by topping both days’ unofficial time sheets
Felipe Nasr, 2012 Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge winner and Cooper Tires British Formula 3 champion, flew to Daytona International Speedway for his first Daytona Prototype test in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the legendary Rolex 24 At Daytona.
A trio of new Corvette Daytona Prototypes shared the spotlight, with new cars from Ferrari and Audi, as a two-day GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series test opened at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) in preparation for the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, on January 28th-29th 2012.
To ensure that Felipe got up to speed quickly, front running team Action Express had prepared their No.5 Riley/Porsche Daytona Prototype; which in the hands of Darren Law and David Donohue finished third overall in the 2011 Rolex series, for exclusive use by Nasr.
Action Express also had a pair of new Corvette DP’s, the No. 5 for David Donohue and Darren Law, joining the No. 9 of Joao Barbosa, Terry Borcheller and JC France. Felipe had been going to test the No. 5 but the numbers were changed to the new corvette meaning it was in fact the No. 58 Action Express Porsche/Riley Nasr drove.
Monday saw Felipe Nasr get his first ever look at the track when he was shown around by DIS President Joie Chitwood III. Nasr also met Ozz Negri who not only acted as his mentor this week but also will be throughout the Challenge experience.
“When I first saw the track I was amazed by how nice it is; it’s such an historical place and to be part of it is amazing.” Felipe Nasr
The first day of testing (Tuesday) saw Nasr waste no time getting up to speed, as the Challenge winner stole the spotlight in the DP session and unofficially topped the time sheets going quicker than all regular DP drivers at 1:41.286. Second fastest was Ryan Dalziel with a time of 1:41.335.
“I was expecting the DP to be quite lazy and heavy and not as quick as my F3 car but I was impressed as it was completely different to what I thought! The first time I came out of the pits and put my foot down I thought, wow this thing can really move! I was laughing to myself at how fun the track was to drive when I first hit the track – I couldn’t quite believe it.” Felipe Nasr
Wednesday was also a fantastic session for Felipe as he continued to impress by turning in the fastest unofficial lap of the test, 1:40.438 – over a second quicker than Darren Law who was second quickest that day with a time of 1:41.687.
“Felipe is a phenomenal driver and a pleasure to work with and I am looking forward to seeing him again. We weren’t sure what to expect but Felipe has the demeanour and judgement of a very experienced driver. His speed is very impressive.” Elton Sayer, Action Express Team Manager
“It’s been great fun! Felipe has done over 500 miles faultlessly, he gives great feedback. He has not put a wheel wrong and I tried to wear him out but failed! He is super smooth, good on tyres and has done a wonderful job. He was fastest yesterday by 5 hundreds of a second, we made some changes to make him more comfortable and he responded by going 7 tenths faster today. He has been beautifully consistent – a very successful day.” Duncan Charnell, Chief Mechanic of the DP
“This is just the beginning and it’s already been a fantastic experience. The Challenge really is a great opportunity from Sunoco and such a fantastic opportunity for a driver who wants to make it professionally. Now I’m just really looking forward to the next test and the race itself. Having Ozz here has helped me a lot and he’s been telling me the secrets of the track! He really was amazing and I couldn’t ask for any more help.” Felipe Nasr
"I had an idea of how good Felipe would be, it is not just anyone that can win the British F3 Championship but I have to say that surpassed my expectations, he is the real deal, a F1 material for sure. He has the speed and also the maturity, did not put a foot wrong and was on the top of the timing charts for the two test days. The Sunoco Challenge prize could not be on better hands." Ozz Negri
The next test session will be the ‘Roar before the Rolex 24 test’ at Daytona International Speedway on 5th- 8th January 2012.