Marquis Jet/IPC/TOTAL Porsche Shows Plenty of Speed in Three-Day Test

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 9, 2011) – After three days of testing at the Roar Before The Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, it appears that Paul Miller Racing’s No. 48 Marquis Jet/IPC/TOTAL Porsche GT3 and drivers Bryce Miller, Bryan Sellers, Tim Sugden and Rob Bell are well positioned for success in three weeks for the 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 27-30.

The white and black No. 48 Porsche showed plenty of speed throughout the test, including in the team’s final on-track appearance of the test on Sunday morning when the car posted its fastest lap of the test and ranked second on the GT speed charts in the early Sunday session at 1:50.410 (116.076 mph).

The team loaded up and headed back to its suburban Atlanta headquarters after the Sunday morning session, opting to forego the final Roar Before The Rolex 24 test session due to inclement weather, and will get to work prepping the car for the race immediately upon their arrival back at the race shop.

“A lot of the preparation that goes on between now and the race will happen in the shop and with the crew,” said Bryce Miller, the team’s lead driver. “There will be new components going into the car, lifing the parts properly and things like that will be important.

“It’s all been planned now for months, so everything is in order there. I’m just glad we were able to come away from the test with a setup that we feel we can work with going into the Daytona week. The guys have the confidence to know that the car is good. We don’t really have to stretch or make any large risks in terms of what we’re doing with the car anymore. That’s a good thing.”

Team owner Paul Miller, who is Bryce Miller’s father, knows a thing or two about success in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. He drove in nine Rolex 24s in the 1970s and ‘80s, and scored a GTO-class victory in a Merkur XR4Ti in 1988. He is clearly pleased with what he’s seen over the past three days at Daytona.

“What’s really exciting to me is we really have a very solid driver lineup,” said Paul Miller. “I really expect all the drivers to be within a few tenths of each other. There is so much confidence among everybody in the team about the drivers in this car. It’s not like there’s a big drop off to someone. That’s one of the reasons we’re excited. We have a lot in hand here, the way we’ve approached this test.

“The car is very good, very drivable, very comfortable and that’s really what we’ve been striving for is a car that will go the distance in the race. There has been a lot of continuity in this crew over a long period of time. (Team manager and crew chief) Kurt (Keitel)’s done a good job of putting together a bunch of good-hearted guys and hard-working guys. There’s a lot of creativity here and we think we really have the makings of a successful effort. Barring an unexplained failure, we think we have a real shot.”

All of the team’s drivers echo Paul Miller’s sentiments. They all truly believe that theirs is one of the strongest – if not THE strongest – driver lineups from top to bottom in the GT class for this year’s Rolex 24.

“There’s no doubt that from a drivers point of view, we’ve got arguably the best lineup in the class,” Sugden said. “If you look at all the lineups, there are some fantastic drivers here, but if you look at the lineups, there are three fantastic drivers in with a gentleman or two gentlemen, or there are four fantastic drivers and one guy that maybe might let them down. We’ve got four good, solid, quick, reliable drivers, so we’ve got every chance that there is.”

With confidence in the driver lineup and the balance of the racecar, the teammates know that the real key to their success in the Rolex 24 will be their ability to remain consistent and stay out of trouble. That may be easier said than done at times, but they’re already thinking about staying clean come race week.

“It’s more about pre-empting other people’s mistakes, because you can see other people on the racetrack and you can see some people are trying harder than others and some people are struggling more than others,” Bell said. “You’ve kind of got to do your thing but have the mental awareness to anticipate, ‘OK, there are three guys going into the bus stop (chicane at the end of the back straight at Daytona) here, they’re not all going to make it, so I’m going to back off and make sure I get through without any problems.’ That’s the thing. You’ve got to pre-empt other people’s mistakes and that’s something I look at quite heavily to bring the car home.”

“You can’t win the 24 if you’re not there in the 24th hour,” Sellers added. “With that said, you still have to be fast and you still have to do good numbers, but when in doubt, you just have to make sure you’re there in contention for the end. I’ve been in the position where we’ve led the race by three laps and lost. You have to be there at the end.

“You can’t let the competition dictate what you can do. You have to be able to run what you can run consistently and not try to do more than what you have, because that’s when you start to get yourself in trouble.”

The team and drivers managed to avoid any major trouble over the past three days at Daytona and had what can only be classified as a successful test. They’re heading home with great momentum and are focused on keeping it going over the next three weeks and all the way through the Rolex 24.

“A lot of the people that normally would not always be in the shop will be in the shop now, just because of the time frame,” concluded Bryce Miller. “The three weeks is kind of a limited time frame to do the things we want to do properly, so it’s a good opportunity for the team to continue the momentum, because we need the manpower in the shop. It’ll bring everyone together and hopefully everything goes in the shop as it’s gone here and we can keep the momentum going.”

Next up for the team will be the 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 27-30. The race takes the green flag at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 29, with several hours of live television coverage airing on SPEED beginning at 3 p.m. ET on January 29 and resuming at 9 a.m. ET on January 30.

Paul Miller Racing is among the top GT-style teams competing in North American sports car road racing. In 2011, the team will contest the full American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, with spotlight appearances in other major international endurance events. The team enjoys a long-standing relationship with Porsche and competes with the support of four international sponsors in Marquis Jet, Grand Prix Racewear, IPC Information Systems and TOTAL Lubricants.

Attached Photo:  The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Porsche was plenty competitive in the Roar Before The Rolex 24 test at Daytona. Credit:  Bob Chapman