Seven Porsche works drivers will be among the glittering field for this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona. “This race right at the start of the season is a huge challenge for our teams and drivers,” says Hartmut Kristen, the head of Porsche Motorsport. “It's particularly appealing that drivers from many different race series come together on neutral ground in Daytona.”
The Stuttgart based makers challenge for the overall title will be led by Flying Lizard Motorsports, the California based team making a foray into the Grand-Am series' Daytona Prototype class for the first time. The drivers for the team remain the same as would grace a Flying Lizard Porsche in any GT class, Seth Neiman and Johannes van Overbeek being joined by Porsche works men Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister.
The team are running the Porsche powered Riley chassis that won the 2009 race and Bergmeister is optimistic of a strong showing at Daytona; “The Porsche engine and the Riley chassis go well together,” he says. “We tested the car in Homestead and Daytona and made great progress there. By the race, the team will be more familiar with the new car and that increases our chances.”
But it is in the GT where – as you might expect – Porsche main works effort lies.
Marco Holzer – in his first race as a works driver – and Richard Lietz are entered in the no.44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3. German Wolf Henzler is among the drivers for the three car effort put up by TRG while Patrick Pilet drivers in the no.54 jointly entered by TRG, Black Swan Racing and GMG Racing.
“I can't wait for my first race as a Porsche works driver,” Henzler enthuses. “And it's even better that it takes place at Daytona. To start the season with such a classic is a great challenge. I really like this track. It's demanding, but it's also great fun.”
Le Mans Series champion Marc Lieb joins Brumos Racing for the event. One of the most successful teams in Grand-Am competition Brumos are stepping down into the GT ranks for the 2011 season, veteran driver (and five time overall Daytona 24 winner) Hurley Haywood coming out of retirement to be part of the four man driving team for the no.59 car, ready to add another start to the 37 he already has at the race.
Porsche's involvement in the race goes much further than just the seven works drivers. Martin Ragginger, the Austrian a former Porsche Junior driver, is part of the five man Burtin Racing team, alongside Porsche Carrera Cup Germany champion Nicolas Armindo and Mobil 1 Supercup front runner Nick Tandy and Jeroen Bleekemolen – a former Supercup champion – joins Pilet in the TRG/Black Swan/GMG entry.
In total 14 Porsche GT3 are among the entry, and the Daytona Prototype class includes further Porsche involvement with three Porsche engine cars in the class – two cars from last year's winning team Action Express Racing joining Flying Lizard Motorsports on the grid.
All will be looking to add to Porsche's record at the Daytona 24 Hours, the marque already the most successful in the race with 22 overall and 72 class wins, and not just the three Prototypes dreaming of overall wins, the GT teams hoping to emulated the 2003 winners JÃ¶rg Bergmeister, Timo Bernhard, Kevin Buckler and Michael Schrom who won the race in a near standard GT3 Porsche ahead of the faster DP field.