Team WRT is heading West this week to take part, for the second time in its history, to the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the mythical endurance race that opens the US season and is one of the most prestigious 24-hour race in motorsport history. Like last year, Team WRT is partnering with Speedstar Motorsports to field one Audi R8 LMS, with the support of Audi Canada. Audi Sport drivers Mirko Bortolotti and Dries Vanthoor, with the support of Rolf Ineichen and Daniel Morad, are building a top quartet that has the ambition to improve the podium finish (3rd) conquered last year in the GTD class by the Belgian-Canadian outfit.

International endurance racing at Daytona Speedway, located on the shores of the Atlantic Sea in Florida, started in 1962, relatively later with respect to other top races, but since its first edition in 1966, the Daytona 24 Hours has become one of the most prestigious fixtures in the category, often part of the World Championship, in its different denominations through history.

Its 5.730-km track is a compendium of very different sections, including some very distinct ones such as the banking and the infield, and the atmosphere, absolute unique. Ran under IMSA rules, the race has also its rules, which are an additional challenge for European teams.

At WRT, both Team Principal Vincent Vosse and Sporting Director Pierre Dieudonné have raced there as drivers and the latter can also claim an overall win as Team Manager in 2000. Their knowledge will be useful but even more valuable will be the experience of the WRT Speedstar’s drivers, as three of them are recent GTD winners. Canada’s Daniel Morad won in 2017, while Mirko Bortolotti and Rolf Ineichen were in the line-up taking the class in 2018-19. Dries Vanthoor took a podium finish in his (and WRT’s) first participation last year.

The ambition, this year, will be to fight for top honors, and the team was extremely satisfied with the preparation work done during the three-day “ROAR before Daytona” test earlier this month and the BoP adjustments introduced after the test go in the right direction, with a 10-kg reduction in weight for the Audi.

Pierre Dieudonné, Sporting Director: “This year, we aim at fighting for the win, but one has always to be very humble when approaching a 24-hour race. The competition is very strong, with some top teams very well supported by their respective brands. The tests went very well, we could cover a lot of mileage and find a good set-up for, and get adapted to Michelin tires, with which we don’t race often. As we have new drivers in the line-up, it was also a very good opportunity to have them working together. We also could familiarize with the specific requirements and procedures of this race. We are well prepared, let’s see what the week brings!”

Dries Vanthoor: “We have a strong team and a strong line-up, I think we should be able to do a good job. We go into the race week with very positive feelings. If we have a good strategy and a clear race, we can be fighting for victory.”

Mirko Bortolotti: “First of all, it is an honor to be given the chance to race in Daytona again, this time with an Audi R8 LMS. It is indeed a special place and race for me, given the success from the past two years. We are an amazing team, we prepared well and are ready to fight.”

Rolf Ineichen: “It’s great to be back to Daytona. I really have a special relationship with this race, which I have been contesting since 2014, and I simply love all of it: the format, the track, the drama and the atmosphere! On top, I have been quite successful there, with two GTD wins in the last two years, so it brings back terrific memories. It is going to be hard to conquer a third win in a row, but we’ll go for it, and the package that we have is really great.”

Daniel Morad: “All of the preparation leading up to the race week is complete and we are all excited to get our Audi R8 LMS on track.”

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar – Round 1
Rolex Daytona 24 Hours, Daytona, Fl., USA, 23-26 January 2020

Timetable (CET – 6)

Thursday 23 January 2020
10:05-11:05 Practice 1
13:00-14:15 Practice 2
16:15-16:30 Qualifying (GTD)
19:15-20:45 Practice 3 (night)

Friday 24 January 2020
09:50-10:50 Practice 4

Saturday 25 January 2020
13:35 Race start (24 hours)

Sunday 26 January 2020
13:35 Race finish

WRT Speedstar Audi Sport (Audi R8 LMS)
#88 Dries Vanthoor (BE) – Mirko Bortolotti (IT) – Rolf Ineichen (CH) – Daniel Morad (CA)

Photo: Jamey Price

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