World Series by Renault regular James Walker is heading stateside after Christmas to get his first taste of a completely different kind of racing as he competes in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The Jerseyman will race a GT class Porsche alongside manager - and Porsche specialist - Tim Sugden, factory driver Patrick Pilet, team owner Jim Lowe and the American's regular co-driver Jim Pace, as he makes his 24-hour race debut. He will get a first feel for both the Porsche and the famed Daytona 'roval' when he takes part in the three-day 'Roar before the 24' test in early January, before return to Florida for the race, which opens the new Grand-Am Rolex Series season on 30 January.
“I'm really looking forward to racing in America for the first time,” said Walker, who admits that, after Daytona, the next stop could be the Le Mans 24 Hours, "It's even better that my first ever 24-hour race is going to be at Daytona, racing with people like ex-F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya and current NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. It was a chance that I just couldn't turn down. I'll have to make the most of the test to make sure I've got to grips with a car that's totally different to what I'm used to, but I can't wait!”
Sugden, meanwhile, has raced at Daytona before, and knows what is in store for his young charge, but believes that Walker will make the transition from single-seater to GT sportscar.
“It will be great to race with James, especially when you consider it was me who taught him to drive!” he said, "Endurance racing is a new challenge. The biggest thing he will have to learn to cope with is the different speeds of the cars in different classes. There won't be a single lap where you are not overtaking or being overtaken yourself, so you have to keep a constant eye on your mirrors.
"One of the hardest things to learn is to relax. You have to go off for short sleeps during the 24 hours but, with all that adrenalin pumping around your body, it can be hard to switch off. Racing at night will also be a new experience, so it's going to be a baptism of fire, but James is going to love every minute of it.”