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Sophomore jinx hits AIM.


AIM Autosport may not have made it to the finish of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, but the Toronto-based team certainly made a statement as it battled with the likes of Ganassi and Michael Shank Racing at the front of the field.

The black-and-gold Riley-Ford enjoyed an outstanding opening to the 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series before a run of bad luck ultimately forced the team to park up and begin preparations for the rest of the season. All four drivers - Mark Wilkins, Brian Frisselle, Andrew Ranger and Colin Braun - led the race at different stages, and the decision to move to Ford power for 2008 proved to be prescient, as the team led nearly 40 of the 448 laps it completed over 16 hours.

“Last year, we were very conservative and worked our way up and were eventually fifth at the end,” said team owner Ian Willis, “We had good luck last year, but it certainly didn't go our way tonight.

"We had a number of issues that put us about 26 laps behind at some point and, when the tyre let go,..... The car is repairable and we could probably have got it back out on track in a couple of hours but, when you're that far back, sometimes you just have to cut your losses.

"But this was a good kick-off to the season as far as pace was concerned, and we know we had a podium-calibre car and driver line-up today. Andrew did an amazing job to keep it off the wall when we had the tyre problem, and we're working with Pirelli to evaluate the cause.”

Despite a worrying fuel pressure problem, the plan set by Willis and the crew was going exactly as hoped for until the combination of rain, oil and track debris in the Bus Stop sent Wilkins off-course and behind the wall for repairs. Despite a lot of hard work getting the car back on track, the effort suffered another setback when Frisselle was forced off the road in turn three - and was then penalised for passing slower GT traffic before the line on the subsequent restart. The final blow came just before the sun was set to rise, when Ranger had a tyre go down and smash the rear bodywork. The damage proved to be significant enough to force the team to park the car for the day.

Despite the disappointment, however, Willis managed to find positives for the rest of the campaign.

“Ford Racing gave us a great motor and, even though we had the fuel pressure issues, it turned out to just be a bad fuel filter, and we were still able to be really quick,” Willis continued, “I think that's a testament to how strong a motor the Roush Yates is. This is a disappointing result, but if we step back, I think the weekend gives us a lot of confidence about the rest of the season.”


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Wilkins/Braun/Frisselle/Ranger - AIM Autosport Riley-Ford   [pic credit: grand-am.com]
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

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