Another Ferrari for the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona has been announced with Michael Waltrip Racing and AF Corse again teaming up for a major sports car race. The AF Waltrip Racing partnership will field a 458 for Michael Waltrip, Rob Kauffman, Rui Aguas and Travis Pastrana in the 2012 event.
MWR and AF Corse paired for the trio's debut in the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans in an F458 Italia, with Kauffman and Aguas also running at last year's Petit Le Mans in an AF Corse-entered GTE Am Ferrari F430 GT with Justin Bell – Waltrip had prior commitments. The Kauffman/Aguas/Bell entry finished third in class at Petit.
The 458 in Grand-Am specifications is a different car from the F458 that ran at Le Mans, so it's a new car to sort out for the effort. The driver trio minus Pastrana will be testing at this week's series test at Daytona, but in a TRG-entered Porsche GT3 Cup car.
Waltrip is one of Daytona's most successful drivers on the oval, of course, with two Daytona 500 victories in 2001 and 2003 and his most recent victory coming in the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series opener this past February. Pastrana, who is beginning his own NASCAR career for more events under the Pastrana Waltrip Racing nomenclature in 2012, adds a star name to the field.
“My racing career will forever be linked to Daytona, because it was defined on those high banks,” Waltrip said. “I've raced at Daytona for 25 years and I can't wait to turn left at the end of pit road and race through the infield for the first time. It will be special to share this experience with Rob, Rui and Travis.”
“We have been looking at expanding the organization in the sports car world and this is a great next step," said Kauffman, Waltrip's business partner in MWR. “The Rolex 24 At Daytona is a world class event with huge historic relevance in motor sports, and bringing a Ferrari to the 50th running is a terrific opportunity. We raced Petit Le Mans and Le Mans itself this year, and plan to increase our presence in North American road racing.”
The team did not announce whether they will run any other Rolex Series events in 2012, but it stands to reason they could enter the remaining rounds of the three-race North American Endurance Championship at the six hours of Watkins Glen and the three hours on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.