Penske Racing returned to Daytona International Speedway with a new car and a crew new to the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series this week during the October Test Days in preparation for the 2009 Rolex 24.
The squad, which did the 24-hour classic for the first time in 35-years back in January, unloaded a brand new Riley, powered by a Porsche flat-6 engine, which it hopes will allow it to come away with a victory on the 40th anniversary of its 1969 Daytona triumph.
Romain Dumas, a four-time participant in the Rolex 24, was the team's lone driver throughout the three-day session. Patrick Long was at the test but did not drive.
"None of these guys worked on last year's 24-hour car," said John Erickson, general manager of Penske Racing's road racing team. "Last year we did all that with the IRL guys, and for this test, we're using guys who were with the ALMS car."
Penske Racing's involvement with the event now known as the Rolex 24 At Daytona dates back to the inaugural Daytona Continental in 1962, when team owner and founder Roger Penske raced a Cooper-Climax T-61 Monaco.
The following year, Penske finished second overall behind Pedro Rodriguez. The 2009 Rolex 24 marks the 40th anniversary of Penske's victory in the event, with Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons winning in 1969 in a Chevy-powered Lola T-70. Prior to January, it last raced here in 1973.
"The 24 Hour race at Daytona is very important," Dumas added. "I had the chance to win twice in the 24 hour races at Nurburgring (Germany, 2007, 2008) and Spa (Belgium, 2003, 2004) already in Europe, but this is the only 24-race in America. I hope to have a good result this year, for sure. It's the best team here and we are new, but we want to do well."
Dumas raced in the Rolex 24 four times, finishing on the GT podium on two occasions. He was part of the TRG team that finished 11th overall and third in GT last January, co-driving with Spencer Pumpelly, Tim George Jr., Bryan Sellers and Emmanuel Collard in the No. 67 Porsche GT3. He also finished 10th overall and third in GT in 2002, running a Porsche 996 for Freisinger Racing with Ni Amorim, Stephane Ortelli and Hans Fertl.
He also raced a Daytona Prototype in the Rolex 24 twice. In 2007, he finished 18th overall and 12th in class in Alex Job Racing's No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Porsche Crawford, and was part of the No. 59 Brumos Racing line-up in 2005.
"The Daytona Prototype is completely different from the P2 car," Dumas continued. "Overall, it's quite nice. I'm surprised. It has less downforce and less grip, but we have good power and it's cool to drive. Concerning the chassis, it's our first test so we have to continue to work on it."