always hope it’s a world-beater out of the box. I think the car looks amazing and I think that is going to bring a lot of fans to Grand-Am and I think it’s going to do a lot for the Chevrolet brand. And hopefully we can just keep making it faster.”
JOAO BARBOSA, NO. 9 ACTION EXPRESS RACING CORVETTE DP: TALK ABOUT HOW THE TEST IS GOING AND HOW THE CORVETTE DAYTONA PROTOTYPE IS DOING? “So far the Corvette is doing really well. We’ve been learning a lot about the car. Everything that is involved with the Corvette. Everything is brand new for us so it is a steep learning curve for us just to get ready for the 24 Hour race. But, so far, we’re pretty happy with the development we’ve done and the car is reacting really well around here at Daytona. So, we are just looking forward to the race.”
DO YOU THINK PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED TO SEE ALL THE CORVETTES AT THE TOP OF THE SPEED CHARTS? “I don’t know, we will just have to wait and see. These couple of days are just test days. Everybody is on their own program. We know what we are doing; we don’t know what everyone else is doing. We are pretty confident that the Corvette is going to be a pretty strong car during the race. And we are working hard to achieve that.”
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 90 SPIRIT OF DAYTONA CORVETTE DP: HOW IS THE TEST GOING SO FAR AND THE NEW CORVETTE DAYTONA PROTOTYPE IN THIS TEST? “I think it is going pretty well. This is the kind of test where you have to have as much information as you can get toward the race. It is basically the only time we have time enough to learn a lot and put different things together because when it comes to the race week, you don’t have enough time to cycle through all the drivers for the race. You don’t have time to setup the car so now is time to really learn everything we can and try way different setups. I think it is going pretty good. We have found a few packages that work and I think for the race we can put a full package together to have a good race.”
IS IT AS YOU EXPECTED? “I think so. It’s always difficult to gauge our performance because everybody is doing their own program so you don’t actually know how hard they are pushing or not compared to you. You need to focus on yourself, trying to make your car and fast and as comfortable as you can. When it comes to the race everybody will show how they have been working. So far we are in a good position.”
RICHARD WESTBROOK, NO. 90 SPIRIT OF DAYTONA CORVETTE DP: HOW IS THE TEST GOING AND THE NEW CORVETTE DAYTONA PROTOTYPE PERFORMING? “I had a couple of laps here yesterday and I’m about to get my first decent run. I’m going to do 45 minutes then Jan (Magnussen) is going to pop in and do 45; it will be his first run too. Very excited. I’ve been looking at the car for the last couple of days, I mean, obviously, it is so beautiful. I just can’t wait to drive it. Ollie (Oliver Gavin) and Tony (Antonio Garcia) have been doing a lot of the setup work. So far, so good. We’ve been making a progress. Both drivers are all-in and are happy with the car. Still so work to do, just fine-tuning, but the basics seem to be good. We’re just doing all the things you need to do before a 24 Hour race. Just making sure when we come back for the 24, we’re ready to go.”
TIM BELL, NO. 6 MITCHUM MOTORSPORTS CAMARO GS.R: “Today went well testing the Mitchum No. 6 Chevrolet Camaro right out the box today was great. The track was cold this morning so I took it easy, but once we made some adjustments, we were running up with the front of the pack.”
AARON STEELE, NO. 6 MITCHUM MOTORSPORTS CAMARO GS.R: “My first taste of American Road Racing has been awesome, absolutely amazing! The Camaro is completely different to my F3 car but it’s great to drive and a fantastic car.”
JOEY ATTERBURY, NO. 62 MITCHUM MOTORSPORTS CAMARO GS.R: “It was great to get back behind the wheel of the Chevrolet Camaro GS.R for another year of racing in GRAND-AM. The Camaro is more developed than it has ever been and should provide a great car throughout the 2012 season.”
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