In addition to giving lead drivers Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson the opportunity to prepare the No. 76 Proto-Auto Lola-Ford for the Jan. 29-30 Rolex Series season opener, the recent Grand-Am tests at Daytona gave French veteran Nicolas Minassian the opportunity to drive at the track for the first time, ahead of his race debut in the Rolex 24.
"I really love it," Minassian said. "It's a very good track for this kind of racing. There is enough space for traffic, for overtaking. I think the banking is something special, something different. I love that. It's a one-of-a-kind sort of track. I enjoy every bit of everything. I'm happy."
Minassian drives for Team Peugeot, finishing second in the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans. Last year, his car had a mechanical failure while leading late in the race. He also formerly raced for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in Champ Car and the Indianapolis 500.
"Our new teammate, Nicolas Minassian, is a pure professional," Jonsson said. "He's easy going and got up to speed very quickly in the car. It's a great thing to have somebody with that experience, 24 hour experience more than anything, in the team, especially when it comes to the middle of the night during the Rolex 24. That's going to be very critical to have those guys that have been doing it before, and with success, are going to be plugging a big hole for us with Krohn Racing."
Owner/driver Krohn was very impressed with the repaving of Daytona.
"The track is much better since the repaving, and it is certainly a smoother ride," Krohn said. "You can put the car just about anywhere you want to on the banking. So that makes it more drivable. And there are some places you can put the car now that you couldn't put it before, which will make it more competitive. I'm not sure that the track is necessarily faster. I think we've got pretty good air right now. That gives us a little more horsepower, so we'll see how that is during the race.
"Our car is doing fine. We're working on getting a setup for the track and I think we've been chasing the track a little bit as we get more rubber down and get more grip, then have to change something else. I'm very pleased with the way the car is. It feels very solid on this track, very smooth. The infield is exactly the same, so that hasn't changed much except coming into Turn 1. It is much more drivable coming into Turn 1. There's a lot more you can do there. There's a lot more grip. They've taken the crown out of that turn. If you got too far left the car would handle one way. If you got too far right it handled another way. But if you were right in the middle, it was just unpredictable. That was interesting. Overall I think it is a more fun track to drive."
Krohn, Jonsson and Minassian will be joined at the Rolex 24 by Ricardo Zonta.