Several Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge teams enjoyed a head start at Grand-Am's newest venue, participating in the first unofficial test at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Tex., site of Round 2 of the upcoming season.
"The track is beautiful, and the circuit is amazing," said Bill Auberlen, who tested BMWs in both series for Turner Motorsport. "It's a real driver's course. We're going to see a fantastic race when we come back here in March."
Both Grand-Am divisions will race at Circuit of The Americas on Saturday, March 2 – the multi-million dollar facility's first event since it hosted Formula 1 in its grand opening in November.
"The track has awesome potential," said this season's Rolex 24 at Daytona and Indianapolis Motor Speedway winner Andy Lally, who tested the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 in addition to the No. 48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3. "It will be a good race. There are a lot of places to set up banzai outbraking passes."
With Turner Motorsport and Magnus Racing testing their GT cars, Stevenson Motorsports opted to run only its GS Chevrolet Camaro. Other CTSCC teams included Fall-Line Motorsports, Rum Bum Racing, Automatic Racing and Multimatic Motorsports.
"This is a spectacular facility – like no other place I've seen," said Matt Plumb, who tested with fellow five-time 2012 GS winner Nick Longhi in the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche Carrera. "The Formula 1 race here had some of the best racing I've ever seen. The track is configured so it has many passing zones and plenty of room. It should make for some great racing when we come back. It raises the excitement level, for sure."
Meanwhile, several Daytona Prototype teams fine-tuned their lineups for the 2013 season-opening 51st Rolex 24 on Jan. 26-27 at Daytona International Speedway. Team Sahlen added 2012 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Simon Pagenaud to its No. 42 BMW/Riley, joining Dane Cameron and Wayne Nonnamaker. British veteran Oliver Gavin will co-drive the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP with Richard Westbrook, Ricky Taylor and Antonio Garcia.
Highway to Help Racing will return to the Rolex 24 with the No. 50 BMW/Riley driven by 1996 Rolex 24 winner Jim Pace, 2007 Rolex 24 GT winner Carlos de Queseda, Byron Defoor and Frank Beck.
In GT, Marsh Racing is looking to make its Rolex 24 debut with the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette. Joining regular drivers Boris Said and Eric Curran are Lawson Aschenbach and Brandon Davis.
Racers Edge Motorsports returns with its No. 78 Mazda RX-8 with an all-Mexican lineup. The team is looking to run the full season with Martin Fuentes and Ricardo Perez, who will be joined in the Telcel/Benotto/Hublot/Under Armour entry at the Rolex 24 by NASCAR Mexico driver Carlos Peralta and Rudy Camarillo.
Other GT lineups recently entered for the Rolex 24 include the No. 03 Extreme Speed Motorsports Tequila Patrón Ferrari 458 Italia of 1996 Rolex 24 winner Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Mike Hedlund and Johannes van Overbook; Alex Job Racing's No. 23 WeatherTech Porsche GT3 of Jeroen Bleekemolen, Damien Faulkner, Marco Holzer and Cooper MacNeil; the No. 17 Burtin Racing with Goldcrest Motorsports Foametix Porsche GT3 of Jack Baldwin, Claudio Burtin and Martin Ragginger; the No. 62 Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports Porsche GT3 of Madison and Melanie Snow; and the No. 80 TruSpeed Motorsports Porsche GT3 of Kelly Collins, Phil Fogg, Tom Haacker and Jim Walsh.
Napelton Racing will make its Rolex Series debut in the new GX class with the No. 16 Porsche Cayman. Veteran Shane Lewis will lead the driver lineup, with his co-drivers to be announced in the near future.
The next official on-track activity for both the Grand-Am Rolex Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will be the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test at Daytona on Jan. 4-6.