As title defender and the most successful manufacturer in the history of the Daytona 24 hour race, Porsche returns to the long distance classic in Florida on the last weekend in January with yet another strong line-up. Spearheading the con-tingent is the Porsche Riley of Brumos Racing, who last year pocketed the 21st over-all victory for Porsche. At the time-honoured season-opener of the American Grand-Am Series, a total of six Porsche works drivers compete for various customer teams.
Traditionally, Porsche is well represented with the 911 GT3 Cup in the fiercely-contested GT class. Last year’s winners Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) have good chances to again grab victory. The Porsche factory pilots share driving duties with Seth Neiman (USA) and Johannes van Overbeek (USA) for the TRG/Flying Lizard Motorsports team. “This race is a fantastic start to the new season,” says Joerg Bergmeister. “In Daytona, drivers gather from a wide range of race series and that makes it particularly exciting.”
TRG brings two 911 GT3 Cup racers for Porsche factory pilot Wolf Henzler (Germany, #66), and his works driver colleagues Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France, both starting number 71) to tackle the long distance classic that was run for the first time in 1962. Their factory driver colleague Richard Lietz (Austria) competes for Magnus Racing, teaming up with the winner of the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup, Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands). Porsche claimed its first vic-tory at Daytona back in 1968 with Vic Elford, Jochen Neerpasch, Rolf Stommelen, Jo Siffert and Hans Herrmann at the wheel of the Porsche 907.
Porsche Daytona Prototype Racing
In the Daytona Prototype class, Brumos Racing is again regarded as one of the fa-vourites for overall victory. At the wheel of the Porsche Riley run by the successful customer team based in Jacksonville/Florida sit David Donohue (USA) and Darren Law (USA) with Hurley Haywood (USA), Butch Leitzinger (USA) and Raphael Matos (USA). Joao Barbosa (Portugal), who last year clinched third at Daytona with Brumos Racing, now drives the Porsche Riley of Action Express Racing – with Audi works driver Mike Rockenfeller as one of his team mates. The Spirit of Daytona Racing squad fields the third Porsche-powered prototype. With former Indy500 champion Buddy Rice (USA) and Antonio Garcia (Spain), one of last year’s winning drivers in the Brumos quartet, this team also has a top class driver line-up.
One driver, however, travels to the 48th running of the long distance classic in Amer-ica’s sunshine state with a touch of melancholy: For Hurley Haywood, one of the most successful sports car pilots in the world, this is the last time he contests his favorite race. “At some point you have to step aside and make room for younger and faster drivers,” says the five-time Daytona victor and multiple winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours and the 12 Hours of Sebring for Porsche. On 4th May he celebrates his 62nd birthday. For his Daytona farewell he has one wish: “It would be wonderful to close this chapter of my life with a victory.”
The 24 Hours of Daytona takes off on Saturday, 30th January, at 15.30 hours local time (21.30 hours CET). Stay Tuned to Porsche Purist all week for more Daytona coverage including interviews with last year's winner David Donohue and live race coverage.