Daytona Beach, Fla. (21 January 2014) – With international interest at an all-time high and a brand new championship to fight for, the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona is poised to be a watershed event.
This weekend’s Rolex 24 At Daytona will mark the launch of the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, with a full range of new competition on hand as well as the deployment of a new set of technical rules.
But for Spirit of Daytona Racing and its drivers Richard Westbrook (UK), Michael Valiante (Canada), and Mike Rockenfeller (Germany), the goal remains as simple as it always has been.
“We have to do every single lap that we can possibly can to have a chance at this championship–and that starts with the Rolex 24 this weekend,” said Team Owner Troy Flis. “There is no question with a new championship and new rules, that we’ve all got a lot to adjust to. But the fact is that the teams that do the best job of maximizing the package that they’ve got are the ones that we will be hearing about this year and every person on this team has been working their tails off to put us in that position.”
2014 sees a new technical package for the top Prototype class, which Spirit of Daytona Racing will once again compete in. The new rules see the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP not only enjoy more power from the Chevrolet powerplant, but also increased downforce for better cornering speeds. The 2014 TUDOR championship will feature four different classes and with nearly 70 cars doing battle throughout the race, traffic will play a major factor throughout the entire 24 hours.
Where there are a lot of new elements in play for the 2014 season, Spirit of Daytona is pleased to enter the year by building on some critical team partnerships with Chevrolet, VisitFlorida.com, and GoPro. The comfort level is also high with the stellar driver line up for Spirit of Daytona, as full-season pilots Valiante and Westbrook, who won together in 2012 for Spirit of Daytona Racing at Mid-Ohio, will team with 2010 Rolex 24 Winner Mike Rockenfeller in this year’s race.
“My expectations of 2014 and the TUDOR Championship is that there is going to be a lot of learning going on,” added Flis. “Between the teams, the sanctioning bodies, the rules combining and all of the logistics and everything I think it is definitely going to be a learning year for everybody. But I am excited! I think the commercial side of it is going to grow tremendously which is going to help all of the teams. We have a great opportunity and if we can get it in front of the right people I think it is going to be a huge advantage.”
VISIT FLORIDA, which serves as the state’s official source for travel planning, offers valuable travel planning resources to visitors on all there is to see and do in Florida through its award-winning website VISITFLORIDA.com. The 2014 season opens with two Florida-based races (Rolex 24 and Sebring 12 Hours) before the team starts a cross-country and international schedule proudly carrying the VISIT FLORIDA colors.
Michael Valiante: “I’m really happy to be back with the team and working with Richard and Troy and everyone else that I worked with in 2012. The car has been running really well, we haven’t had too many issues. It’s been quick, which is great. We have just been trying to learn some of the new rules. We have a great driver line up with Rockenfeller joining us. The race is going to be a lottery with all of the new rules and a lot more cars. The most important thing will be reliability and staying out of trouble.”
Mike Rockenfeller: “I think the 24 is going to be a great race for the fans. There are going to be a lot of different cars on track and it’s cool that the cars each have different strengths. For example the LMP cars are a lot faster on the corners, as they should be, but they are slower on the straight to make the same lap time and I think that is fascinating for people. In my opinion I think it is the right thing to have the two series combine and now it is up to the series to make it a good race atmosphere. Of course it will take some time, people have to understand that we will have to find the right balance of performance between the cars. But once that is done I think it is going to be a great future for endurance racing in America and for me it is great to be a part of this historic first race together.”
Richard Westbrook: “We’ve got the testing in the books, and I am ready to run the race now. We have been working on performance side for the last three years and that has gone great, but now we have to do all of the other preparation now. We have to make sure we are there and ready to fight for the win come2 o’clock on Sunday.”