Grand AM » 07 November 2008
Big names set for Daytona test.
While many veteran Rolex Series teams will take the opportunity to test at Daytona next week, it will be the Penske Racing and Childress-Howard Motorsports entries that garner the most interest.
As preparations for the 47th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona get underway over 11-12 November, Penske Racing has confirmed that it will field a second Daytona Prototype at the test, while Childress-Howard Motorsports will run for the first time next week.
Penske, which participated in a three-day Daytona test in October, will return with the #5 Riley-Porsche to be driven by ALMS regulars Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard, but has added a #7 entry for 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch and three-time IndyCar racewinner Ryan Briscoe. The Childress-Howard partnership, meanwhile, will test with three-time Rolex 24 winner Andy Wallace, who will be joined by Rob Finlay in the #4 Crawford-Pontiac.
Also slated to appear at Daytona next week is Rolex Series newcomer Forsythe Racing, which will run the #16 Coyote-Pontiac for 2004 Rolex 24 winner Christian Fittipaldi and rising Italian star Alberto Costa.
Among the DP teams testing for the first time since the 2008 season finished will be Michael Shank Racing, which will run both of its Ford-powered Rileys, including the #6 with new signing Michael Valiante partnering MSR regular John Pew.
AIM Autosport, SunTrust Racing and Doran Racing are all expected to appear, while Krohn Racing and Brumos Porsche, which tested at Daytona in October, also return with two-car teams. English drivers Oliver Gavin and Darren Turner will join Krohn Racing for the test.
Orbit Racing, which tested a Daytona Prototype in October, will return with Kyle Petty, Darren Manning and Leo Hindery driving the #45 Riley-BMW, while Spirit of Daytona Racing expects to field five-time Daytona 200 motorcycle racewinner Scott Russell in its #09 Porsche-powered Coyote, alongside Guy Cosmo.
Alegra Motorsports, which won the GT class against the odds in the 2007 Rolex 24, moves up to the Daytona Prototype ranks with the #22 Riley-Porsche to be tested by Cristiano da Matta, Ryan Dalziel, Carlos de Quesada and Jean-Francois Dumoulin, while RVO Motorsports will test a pair of Pontiac-powered Rileys with drivers Bill Lester, Justin Bell, Tonis Kasemets and Roger Schramm at the wheel.
The top five GT teams from 2008 will also run at the test, with champions Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards, in the #07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R, and runners-up Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell, in the #57 Stevenson Motorsports entry, leading the way. A third Pontiac will be action courtesy of PR1 Motorsports, with Mike Forest, Thomas Merrill and Al Salvo driving.
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