Monday, January 28, 2013

CHEVY GRAND-AM AT ROLEX 24: Three Corvette DP Drivers Qualified in Top-10 to Set Starting Field for 51st Running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona

Daytona Beach, FL (January 24, 2013) – Richard Westbrook led the Corvette Daytona Prototype (DP) entries in qualifying for the 51st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The Englishman, who won the first-ever race for the Corvette DP, put the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP in the fifth starting position for the legendary race that begins Saturday at 3:30 p.m. E.T.
Additionally, Alex Gurney qualified the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing “Red Dragon” Corvette DP in the eighth starting position, and Stephane Sarrazin was ninth in the final order behind the wheel of the No. 3 8 Star Motorsports Corvette DP.

The remaining Corvette DPs qualified as follows: Christian Fittipaldi, No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP – 11th; Max Angelelli, No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP – 12th and Joao Barbosa, No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP – 13th.

In the Grand Touring (GT) class for the GRAND-AM Rolex 24, Robin Liddell qualified the No. 57 Stevenson Camaro GT.R in eighth position in-class. The No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette, qualified by Eric Curran, will start 23rd in-class.

Matt Bell, No. 9 Stevenson Camaro GS.R, led the Team Chevy contingent in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge with an eighth-place qualifying effort.

Other Camaro GS.R qualifying results for the BMW Performance 200 2.5-hour race on Friday afternoon beginning at 1:45 p.m. E.T. were: Bob Michaelian, No. 00 CKS Autosport Camaro GS.R – 22nd; Lawrence Davey, No. 6 Mitchum Motorsports Camaro GS.R – 23rd and Eric Curran, No. 01 CKS Autosport Camaro GS.R – 24th.

Scott Pruett (BMW) won the pole for the Rolex 24. Nick Tandy (Porsche) was the fastest GT qualifier, and Jade Buford (Aston Martin) won the pole for the BMW Performance 200.
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“It’s a 24 hour race so qualifying is not as important as it normally is. The car felt really good. We are no match for the BMW’s at the moment, but I think we will be a lot closer in the race. It’s nice to be the first Corvette and it’s just good to start a 24 hour race at the right end. We didn’t really know where we were going to be after practice, but really happy. Really happy for our new sponsor and to be the first Chevy is good.”
HOW HARD IS IT TO GET YOUR CAR SET-UP FOR A 12-TURN ROAD COURSE LIKE THIS?“The main problem is getting it set up for a 24 hour race because you need a car that is good over a distance not just for one lap. That is why qualifying you shouldn’t really take too much notice of the positions because it doesn’t necessarily mean that is the race is going to pan out. We are pretty confident.”

“Well it’s never easy qualifying here at Daytona in this car. At the end of the day we kind of set the car up very heavily towards the race. When we put new tires on we typically struggle with a lot of understeer in the infield. We are quite a long wheel based car, so we struggle with getting the car rotated and powered down. But then the car is very good in the fast section through the bus stop and through the kink on the infield, so we made some time up there and braking into (turn) one. Overall the car felt pretty good. It was pretty much what we expected. Not the fastest car for a qualifying situation, but over the race distance it’s pretty much what we are looking for. I was quite fortunate to get a good tow, a good draft, so I was able to pick up a few spots. I think without the tow we probably wouldn’t have been where we are. I think we are happy because at the end of the day there are a few cars behind us that probably on our right pace should be ahead of us. Right now we are happy, but obviously going into the race the car I think we are in good shape for the 24 Hours we have a good reliable car, a good crew, good teammates, nobody is slow to put in the car. I think in the end that will all play to us over the course of the race.”

“Well…short (laughs). I think considering our car is pretty much new from the driver’s seat forward, the car was really close to what we need. Maybe not for qualifying, but for the race, we are probably not going to do a lot of changes to it. It was a little bit pushy in certain places. I never really got loose so it’s stable and that is kind of what you want in a race car for an endurance race. I think we are in a pretty good position. We would have liked to have used this session a little bit more for some tuning and tweaking because we haven’t had too many laps in the car. Again, considering what the car has been through and what the team has been through, they really nailed it on set up. Kind of a shot in the dark, but they got it right.”
IS THIS A REALLY TOUGH TRACK TO GET THE CAR WHERE YOU WANT IT ALL THE WAY AROUND IT?“It is a pretty difficult track. It’s a complex place. There is an oval, not a lot of people tune for the oval here, but there are still a lot of high speed sections. The high speed bus stops, high speed braking, high speed into turn one that goes down to a very slow corner. There are the two horseshoes that are very low minimum speed so it can be tricky. Our Camaro is usually very good in the infield. We are a little bit off there we are going to nail it tomorrow I’m sure. That is our cars kind of high point is braking for the infield and pretty much the whole infield. The problem is these newer cars; especially the European imports are just so fast in a straight line that we really have a hard time. It’s a lot easier to make passes with your foot pinned to the floor than it is to try to dive bomb into the bus stop or into turn one. It’s complicated to set up the car, but I think we are pretty close.”

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