Grand-Am's Rolex Sports Car Series wrapped up a two-day Rolex 24 at Daytona test session on Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway. The test featured 24 teams shaking down Pirelli tires as well as preparing for the daunting task of the twice-around-the-clock challenge – the 48th anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 30-31.
Among the teams in attendance were defending Rolex 24 champions Brumos Racing, SunTrust Racing, Michael Shank Racing, Spirit of Daytona, Krohn Racing, Doran Racing, TRG Motorsports, Dempsey Racing, Doran Racing, Racers Edge and Turner Motorsport.
Brumos Racing, which captured the 2009 Rolex 24 in the No. 58 Porsche Riley with drivers David Donohue, Darren Law, Antonio Garcia and Buddy Rice, will be defending their race victory in the famous No. 59 Porsche Riley with drivers Donohue, Law and sports car legend Hurley Haywood, who will be making a record 37th Rolex 24 start.
“The most important thing is to get use to the new 2010 tire from Pirelli,” said Haywood about the two-day test. “We are quite pleased with the performance of that tire. We're not really testing a lot of things. We're very happy with the setup we had here in January '09 and that proved to be good for us. We're just polishing the corners and making sure everything is working properly and getting everything out of the way so when we come back here in January 2010, we are ready to run. We will run through all the drivers in the lineup and then park the car and wait for the race.”
Haywood, who owns a record five Rolex 24 wins and also serves as a vice president at Brumos, says preparing for the grueling test of the Rolex 24 has changed through the years because the competition has gotten tighter.
“With the intensity of this race, it's no longer a race that you can figure out a game plan and run according to the game plan,” Haywood said. “You have to run absolutely 100 percent out of the gate or you are going to find yourself a lap down or two laps down. The wear and tear on the equipment is pretty strenuous. When you try to make everything mechanically perfect, it increases your chances of doing well.”
The 61-year-old Haywood says that this will be his final drive in the Rolex 24 and he hopes to cap off his history in the Rolex 24 in grand style.
“We have a great team, we have a great driver lineup,” Haywood said. “This is going to be my last one here. I'm going to try really hard to make this my sixth time (winning the Rolex 24).”