MOMO NGT Motorsport is prepared to kick start its TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season off in style at the 52nd running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.
The team have compiled a strong line-up for the blue riband season opener, with full-time drivers Henrique Cisneros and Kuba Giermaziak set to be joined by Christina Nielsen and Porsche Supercup champion, Nicky Thiim. Neither Nielsen or Thiim have any Daytona experience, although the two are extremely familiar with Porsche machinery.
“I’m really looking forward to this event, which is a highlight of any racing driver’s career. Endurance races, whether it’s a 6, 12, or 24 hour race, puts the driver to the mental and physical maximum,” said Thiim. “The key in all this is to be well prepared. Of course [having no Daytona experience] is a small setback in the preparation, not having been in attendance at the test. But you have to get the best out of what you have. With good teammates and crew, I don’t see that as a problem. I got some good material from drivers who have raced there, so I’m just going to really try to get into the pace as fast as I can when I get to my first run.”
The 2013 running of the Rolex 24 did not end in the way that the MOMO NGT squad had hoped, with technical issues forcing them into retirement after 19 hours of racing.
“In endurance racing, anything can happen,” explained Cisneros. “You have to keep fighting until the checkered flag, regardless of how futile it might seem. A brake rotor exploded due to the high stresses of the race last year. In the future, we will be more conservative and take the extra pit time to change the necessary components rather than rolling the dice on the longevity of our braking components.
“Our lineup is perfect for this race,” he continued. “Christina Nielsen is extremely competitive and consistent with a lot of endurance experience, which will be key during the first 20 hours of the race. I will provide a similar role as Christina by keeping the car intact, out of trouble, and on the lead lap. Finally, the last 4-6 hours belong to Kuba and Nicki Thiim. Both drivers are Porsche Supercup veterans, and can turn into wild animals when they hear “push, push, push” on the radio, so it will be exciting to see our strategy fall into place.”
A mammoth field of 67 cars across four classes is expected for the only 24 hour race on the TUDOR Championship schedule, a brand new series for 2014 following the merger of the American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am.
Despite traffic expected to play a major part in the twice-round-the-clock race, MOMO NGT Motorsport is confident it will reach the chequered flag at the sharp end of the field, using lessons learnt from the 2013 retirement to help them stay on top and make it to the end.
“During the race we have to be ready for anything, avoid any unscheduled pit stops, and stay out of trouble,” concluded Team Manager, Ramez Wahab. “As for the rest of what goes into any endurance race, especially Daytona with such a large field of cars, only time will tell.”