2012 class vice-champions Stevenson Motorsports will be aiming to get their Rolex Series GT campaign off to a strong start at the Rolex 24 at Daytona with a driving squad bolstered by talent from Corvette Racing.
Scot Robin Liddell, who finished second in the drivers’ standings in GT last year, is joined by John Edwards to form the teams’ full season combination, but the extra duration of the Rolex 24 has brought in Jan Magnussen and Tommy Milner to the Chevrolet Camaro squad for the race (January 26-27).
“Daytona is one of those big races that you want to win. I was fortunate in 2011 to [win] Le Mans which was for me the highest on my list but not far behind is Daytona,” said Milner, who also won the 2012 American Le Mans Series GT class with Oliver Gavin. “That’s really what’s next on my list of ones that I want to win. I grew up watching my dad’s team. I’d stay up until 2-3 in the morning as long as I could stay awake to watch the race on SpeedVision back then. We have a lot of new competition here with the new GT3 cars that have come in are very quick. So far in testing we’re not the quickest again but we’re making gains for sure. Come race time I think we’ll be in better shape there as far as pace goes. At that point once we’re close on pace we can sort of focus on running a perfect race because that’s what it’s going to take to do well here.”
Liddell and Edwards were twice winners in 2012, but ultimately Liddell was unable to move Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal out of the class points lead. Obviously the team begin a new season intent on improving on their previous showings, plus a victory to start the year at Daytona would put Stevenson to the top of the points for the first time as team manager Mike Johnson explains.
“It’s weird–Stevenson has been a front running team ever since 2008 but we’ve never actually led the championship at any point of the year,” he said. “So that’s kind of a first goal is to get to lead, and then go from there and try to maintain that lead. We’ve had a lot of wins and a lot of podiums but we have also had that DNF or two that has taken us out of the championship picture. So we have to get rid of those. I’ve always said that nobody ever really wins these championships–everybody else just loses them. And I still think that’s pretty true.”
“Our goal is to win the championship,” stated Liddell. “We’ve been doing this for five years with Stevenson and we’ve come close at least a couple of times. It’s just such a great environment to be in and I do really feel like it’s a spiritual home for me. It starts at the top to be honest. John and Susan Stevenson are really great people and they are a very rare find in motor racing. They’ve put a proper program together with a full professional line up and everything else. They’ve got the hunger and the desire to compete and to win. And, they’re also fundamentally decent people behind all of that and that combination together I think makes a very rare find. It starts at the top and then works its way down.”
The first on-track action of the 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona takes place on Thursday 24 January with the opening practice sessions for the Rolex Series competitors.