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Grand-Am: AIM high.


For a team that merely wanted to get to the end of the Rolex 24 at Daytona for experience, AIM Autosport's debut performance in the blue riband Grand-Am event certainly belied its rookie status.

Lead driver Mark Wilkins combined with David Empringham, Brian and Burt Frisselle to take the #61 Riley-Lexus to a remarkable fifth-place finish, after escaping most of the problems that afflicted its more experienced rivals. Although the gold-and-black car started the race from 27th on the grid after a starter problem negated its 17th-place qualifying position, the drivers steadily worked through the field to feature in the top ten for more than 23 hours., leaving team owner Ian Willis admitting that he was 'speechless'.

"It's amazing!" Wilkins agreed, "AIM Autosport did a great job - [I've raced for] seven years with these guys, and it feels great to come out to a first 24 in a DP car and be in the top five.

"We stayed out of the garage, a testament to the hard work that the guys put in at the shop. It's really been a huge team effort and this just goes to show it. Hopefully, we can build on this great result and have a successful year."

Empringham is a Daytona Prototype, dating back to the category's first outing at Daytona, when he won the class alongside David Brabham and Scott Maxwell.

"I think we can be pretty proud of fifth place," he admitted, "For a first time here as a team, the car ran just unbelievably. The guys did a great job and we had a lot of good luck. In the 24th hour, the car felt the best it did all race - that's a good testament to the team."

The Brothers Frisselle will share driving duties alongside Wilkins this season, and Burt's reaction underlined just how excited both were to be part of the AIM operation.

"I can't say enough about how special this is for me," he said, echoing his brothers' sentiments, "AIM Autosport, the work they've done, the job they put into this car to get it ready, not having a programme last year in DP and being a start-up team in the series... coming in and claiming a top five proves that they know the business they're in.

"This is my best memory here at Daytona yet, and I hope there are many more in the future. I look forward to coming back next year so we can try to run for the Rolexes."


Related Pictures

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Max Angelelli / Jordan Taylor. GRAND-AM Championship Weekend Presented by BMW at Lime Rock Park. 2013 Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series
Max Angelelli / Jordan Taylor. Continental Tire Sports Car Festival. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. 2013 Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series
Action. VisitFlorida.com Sports Car 250 at Road America. Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series [Pic credit: Grand AM]
Starworks Motorsport BMW/Riley duo Brendon Hartley and Scott Mayer celebrate their first Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series victory at Road America [Pic credit: Grand AM]
Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drive the #10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the third race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drive the #10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype (left) to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the third race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Alex Gurney and Jo Fogarty, drivers of the #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP (right) finish in second place. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
John Edwards and Robin Liddell, drivers of the # 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R., race to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the Grand Touring (GT) class of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
Juan Pablo Montoya, Memo Rojas, Scott Pruett and Charlie Kimball, co-drivers of the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates TELMEX/Target Ford BMW Riley celebrate their win in victory lane at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 27, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Rolex Series action [Pic credit: Grand-Am]
Alex Popow and Sebastian Bourdais, drivers of the #2 Ford Riley, celebrate in Victory Lane after wininng the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Alex Popow and Sebastien Bourdais, drivers of the #2 Soloson Ford Riley, celebrate after winning the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The winning #60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Ford Riley car is brought into victory lane after a gruelling 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona. [Picture Credit: Daytona International Speedway]
Action Express win the Rolex 24 [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Derek Johnston [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Wilkins/Frisselle - AIM Autosport [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Vic Elford, the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona Grand Marshal (Photo credit: Motorsports Images and Archives)
The No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Porsche Coyote that will be tested by 2009 Radical European Masters Champion Derek Johnston at Virginia International Raceway
Max Angelelli and Brian Friselle win at Daytona [Pic credit: Grand Am Media]

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