ARP Motorsports' Audi R8 GRAND-AM (Photo Credit: Audi Motorsport)

ARP Motorsports' Audi R8 GRAND-AM (Photo Credit: Audi Motorsport)

The latest version of the enormously successful Audi GT racer will race for the first time this weekend, when two Audi R8 GRAND-AM line up for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Two teams – APR Motorsport and Oryx Racing – will introduce the car to the American series at Daytona International Speedway where they will compete in the extremely large and varied GT class of the Rolex Series.

As well as a field of over 60 cars racing on track a range of events are taking place to celebrate the history of the event with over 40 past winners – including Audi works driver Mike Rockenfeller – returning to the track with 29 of the winning cars from the past also on show to fans at Daytona International Speedway.

“We are proud to be part of the action for the first time at the event's special anniversary,” stresses Werner Frowein, MD of quattro GmbH, which has developed the Audi R8 GRAND-AM. “Two customer teams have already opted for our new race car and we are currently in negotiations with other buyers. Following its appearance at Daytona, the Audi R8 GRAND-AM will also be seen at the other twelve rounds of the GRAND-AM series. In the future, our customers will be directly supported by Audi of America. This presence in America is another important element of developing Audi Sport customer racing.”

Alabama-based APR Motorsports moves into the Rolex Series with previous experience in the Continental Tire Series. They will bring a five strong team of drivers to Daytona – Americans Ian Baas and Dr. Jim Norman, Venezuelan Nelson Canache, with Dion von Moltke and former factory Audi man Emanuele Pirro completing the team.

“Entering the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is the biggest challenge APR Motorsport has taken on so far,” emphasizes Stephen Hooks, President of APR. “Our team prepared for this step at previous runs in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. APR is known around the world as one of the leading tuners of Audi, Volkswagen, Seat and Å koda vehicles. We're looking forward to the Audi R8 GRANDAM with huge anticipation, our customers and fans are really excited and since the 'Roar before the 24' test we've just been dying for the 24-hour race to start.”

Oryx Racing, meanwhile, will rely on a three man team with Humaid Al Masaood and Saeed Al Mehairi joined by former BTCC driver Steven Kane – the Northern Irishman having shared Dyson Racing P1 car with Al Masaood in last season's American Le Mans Series.

“2012 is a new chapter for Oryx Racing and Arabic motorsport,” said Al Masaood. “We're entering a new car in a series that's new to us. It was important to us to be involved in the project right from the beginning and help continue to develop this fascinating customer racing car from Audi to become as competitive as possible.”

The 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona begins at 3:30pm local time (8:30pm UK time) on Saturday January 28. The Checkered Flag will have comprehensive coverage of the entire event.