Juan Pablo Montoya: “I think we’re going to be tough to beat”

Credit: Daytona International Speedway

Juan Pablo Montoya took part in the a test session with his Team Penske stablemates at Daytona International Speedway on Friday as the team continued their development ahead of their debut with the Acura ARX-05 at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

The Colombian will line-up alongside 2016 Prototype champion Dane Cameron for a full-time campaign in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next season, while the duo will be joined by 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud for the 24-hour season opener.

Montoya feels the team will be hard to beat after a competitive-looking test at Daytona, and he expects them to be well-prepared by the time the race gets underway on 27 January 2018.

“It’s always exciting to come to the Rolex 24 and it’s exciting being involved with Team Penske and Acura,” said Montoya. “I feel like we’re going to start off being really competitive.

“This car is insane; it really moves. I think with Acura and Team Penske you come in knowing you’re going to probably be the best well-prepared team. With the background of Acura and Team Penske and the driver line-up which is unbelievable … I think we’re going to be tough to beat.”

Montoya will resume his battle with Fernando Alonso at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, with the Spaniard set to make his sports car race debut in the event for United Autosports alongside Britons Philip Hanson and Lando Norris.

Montoya resumed his rivalry during last year’s Indianapolis 500 after the Spaniard raced for McLaren Andretti Autosport, and the Colombian says that Alonso is passionate about racing, and wants to excel in different categories, with the duo having first locked horns in Formula 1 in the early 2000’s.

“Fernando is in kind of the same boat as myself,” said Montoya. “He’s wanting to try a lot more racing. And he’s passionate about racing.”

Helio Castroneves, who has made the full-time switch from IndyCar to sports car racing in 2018 and will race in Penske’s second Acura alongside Ricky Taylor, as well as Graham Rahal for Daytona, said the Rolex 24 is THE challenge that all drivers want to win in the IMSA championship, and the tests at Daytona are to ensure they are best prepared for the event as possible.

“When you’re talking about [events like] the DAYTONA 500, the Indy 500, the Super Bowl … the Rolex 24, for the IMSA series, is definitely one of those,” said Castroneves.

“It’s the big one. If you’re going to win one race this is where you want to make it happen. Plus it’s a challenge. It is big and that’s why we’re here testing. We want to prepare as much as we can.”