DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Six weeks before making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut with Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2005, Ryan Briscoe competed in the Rolex 24 At Daytona for the first time.
On Jan. 25, the seven-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner earned his first signature timepiece by co-driving the No. 3 Corvette Racing car with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia to victory in the GT Le Mans class.
“It’s one of those huge races that you really strive to win and one of those weekends on the calendar that you block out every year and come here and try to win a Rolex,” the 33-year-old Australian said. “I’ve done it in a few different cars, and definitely doing it in a Corvette Racing factory car is special. This race is really important to the team. I’m massively proud of myself and the job that the team did.”
Briscoe, who returned to Chip Ganassi Racing full time in 2014, said he’s continuing to pursue a ride for the 2015 season that begins March 8 with the Brasilia Indy 300 in Brazil.
“We were talking with Ed (Carpenter) about his seat (for road/street course races), but that didn’t work out,” said Briscoe, whose next sports car race with be the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 18-21. “I don’t see a full-time seat happening. I’m hoping we can find something for the Indy 500; that would fit in great with the endurance races. I feel strongly that I have unfinished business at Indy.
“I would love to do any other IndyCar races that fit in, too.”
Simon Pagenaud, who was competing for the first time in the companion Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, co-drove with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner to third place in class.
“It was great. I was going flat-out every lap,” he said. “The difficulty is to judge traffic and how to deal with it. I’m really impressed with the GT Le Mans class and how competitive every car is and the drivers. It’s a constant battle and a lot of fun. The most important part (is) to put the car in a good place so my teammates can do the rest.”
He’ll be behind the wheel of the No. 22 Team Penske Verizon IndyCar Series car for testing Feb. 3 at Sebring International Raceway.
Hunter-Reay's weekend on the track cut short
An engine issue after the No. 7 Starworks Motorsport Prototype completed 426 laps of the 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona cut short Ryan Hunter-Reay’s quest for his first Rolex timepiece.
The reigning Indianapolis 500 champion and 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion co-drove with Rubens Barrichello, Brendon Hartley, Tor Graves and Scott Mayer.
“It’s a big deal, that's something that's very important to me. This is my ninth Daytona 24,” said Hunter-Reay, a resident of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “I've had the opportunity to be with a lot of great teams and come very close. I haven't got there yet. Every year we come back, this is where we start the season and it’s just pleasure to be here. Nine times; it's a hard race to win.”
Hunter-Reay won the Indianapolis 500 in his seventh start. He’ll be behind the wheel of the No. 28 Andretti Autosport car Feb. 3 for the initial test of the year at Sebring International Raceway.
Austin Cindric, who competed in USF2000 in 2014, co-drove with Jade Buford to eighth place in the BMW Performance 200 – the opening race of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. Cindric, 16, is the son of Penske Racing president Tim Cindric. … Memo Gidley, who continues rehabilitation from serious injuries suffered in a crash in the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona, said he’s eyeing a return to sports car racing. “I definitely want to get back out there, but No. 1 is to get back to 100 percent strong, or nearly 100 percent strong, before I can make that happen.” … Jamie McMurray, who co-drove with Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Kyle Larson to the overall victory, joined Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt as drivers to have won the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Daytona 500.