Grand AM »

Johnston turns first proper laps at Daytona

Rolex 24 Driver Challenge winner Derek Johnston turns first Daytona laps during Rolex 24 at Daytona test.
Derek Johnston got his first taste of Daytona International Speedway during this week's two-day Rolex 24 At Daytona test session.

Joined by more than 20 other GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series teams, Johnston, the inaugural winner of the Rolex 24 At Daytona Driver Challenge, tested the twist and turns of Daytona's 3.56-mile road course with the #09 Spirit of Daytona Porsche Coyote as he prepares for the 48th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 30-31.

In addition to winning the Radical Series championship in his native United Kingdom, Johnston turned in a higher average score (based on finishing position, pole positions and fastest race laps) than 97 other contestants in four British championships to capture the Rolex 24 At Daytona Driver Challenge.

Johnston's prize is a funded seat in a Daytona Prototype in the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona as well as participation in this week's test session and the January 8-10 Roar Before The Rolex 24 test session.

The team that Johnston will race with in the Rolex 24 has not been determined. During this week's test, he is turning laps in a Daytona Prototype with the Holly Hill-based Spirit of Daytona and getting plenty of instruction from sports car veteran Guy Cosmo.

“He's been very helpful,” Johnston said after receiving the Rolex 24 At Daytona Driver Challenge plaque from DIS President Robin Braig during Tuesday's lunch break. “He's a very good instructor. He makes you feel calm. He doesn't get excited. He makes you work on bits that give you big improvement quickly. It's been pretty good.”

Last month, Johnston was able to take a few laps around Daytona's road course in a passenger car with another sports car veteran Terry Borcheller - the leading winner of Rolex Series history with 24 class victories - and then tested a Daytona Prototype with Spirit of Daytona at Virginia International Raceway.

This week, he is at full speed on Daytona's daunting 31-degree high banks and Johnston admits he is still awed by the entire experience of being the inaugural Rolex 24 At Daytona Driver Challenge winner.

“I still haven't gotten over the shock of it to be honest,” Johnston said. “It's still only my third season of racing cars. To come out here is massive. To be at Daytona for two days and have a car and team and everybody has been really helpful, it's just overwhelming. It really is.”

Daytona International Speedway is a storied motorsports facility and the 47-year-old Johnston said that his fellow competitors in the Radical Series are very envious of his experience.

“I think everybody in the world knows this track,” said Johnston, who is also a successful businessman in the England and managing director of MSW UK Ltd. “It is a world famous race circuit without a doubt. I don't think everybody knows what it looks like or appreciates the size of the place. I've known about Daytona all of my life.”


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Derek Johnston
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]
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]

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.