Williams F1 development driver Lance Stroll is preparing to throw himself into the deep end of endurance racing with his debut sportscar race at the legendary Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.
The 17-year-old Canadian is the second-youngest driver on the entry list at the 54th Rolex 24 Hours and will partner reigning FIA World Endurance Champion Brendon Hartley, three-time WTCC champion Andy Priaulx and two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Alex Wurz in a Claritin/Target Ford EcoBoost Prototype run by Ford Chip Ganassi.
Stroll, who only graduated from karting two years ago, says he is well aware of the task ahead of him but in a new car, new surroundings and new tyres but the Canadian is hoping for a clean race to pick up as much experience as possible.
“My goal is obviously to win like every race I enter. My aim is to be consistent, have good pace, stay out of trouble and bring the car home safely in one piece for one of my team-mates to take over,” Stroll said. “The Claritin/Target Ford EcoBoost Prototype is a lot heavier and has more power than what I'm normally used to racing. The Continental tyres are new to me too while scheduled pit-stops are something else new for me.
“With 54-cars racing in four different classes there are big differences in car performance in terms of outright speed and braking characteristics so you need to fully concentrate every second of each lap. The duration of driving stints will be at least double to what I'm used to. Before a 'sprint' F3 race, I normally get a good night's sleep but I could be getting woken up at 3am and strapped in the car an hour later.
“In essence absolutely everything is completely different to what I've grown up with and what I'm used to but it'll be a great challenge and I'm really, really looking forward to it. In terms of the Daytona track layout, it's not massively difficult or technical but because of that very aspect, a driver must appreciate it.”
In November, Stroll left Ferrari's driver academy to take up a test and development driver role at the Williams F1 squad for 2016 alongside a second season in the FIA European Formula 3 championship with Prema Powerteam.