The 50th running of the 24 Hours of Daytona will be held January 28-29, 2012. This is the longest and oldest 24-hour sports-car race in the U.S. For the first time Corvette will be competing in the top DP (Daytona Prototype) class.
A three-day test session was just completed, and 14 DP cars were on hand. The new Corvette DP captured the top five practice times during the test. The Corvette DPs looked and sounded spectacular and appeared to be a fan favorite.
Max Angelelli set the fastest time in his Sun Trust-sponsored #10 Corvette prototype, with a 1:41.142. Behind him were (in order, from second to fifth) the #99 Gainsco Corvette (1:41.541), the #9 Action Express Corvette (1:41.737), the #5 Action Express Corvette (1:41.781), and the #90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette (1:42.030).
ALMS Corvette drivers Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, Oliver Gavin, and Richard Westbrook all drive the Spirit of Daytona entry. One familiar name that was missing in the Spirit of Daytona lineup was Olivier Beretta. After eight years Beretta has left Corvette Racing to drive a Ferrari 458 Italia for Team Risi Competizione. In the GT category, Grand Am has allowed two European makes into the class: Ferrari and Audi. Both run FIA GT3 cars fitted with tiny rear wings and power-killing engine restrictors. At the end of the day the #63 Risi Ferrari 458 Italia held the quickest time of 1:49.239. (Olivier Beretta was one this car's drivers.)
The fastest Audi (#52) only managed a 1:51.084, but this car is likely to prove very competitive come race day. The fastest GM GT entry was the #88 Autohaus Camaro GT.R, which turned a 1:49.714.
One privately entered Corvette was well down in the order after experiencing an off-course accident that damaged the front of the car. The Michael Baughman Racing team is optimistic that the car will be repaired in time for the race.
Team VETTE will be at the Daytona 24-hour later this month, so stay tuned for coverage of what's sure to be an exciting race.