American Stars Miller and Sellers Team Up with British Champions Sugden and Bell
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 7, 2011) – Paul Miller Racing’s formidable foursome of drivers – Bryce Miller, Bryan Sellers, Tim Sugden and Rob Bell – got back to work today on their goal of taking the GT-class victory in the 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona at the end of this month by putting the No. 48 Marquis Jet/Paul Miller Racing Porsche GT3 through its testing paces today at Daytona International Speedway on the first day of the three-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 test.
Led by the 28-year-old Miller, who helped win the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 GT team championship as a rookie in 2007, the No. 48 lineup should rate among the GT-class favorites come race weekend on January 27-30. Miller is joined by a fellow rising American road racing star in Sellers, as well as accomplished UK sports car racers Sugden and Bell.
Bell is a two-time Le Mans Series champion, while Sugden is the 2005 worldwide Porsche Cup champion and a veteran of the Rolex 24 and 24 Hours of Le Mans. Miller finished second in the GT class in the 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona in a TRG Porsche and claimed his first career Rolex Series GT victory at Virginia International Raceway in 2007, while Sellers finished third in the 2008 Rolex 24 in another TRG entry and brings a wealth of road racing experience to the operation.
The podium results for both Miller and Sellers in ’08 make both drivers hungrier to move to the top step in 2010. Their efforts got off to a solid start today with consistent and competitive lap times.
“When you come so close in a race like the Rolex 24 with a second-place finish, it makes you want to get the win even more,” Miller said. “I haven’t been as close in the last two Rolex 24s but I really believe the team and drivers we have in place this year can get the job done.”
Sellers, 28, definitely got the job done today with the fourth-quickest GT lap of the afternoon session at 1:51.221 (115.230 mph). He is participating in his second test with the team this weekend, as he also participated in testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway last month, and has been pleased with the team’s progress thus far.
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress from Homestead to here,” Sellers said. “In Homestead, we kind of struggled with some imbalance issues in the car. The guys went back to the shop, and I did three laps today. It felt better in those three laps. We did a decent lap time, basically, with just kind of rolling the car out. This morning we did a little bit of shakedown stuff, really no car tuning, and then to come this afternoon and put in a decent lap time feels pretty good. I think we have a long way to go with the car to be able to improve to where we need to be, but starting off, I think everybody is pretty happy with where we’ve started.”
Sugden was in street clothes for today’s session, but he is already well familiar with his teammates. Like Miller and Sellers, Sugden was also part of the 2008 Rolex 24 TRG lineup and came home fourth. The former Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion also teamed with Miller and Bell in a GT2 Aston Martin Vantage in the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans and co-drove with Bell in the 2008 and 2009 Le Mans events.
“The Rolex 24 is simply one of the great classics every driver dreams of winning at least once,” Sugden said. “My view is that this race is often lost by one driving mistake at 3 o’clock in the morning. If not, then one team error or small car problem ends the collective dream for another year. With this team and such a truly amazing driver lineup, we have no compromises, and every single thing has been done to try to eliminate that one error. I think with this group of individuals we are going to Daytona with a real chance of victory.”
Bell, 31, will be making his first appearance in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2011, but he brings an impressive racing resume, which includes GT2 championships in the 2007 and 2008 LMS. He has competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the past four years and made four GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series starts in 2006 in a SAMAX Porsche.
“The Rolex 24 is an iconic event and I can’t wait to get started,” Bell said. “Twenty-four hour races are the pinnacle of GT and sports car racing and challenge both car and driver to the limit. Porsche have proven the car has the pace and reliability to win. Along with Bryce, Tim and Bryan, I think we have a line up to match anyone. We are going there to win.”
Bryce Miller and Paul Miller Racing may add additional Rolex Series races to its 2011 schedule, while participating in some additional American and international sports car endurance races.
Attached Photo: The No. 48 Marquis Jet/Paul Miller Racing Porsche GT3 returned to Daytona International Speedway for the Roar Before The Rolex 24 test. Credit: Bob Chapman