Four-Driver Team Continues to Jell While Running Competitive Times
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 8, 2011) – It’s been so far, so good at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test at Daytona International Speedway for the No. 48 Marquis Jet/Paul Miller Racing Porsche GT3 team and its four drivers, Bryce Miller, Bryan Sellers, Tim Sugden and Rob Bell.
The No. 48 Porsche ended the second day of the three-day test once again comfortably inside the top 10 on the combined time charts with a best lap at 1:50.633 (115.842 mph), which was good for fourth in the GT class in the closing night session. But while it is obviously better to be toward the top of the time charts than the bottom, the main goal of this test is to establish a good working relationship among the team and the drivers, and prepare a car that will be strong for a full 24 hours in three weeks.
“It’s been good,” said Miller, the team’s lead driver. “We had a lot of changes that we made before coming here and we rolled in a little bit late the night before. Considering everything, we’ve had a really good rollout. We have a really good baseline to work from and we just keep chipping away. Right now we’re just focusing on trying to make the car comfortable more than anything, for a 24-hour race, and then the speed will follow after. We’re trying to learn the tire more as well.”
A lot has changed since the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona. The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 has moved to new Continental Tires for this season after utilizing Pirelli rubber for the past several seasons. In addition, the oval portion of the 3.56-mile Daytona road course – which makes up a significant portion of the circuit – has been completely repaved.
“It’s a lot more forgiving, that’s for sure,” Miller said. “The banking and the bus stop (chicane at the end of the back stretch) are both really a lot more forgiving. It’s not nearly as eventful on the banking, you can kind of chill out a little bit.”
The four Paul Miller Racing drivers have also been working throughout the test to establish the rapport needed between them to be successful. To a man, all of the drivers have their eyes on the ultimate prize rather than concerning themselves with individual accomplishments.
“I think as a group, the people we’re getting together are great,” said Sugden. “We’ve all done this type of thing many times, so there’s a nice feeling in the team. Everybody is comfortable with each other and we’ve all done this race before, or if we haven’t done this race before – like in Rob’s case – we’ve done plenty of other races like it. There’s a mutual respect thing, if you like, so it’s a very, very easygoing atmosphere in the team. We’re just working through things slowly. The car is quick. We’re just trying to make it quicker, obviously, but inherently, the car is quick.”
Sugden, Miller and Sellers all know what it’s like to be quick in a Porsche at Daytona, so their focus has largely centered on getting a comfortable racecar. Bell, meanwhile, made his first appearance on the high banks yesterday. It was an eye-opening experience, to be sure, but he’s having a good time so far.
“So far, so good,” Bell said. “It’s a fantastic facility and a brilliant place to be. Most of the time, in January, we’re not very busy as racing drivers so it’s a good time of year to be racing. It gets us sharp and it’s great to be testing two or three weeks before to be learning the circuit as well. I’ve not been here and the first time on the banking was a bit of an experience. I really enjoyed it, though. The thing is, as a racing driver, you enjoy a challenge. Having not done it before and experienced it now, it’s really, really good and exciting.”
The four drivers get one final chance to work together in Sunday’s test sessions at the Roar Before The Rolex 24. But the drivers are already confident in their chances when the green flag drops on the 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona at 3:30 p.m. ET on January 29.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be in some pretty good lineups, and to be honest, I feel like this one probably gives me one of the best chances to win that I’ve ever had,” Sellers said. “It’s pretty cool to be able to be with so many accomplished guys and to not have a weak link in the whole program. Sitting back and looking, hopefully we are a dark horse and hopefully we can make something happen. It’s certainly not a big-name program like some of the past winners, but it’s a great program and it’s put together well. Paul Miller has done his homework and made sure he’s got the right people and the right equipment to come and do the race, so I’m very excited.”
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.