2012 Rolex 24-winning team Michael Shank Racing is looking to defend its crown this weekend. The team, which will be entering the #6 and #60 Ford-Riley Prototypes are looking to repeat their double-podium success of last year, where the winning margin was just five seconds.
Team owner Mike Shank is optimistic of his team’s chances this year:
“It has been an incredibly busy time here ahead of the 24 but the work that goes into having the kind of race that we did last year really goes back months and months,” he explained. “As satisfying as it was to win last year, we’re even hungrier this year because we know what it is like to win and there would be nothing better than to do it again.”
The #60 machine will be piloted by the same winning team as 2012: Ozz Negri, John Pew, A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson. They are joined this year by Marcos Ambrose.
Allmendinger sees a second victory as a realistic prospect:
“It’s fun to come back to the race as defending champions,” said Allmendinger. “For all of us, we’ve been so close to a great finish so many years and when you walk into the garage and you remember the previous year looking at the team that had won the race and now we’re that team. So everybody is going to be gunning for us – we know that – but overall from the sounds of it, John and Ozz and everybody has made the car even better and we should have another good shot at it.”
Behind the wheel of the #6 Ford-Riley will be Michael Valiante, Chris Cumming, Gustavo Yacaman and Jorge Goncalvez. Both Yacaman and Goncalvez finished on the podium in 2012, and are looking for more this year:
“I’m very happy to come back with the same team,” said Goncalvez. “I think we have even more of a chance to be better than last year with the new car. This year we have two different drivers than we did last year and I think they are two really good drivers for the 24 hour race and they are really fast. We need to concentrate on the long race. I’m really happy to be back.”
The Rolex 24 At Daytona opens with practice and qualifying on Thursday, January 24. Friday features a one-hour final practice session ahead of Saturday’s green flag which is set to drop on the 51st Rolex 24 At Daytona at 1530 (ET), 2030 GMT. The Checkered Flag will be providing hour-by-hour coverage of the end from lights to flag.