Olly and his three Spirit of Daytona Racing team mates, Antonio Garcia, Richard Westbrook and Jan Magnussen, today completed a very successful three-day test session at Daytona International Speedway. The Roar before the Rolex 24 was the last opportunity for them to test their new Corvette-bodied Daytona Prototype before the 50th Anniversary running of the 24-hour event from 26-29th January.
The four drivers, who are also all team mates within Corvette Racing’s American Le Mans Series programme, were buoyed by a positive Grand-Am Rolex Series test in their new car and their pace and performance kept them within the top five in nearly all the sessions held over the three-day test.
Oliver commented: “I’m pretty happy with how things have gone as we’ve shown ourselves to be competitive, we have a great driver line up, and the Spirit of Daytona team is getting to grips with a car which is still very new to them. We’re heading into the race reasonably confident but, as always with 24 hour races, we know that while pace is important, success often comes down to how smart you are.”
The 39-year-old multiple GT1 endurance champion continued, “I think that being smart will be more important than ever this year because there’s such a big GT field and several DP cars which are very new to their teams. With a car that’s a known quantity, teams can make very rapid bodywork changes in the pits, for example, if there’s an issue but with a new car no one is really sure how long these things will take.
“We’ve really got to be on top of what we’re doing on the track, the calls we make and how we deal with 45 GT cars which include a lot of very strong and professional teams. As a DP driver, you’re going to come across big groups of GTs racing together and the speed differential between the top GTs and the DPs isn’t that great on the banking and on the straight. You’re only looking at maybe 8 or 9 miles an hour difference, which isn’t that much, so you’ve really got to plan tactically on how to pass and get round them. You will have to pick your spots carefully and take great care to protect your car and position.”
Oliver will be returning to Daytona at the end of January for the Rolex 24 Hours, practice for which begins on 26th January. The race begins at 3:30pm (EST) on 28th January.