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Rolex 24: Menezes targets Daytona victory

Gustavo Menezes says he is after a winners' Rolex watch this year at the 24-hour endurance race in Daytona and believes his team has the best car and driver package on the grid
Gustavo Menezes has joined Rocketsports Racing for the Rolex 24-hour race at Daytona and has his sights firmly set on a class victory in just his second year at the event.

Menezes, who recently agreed to race for Carlin in the 2015 Formula 3 European Championship, will co-drive with British IndyCar racer Jack Hawksworth, three-time Champ Car World Series runner up Bruno Junqueira and USCC driver Chris Cumming in a Oreca FLM09 Chevrolet.

The 20-year-old was surprised by the call up from team owner Paul Gentilozzi about returning to Daytona and says he has nothing to lose in this race.

“I was at home training for my European F3 season when I received the call, so it came as quite a surprise. It should be a lot of fun,” Menezes said. “Racing in January helps to keep your reflexes sharp and your fitness levels up during the off-season. I learned a lot there last year, and I'm returning this time as a much more mature driver.”

12 months ago the young driver was unfortunate to miss out on a positive result after his car was forced out of contention while leading in the class.

“I'm optimistic that we can have a good run, and the target is definitely to go for the class win. I'm hugely excited about the race, I've got nothing to lose – and I really want to come away with a Daytona Rolex watch!”

The American took part in the 'Roar before the 24' earlier this month and thoroughly impressed over the test sessions, finishing second in the PC class and a highly respectable 14th place overall from the field of 53.

Despite Menezes' lack of experience in endurance racing, the young driver feels more than ready to tackle the 24-hour race.

“One of the key elements in endurance racing is nurturing the car so it maintains its pace and reliability over such a long distance. Strategy plays a major role, and with more than 50 cars on the track all at the same time, you're either overtaking or being overtaken pretty much every lap so you can't afford to take any unnecessary risks in the traffic.”

Menezes, who also raced for Rocketsports Racing last year in Florida, paid tribute to the improvements his teams have made from 2014 and feels they have one of the best all-round car and driver packages on the grid in the PC class.

“It's an excellent all-round package, and I think our driver line-up is one of the strongest in the PC field. I've known Bruno for a long time and I'm good friends with both him and Jack, and Chris seems like a great guy too. We will all be able to learn from each other and push each other hard to drive the team forward.”

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