The 8Star Motorsports Corvette DP team's loss is rival Corvette DP team Spirit of Daytona's gain as Canadian sports car ace Michael Valiante has been signed to drive the No. 90 entry next season. He's expected to partner with GM factory driver Richard Westbrook, whose announcement could come later in the week
SDR owner Troy Flis wasted little time securing Valiante's services when Ricky Taylor left the team after one season to return to his father's Wayne Taylor Racing squad, which claimed the 2013 DP title.
The vacancy at SDR aligned perfectly with Valiante's unexpected availability. As 8Star owner Enzo Potolicchio told RACER in September, he intended to sign Rolex Series regular Valiante to drive for the team in 2014, but with recent news of 8Star's reduced plans, the 33-year-old found himself back on the market and ready for a return to SDR where he make select appearances in 2012.
“Michael did a great job for us in 2012, and we are really excited for him to race with us full time next season,” said Flis. “I think having him back, as well as with some of the changes we are looking at for our program, we should not only come out of the box much stronger, but we will hopefully be able to develop a championship-contending campaign with our VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP. New tracks, new rules, new races – there are a ton of new challenges for us to adjust to this year and we want to be in a position to maximize our opportunity.”
Valiante echoed his team owner's sentiments.
“I'm really happy to have the full-season program already in place and to be coming back to Spirit of Daytona Racing,” he said. “Testing with our Corvette DP is just a couple of weeks away now, and there is a lot of work to be done. So it is a good feeling to have our plans in place, and to be able to now focus on what we need to do to be ready to go at Daytona in January.”
Provided Flis is able to secure Westbrook for his third consecutive year with the team, SDR would have another rapid duo to try and improve upon their disappointing season that that drew to a close in September.