Fittipaldi and team leads the way in Rolex testing at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JANUARY 27:  The #9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP driven by Mike Rockenfeller, Burt Frisselle, Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa, drives during the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 27, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – JANUARY 27: The #9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP driven by Mike Rockenfeller, Burt Frisselle, Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa, drives during the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 27, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Testing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway wrapped up Sunday. Three days of “Roar Before the Rolex 24” test sessions were in preparation for the season-opening race for the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Jan. 25-26.

Christian Fittipaldi put down the quick time — both overall and in the headlining Prototype class — Friday morning in the No. 5 Corvette DP: 1 minute, 38.630 seconds/129.940 mph on the Daytona 3.56-mile road course.The series features several classes and drivers from all forms of motor sport.

“I just have to really thank all the boys on the team,” Richard Westbrook who was second-quickest on the weekend in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP said via a press release. “The new staff as well. Everything seems to be clicking into place. We’ve just kept our head down, fine-tuned and the results seem to be coming toward us. We have a really nice, comfortable car to drive that seems to be quick. Just really nice working with the two Michaels. There is a great atmosphere in the team. Looking forward to the 24 (Hours).”

Westbrook’s time was 1:38.989 (129.549 mph) lap. He drives with full-season teammate Michael Valiante and Mike Rockenfeller.

“It has been a very productive three days at Daytona for the Corvette Daytona Prototype teams in preparation for the Rolex 24 Hour race, said Jim Lutz, Chevrolet TUDOR Championship Daytona Prototype Program Manager. “All of the teams had the opportunity to work with the latest technical regulations IMSA has put in place thus far for the class. Every driver for each of the teams was able to get ample seat time throughout the three-day test.”

Not all the action was on the track this weekend. Many teams announced lineups for the Rolex 24 as well as the entire season. Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian introduced John Pew, Ozz Negri, Justin Wilson, and AJ Allmendinger, the same driver line-up that won the 2012 event.

Seven-time and reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champions Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) said they will again field two Prototypes for the Rolex 24. Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas will team up with CGRFS NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teammate Jamie McMurray and reigning Indy Lights Champion Sage Karam to form the lineup in the No. 01 Telcel/Target/Comfort Revolution Ford EcoBoost Riley. Meanwhile a CGRFS trio of drivers Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and NASCAR Sprint Cup series rookie Kyle Larson join sports car star Marino Franchitti in the No. 02 Target/Telcel/Big Machine Records Ford EcoBoost.

The other big news was the return of Nissan . Nissan dominated US sportscar racing from 1988 to 1991 – winning four consecutive driver’s championships, three manufacturer’s titles and 33 IMSA races.

Information from: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20140105/alms/140109946 and http://nissannews.com/en-US/nissan/usa/releases/nissan-returns-to-top-level-u-s-sports-car-racing

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