Rolex 24 At Daytona is Underway!
AIM Autosport leads at the four hour and thirty minute mark.
Daytona Beach, Fla. (January 26, 2008) – After four hours, thirty minutes of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold of Colin Braun, Mark Wilkins, Brian Frisselle and Andrew Ranger found themselves in the overall lead.
In GT action, Leh Keen in the No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Porsche GT3 with Wolf Henzler, Eric Lux, Sascha Maassen and Jörg Bergmeister has climbed to the class lead. The battle hasn't been easy, fighting with the pole-sitting No. 70 of Sylvain Tremblay, Nick Ham, David Haskell and Raphael Matos throughout the race's first stint.
In the race's first four hours, a total of 11 different Daytona Prototypes led laps – already more than the 9 leaders from the entire Rolex 24 a season ago.
The race's drama began before the green flag flew. With a steady drizzle falling all morning long, teams were forced to choose between the Pirelli P-Zero slicks and rain tires. With that decision made before the cars were sent to pre-race ceremonies, 13 Daytona Prototypes and three GT machines chose the rain tires.
As the track began to dry, it became obvious that the slicks were the correct choice. The Nos. 01, 02, 03, 09, 2, 3, 11, 61, 77, 91, and 99 machines were forced to pit on the parade lap, change tires, and take the green flag from pit lane – giving the remaining field a running start on many of the top teams.
Rolex 24 At Daytona Quote Board:
RICARDO ZONTA, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley driver:
"I had a lot of fun. It's nice to drive here in Daytona. To say the truth, I learned the circuit really during the race because I did not have much time in the car. I crashed in practice so we lost a few days. The race was really nice. I'm enjoying it a lot. This is my first long endurance race. The other GT drivers were working very well and leaving good lines for me to go. There was no risk. The car is fantastic. It's really good to drive. I didn't push too hard. I was just safe and good."
Regarding leading the race at Daytona:
"When you are at the top, it is nice. I think it is still a long race to go. Anything can happen. For our part of the team, we are very happy. No problems. The car was very good. The tires are working very well as well".
Memo Gidley, No. 77 Doran Racing Kodak Pontiac Doran:
"We changed from rain tires to slicks at the start. It took a lap or two to get through all the GT cars, but we did. I just tried to go easy on the car and be very consistent, because we want to run all day long."
"The track conditions are OK, but at the start it was real dirty in the Bus Stop. Traffic is pretty decent though. The car was working great when I was in it; the Doran Racing Kodak team does a great job."
Scott Pruett, No. 01 TELMEX/Target Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley:
"I've been having a little problem locking up the front so I had to do a couple of pit stops because we're being overly cautious. The TELMEX car is running well otherwise. I just need to find that fine line between carrying good speed and avoiding locking it up."
Scott Dixon, No. 02 Target/TELMEX Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley:
"We led 33 laps and the Target car was pretty decent really. We're really only driving it at 70 or 80% and it is handling really well but gets just a bit loose towards the final 10 laps but no real problems. The traffic is the main thing and we actually had a pretty good run there and didn't get slowed up too much. Its been fun so far and we're happy because the car is good and as long as we can keep it under ourselves without any mistakes we should be alright."
OLIVER GAVIN, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley:
"It was a lot of fun. It was good racing against some good guys. I managed to catch a pack including Pat Long, Ricardo (Zonta) and Alex Gurney. We had a good dice for awhile, a good battle. It was quite evenly matched, I think, between all of us. Ricardo managed to get away a little bit towards the end there. It's great fun racing. It's going to be hard. It's going to be very tough. There's nothing easy about this race. It's a little frustrating sometimes trying to make way. You think, ‘Oh, I've got quite a bit of a run here,' but then, all of a sudden, you stumble across a very slow Mazda or a very slow Porsche and you lose your momentum. That's endurance racing. That's how it goes."
Mark Wilkins, No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold Ford Riley:
"The car is unbelievable. This team really has prepared an excellent car for Brian, Andrew, Colin and I. It was a great set of tires-we had a little flat spot, but the tire came back just fine. I had a big battle for the lead with Negri but I really was just trying to stay in his air and save some fuel. It was great to move into the lead, and I'm really excited that all our testing and hard work in the off-season has paid off with a really fantastic race car."