January 2012

Happy New Year to everybody! We’re going to give this blog another year of some activity. It’s been great to meet so many of you readers; thanks for your feedback. That’s what keeps me pushing ahead on things like this and I hope to meet many more of you this coming season.

For me the off season was short but sweet. I really just shut down for the second part of December, got away from it all and spent time out on the water enjoying the warm weather in Florida. The Daytona pre-tests start early every year and this year was no exception. We were already on track by the sixth of January. This year we are back for another stab at the Rolex with Flying Lizard for a run at GT. The decision was to go back to GT after last year’s DP program because the rules weren’t very welcoming to the previous generation Daytona Prototypes and there weren’t any newly designed prototypes available. This year, it will be pretty special to be a part of the 50th anniversary and with that there’s a tremendous turnout of cars and drivers.

Also unique to this year’s Rolex quest is the partnership between Flying Lizard and Wright Motorsports. John’s team is out of Cincinnati and they have to be considered one of the best 911 shops in the country. I’ve had the chance to work with Wright over the years from his involvement in my World Challenge program over at Truspeed, but I also do quite a bit of coaching for his GT3 Challenge drivers in the IMSA Cup series and he’s become a great friend.

Our car is a 2010 GT3 Cup in Grand Am specs and with that we have a little bit more allowance on certain modifications to the car in places like the gearbox and aero. The 911 Cup has to be considered as the most proven formula in the field and with Flying Lizard and Wright behind the prep, we’re confident! The other interesting and fun addition is that Flying Lizard has decided to bring back one of their first drivers from 2004, a good friend of mine, Mike Rockenfeller. A lot of people are probably familiar with Mike in his current career in DTM and in the LMP1 class with Audi. It’s great to have him back, in part from the selfish standpoint of getting to spend some time with a good friend. Mike and I ran full time together in 2006 in the Grand Am with the Alex Job Ruby Tuesday Daytona Prototype. With Jörg and Seth completing the lineup, there’s a great camaraderie and Daytona is always a fun way and uniquely social way to start the season. It feels somewhat relaxed but once the green flag drops, you know we want to beat those other 45 cars and come away with another Rolex like 2009 brought.

The test went well for us. The pre-test is always a bit of a lottery in just getting clear laps, staying out of trouble and getting everybody up to speed. Mission was accomplished on all of those fronts and I think the Porsches are going to be pretty darn competitive for this quest for a watch on the 50th anniversary. I hope to see a bunch of you down there on the weekend of the 27th.

Once we get through Daytona, it’s time to start gearing up for the American Le Mans Series. We’re going to make another title push this year and we have a new “baby” coming over in the completely updated 911 RSR. I’ve heard great things from Weissach in all their testing with the new improved aerodynamics on the car. That’s something that we’ve really needed to get back up into striking distance after a pretty tough season in 2011. We’ll go down for the official winter tests on February 7-8-9 before we ship out to fitness camp for most of the month of February. The start of the season is always busy but the racing will really pick up in March when we kick off the AMLS season down at the Sebring 12-Hours. See you at the track!

Send your comments and questions to Patrick at askpatrick@pca.org. Although he can’t respond individually, he’ll get to as many as possible in his blog.