The leading 8Star Motorsports team has strengthened its Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona line-up, with Rob Huff, Tom Kimber-Smith, Michael Marsal and Enzo Potolicchio all set to pilot the Florida-based outfit’s ORECA FML09 LMPC prototype (23-26 January).
The 24 Hours of Daytona acts as the opening round of the 2013 International Motor Sport Association (IMSA) TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, an amalgamation of the Grand-Am and American Le Mans Series’.
All four of 8Star’s drivers return to Daytona International Speedway fresh from the “Roar Before the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona” test, which served as a precursor to the legendary 24-hour enduro and the first opportunity for teams and drivers to acclimatise to the championship’s newly revised regulations.
Huff – the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Champion – has made an instant impact in the endurance racing scene after taking an emphatic race win in the 2013 25 Hours of Thunderhill in December and achieving a podium finish in the Dubai 24 Hours earlier this month.
The OCC LASIK-backed Briton has been inspired by his recent successes and hopes to carry some momentum back to American shores and into the 24 Hours of Daytona.
“I’m excited to be making my 24 Hours of Daytona debut,” said Huff. “The limited running I gained during the “Roar” test was certainly enough to whet my appetite and I cannot wait to get behind the wheel of 8Star Motorsport’s ORECA prototype. Having had a recent run of success in endurance racing, I’m hoping to carry a bit of momentum to Daytona. Having said that, I know it’s going to be a challenging race and that the competition is of a high standard, so I take nothing for granted.”
Kimber-Smith, meanwhile, brings with him a wealth of experience and success in endurance racing, having notched up wins in the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours, as well as Le Mans Series (LMS) championship titles.
The 29-year old Briton had a productive outing in the “Roar” test and is particularly eager to rekindle his winning partnership with 8Star driver and team owner Enzo Potolicchio in the TUDOR Championship.
“It’s great to be going back to the Daytona 24 Hours,” said Kimber-Smith. “It’s a hard race with a lot of heritage and I’ll be reuniting with my good friend Enzo (Potolicchio) with whom I won the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours. I’m also looking forward to having Michael Marsal and Rob Huff in the team. We have a very strong line-up with a lot of experience. The team is awesome and if we all do our jobs and hit our marks, we will achieve a great result.”
Marsal has recently clocked-up countless laps as part of the Caterham SP/300R development team and this experience, coupled with his various GT and LMP1 successes should serve the 25-year old New Yorker well in the opening round of the TUDOR Championship at Daytona International Speedway.
“I was glad to be able to acclimatise to the car and get comfortable with the 8Star Motorsports team during the “Roar” test,” said Marsal. “With a bumper grid of more than 60 cars, traffic is going to be an issue every single lap. Racing an LMPC car will be interesting because we are between the LMP2 prototypes and the GT cars – we will have to be looking out front as well as behind.
“The PC car is pretty straight forward and a lot of fun to drive. Coming from P1 machinery into a PC car wasn’t such a shock, as they both have similar capabilities and that helped me settle in more quickly, although it is certainly different to be in an open-top car again!”
8Star Motorsports Team Manager, Gary Neal, concluded: “The 24 Hours of Daytona is the opening round of the inaugural TUDOR Championship season and having such a formidable and talented driver line-up fills me with optimism. We arrive at Daytona off the back of a very productive “Roar” test, which followed a highly positive end to the 2013 season with the ORECA FML09 prototype.
“With such a significant change to the regulations there’s a lot of uncertainty and each team from every class faces a huge challenge, but I hope we can win or, at the very least, scale the podium. While we’re not a seasoned team, we have a professional and capable group of people who bring years of experience with them. We really feel that we have a handle on the car and we made good progress at the “Roar” test, which boosted our confidence. However, the field is very competitive and there are a lot of variables to consider, particularly where strategies are concerned. It’s all to play for!”