Wayne Taylor will not be achieving one of his dreams in the 2009 Rolex 24, having decided to run with SunTrust rather than form a family alliance with sons Ricky and Jordan in the new #13 Beyer Racing Ford Crawford.

The veteran tested with his offspring in October in the hope of running as a family in the Rolex 24, but will now be keeping an eye on his sons' efforts from afar. Taylor loaned Beyer Racing his two Pontiac Rileys for the test, and the team kept one of them - the car SunTrust used to finish fifth in the 2008 Rolex 24 and third in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen - for Daytona this week.

Elsewhere, another big name was all but confirmed as returning for the Grand-Am season-opener as Michael Shank Racing said that NASCAR's AJ Allmendinger - who qualified second in the team's #6 car this year - would be back at Daytona in January. Shank is close to filling out the roster for the enduro, but leaning toward veteran sports car drivers as opposed to open-wheel stars.

Last year, MSR ran the Rolex with a new package - an updated Riley chassis and Ford engines - and with IndyCar stars Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal coming aboard. While there is a driver change on the #6 this year, with Michael Valiante joining the team, the #60 entry co-driven by Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson will remain the same.

"The recipe of the cake was working pretty good, so we kept everything the same," Negri said, "That's good, because we can develop from what we had last year. Everything with the test is going great, as always. The team does a fantastic job. We have a real good car and it's very competitive. We're experimenting with the new Pirelli tyres, which are really good, almost the same as the old ones. They give us a lot of confidence that we can do the same in 2009."

One IndyCar driver of the past, motorcycle legend Jeff Ward, is hoping to land a ride at the Rolex 24 and is testing with Spirit of Daytona. The seven-time AMA motocross champion joined superbike ace Scott Russell and Guy Cosmo as he seeks to return to the Daytona classic for a second time after driving the Ford Keiler KII in the 1997 event.

Spirit of Daytona's #09 Porsche Coyote is sporting the updated bodywork, but still carrying the black-and-gold colours raced by Cheever Racing last season. The team is expecting delivery of a new Coyote in the very near future.

In the GT class, SpeedSource tested no fewer than ten drivers on Tuesday as it seeks to build on its domination of recent events at Daytona. The team's #70 Mazda RX-8 has won the last three GT races at the Florida venue, including the 2008 Rolex 24, and SpeedSource brought both of its cars to Tuesday's test, complete with the seven drivers listed to contest seats in the #70.

Rolex 24 winners Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham participated in the test, and will be joined in January's race by David Haskell. Vying for the fourth seat, however, are four drivers - all Mazdaspeed Motorsport Development Ladder drivers - including three who have never competed in the 24-hour class before. Ben Devlin, Joel Miller and Jason Saini would like to put the Rolex 24 on their resume, while Jonathan Bomarito participated in the race in 2005 in a Daytona Prototype. Bomarito, Devlin and Miller are all open-wheel veterans - indeed, Miller had never competed in a roofed car before this test - while Saini is a sportscar veteran in Mazda Miatas and MX-5 Cup cars.

"That's a marquee seat right now, that drive and that car," Ham said, "We have to live with these people for a month or two. We have to know that they're going to do what we want them to do. It's a big decision. So far, they've all done an excellent job, and no problems."

As for the test, Ham was happy with the car's performance so far.

"It's gone excellent so far," he said, "We were a little ways off with handling this morning, but we worked hard in the first session. The car is fast, handling very well and is drivable, and that gives us a lot of confidence. We cycled through a lot of drivers for the fourth seat this afternoon for the fourth seat, so everything's been going very well so far."

The team's #69 Mazda RX-8 was tested by Jeff Segal, Nick Longhi and Emil Assentato, with Segal spending a lot of time in the car, and hoping to be there full-time in 2009.

"We're still working on that for right now," said the Sahlen's Six Hours class winner, "Testing is going well. We're working on it. There's an announcement that should be forthcoming following this test. I'm also working on something for the KONI Challenge Series, ideally with Automatic Racing. I've spent a lot of time with them, and we've come a long way."

Mexican driver Santos Zanella was one of three drivers in the #21 Matt Connolly Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R on Tuesday, but admitted that it was much different than any racecar he had driven in the past.

"It's very different than what I am used to," Zanella said, "It's traction is in the rear instead of the front, and you have to be very careful with the throttle because it is very soft. Hopefully, when I get back out, I can better my time."

Also running for the Connolly stable this week are Jeff Altenburg, a former SPEED World Challenge champion, veteran team driver Ryan Phinny and Romeo Kapudija, who last competed for Hyper Sport.

Among the drivers on site pursuing opportunities for the 24 Hours were veterans Terry Borcheller, Marc Goossens, Shane Lewis and Anthony Lazzaro, former Champ Car race winner Nelson Philippe and open-wheel veterans Michel Jourdain Jr and Arie Luyendyk Jr and Sr.



Loading Comments...