Jan 24, 2014
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In accordance with sanctioning body IMSA standards, the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R has air conditioning. Given the 43 degree temperature for the Rolex 24 At Daytona morning practice session, one of the drivers asked where the heater controls were located.
That's one of the few differences between the race car and the 2015 Z06 Corvette production car that was unveiled last week at the North American International Auto Show and is on display at Daytona International Speedway this weekend. Actually, according to Chevrolet director of racing Mark Kent, "we had to take some performance out of the production car."
Click it: Live blog from the Rolex 24 At Daytona
Ryan Briscoe, who rejoins Chip Ganassi Racing Teams for the 2014 IndyCar Series season and is driving one of the twin Corvettes in the endurance race, took a long look at the Z06.
"It's incredible when you put the race car next to the production car how identical they are," he said. "I can't wait to drive one.
"It's great to be back in Daytona and a new experience for me to be driving the GT class. It's such a privilege for me to with Corvette Racing. I raced around them a lot in my years of doing LMP2 (in American Le Mans Series) and I'm always admired the cars and the team. I'm really excited."
Briscoe competed in seven races for Ganassi Racing (Indianapolis 500 Mile Race) and Panther Racing in 2013. He suffered a fractured wrist in the first race of the doubleheader at Toronto in mid-July and returned for the late August race at Sonoma Raceway. Briscoe will drive the No. 8 NTT DATA car during the 18-race season that kicks off March 30 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Briscoe, a new dad, participated in a Chevrolet manufacturer test Jan. 17 at Sebring International Raceway. Testing continues Feb. 6 at Auto Club Speedway and Feb. 8 at Sonoma Raceway.
"It was great to get back in the seat," he said, "and great to be back at Ganassi and working with (race engineer) Eric Cowdin like I did at Team Penske. It was the perfect first day of testing to get the ball rolling, get a feel for how the car handles the way Ganassi puts it together and where to go from there with my driving style.
"St. Petersburg, one of my favorite races of the year, is approaching quickly. I think it's the perfect place for INDYCAR to kick off the season. It's a great track and they promote it well. I want to make sure I'm comfortable and 100 percent back up to speed, and doing everything I need to be a front-runner at St. Pete."
Saavedra working to close deal
E.J. Viso and Sebastian Saavedra, who competed in the 2013 IndyCar Series season, were late additions to the Starworks Motorsports (Prototype class) team for the endurance race.
Saavedra, 23, of Colombia, who had a best finish of eighth for Dragon Racing last season, said he's hopeful of announcing plans soon for the 2014 IndyCar Series season.
"Anything that has wheels, I'm ready to do it," said Saavedra, who is making his debut in the race. "This was a late-minute situation, but it's an opportunity that I was going to let go by. My goal is IndyCar and we're working to make that happen."
Thirty years ago, it was the Andrettis
Mario Andretti earned the pole for the 1984 endurance race in the Porsche 962 -- the first race on an American track for the car. The factory-backed team included Michael Andretti.
Michael Andretti was in the lead when the Porsche 962 developed a transmission issue caused by heat from the turbocharger. Losing an hour for repairs, the car re-entered the race in 63rd position. Then a broken camshaft led to its retirement.
The race was won South Africans Sarel van der Merwe, Graham Duxbury and Tony Martin in a March-Porsche 83G. Runners-up were A.J. Foyt, Bob Wollek and Derek Bell. Foyt had teamed with Wollek, Preston Henn and Claude Ballot-Lena to win in 1983, and Foyt was joined in the winner’s circle in 1985 by Al Unser, Wollek and Thierry Bousten.
Sebastien Bourdais, who will driver the No. 11 KVSH Racing car during the IndyCar Series season, topped the time chart in the night practice session in the Action Express Prototype. ... Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, is competing in one of the sports car classes. The 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is April 11-13. … On Jan. 27, Michaelian will travel across the state as IndyCar Series team owners and event promoters have meetings scheduled with INDYCAR officials in St. Petersburg. … Andersen Promotions announced a technical partnership with Motegi Racing for the 2015 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season, in which it will debut a new chassis and engine. ... James Davison, who made his IndyCar Series debut at Mid-Ohio in 2013, said he's working on a deal to compete in the 98th Indianapolis 500. ... Hurley Haywood, winner of more endurance classics than any other driver in racing history, was presented the Phil Hill Award by the Road Racing Drivers Club.