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Daytona Prototypes take the test
If there was anything to be learned from the preliminary Daytona Prototype test
session at the Homestead Motorsport complex just south of Miami the weekend
before Christmas it was that Grand Am officials have achieved parity for the top
class in the Rolex-backed sports car championship chase.

On hand in the windy, cold conditions, were eight of the DP coupes, including the
Bell Motorsports entered Chevrolet Doran of 2003 DP title winner Terry Borcheller
and his car owner, Forest Barber, who are scheduled to run in the Rolex 24 at the
end of next month with former CART star and current Nextel Cup driver, Christian

Although quickest on the opening day, Friday, the Bell camp was brought back
towards the reality of 2004 Saturday when they installed the somewhat smaller
650 carb mandated for all Chevrolet V-8 powerplants this coming season. Even
so, they stayed within a few tenths of the times posted by their fellow travelers, all
of which were in the mid 1.14's around the revised high-banked and infield road
course circuit.

Absolutely Fab
Surprisingly, one of the fastest was the Brumos Red Bull Porsche Fabcar of David
Donohue and his 2004 partner Darren Law. Although a duplicate of the Red Bull
entry Donohue ran at Daytona in this past fall's Grand Am finale, the Fabcar at
Homestead was brand new, the 2003 example being held in reserve for the

Likewise present was the refurbished Brumos mount of Hurley Haywood and JC
France, which had just returned from the Fabcar shops following gentle
massaging by Fabcar boss Dave Klym. Unlike their teammates, neither Haywood,
nor France pushed the limits, staying in the 1:15 bracket through mid-day

One of the most watched of the cars on hand was the new Chevy-powered
Crawford, which was just a little more than a tenth of a second slower than
Donohue and Law with Andy Wallace at the wheel. The first of the "second
generation" Daytona Prototypes to appear, the Crawford belonging to David Brule,
who will co-drive it a Daytona with Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes Robinson, is
one of three slated to race in the Rolex series next year.

The second Crawford, purchased by former American GT top gun, Doug Goad,
was slated for its initial shakedown in South Carolina's Kershaw track on Monday,
December 22nd with EFR doing the honors. As for the third of the new coupes, its
future remains somewhat of a mystery with suggestions that it will run as a
"house car" with a pair of Nextel Cup contenders in the Rolex 24. Still, even though
there are suggestions that the "deal" is near completion, nothing has yet been
officially announced.

Really Riley and the Insect Trust
Not present at Homestead was the new Riley, two examples of which have been
purchased by Chip Ganassi's Toyota team, with a third going to Wayne Taylor's
Sun Trust Motorsports operation using Chevy power. Although they have yet to
appear, the betting is that the Riley design will, like the Crawford, be an immediate
threat in the 24-Hour season opener.

As for the new DP entry from Chase that was slated to take part in the Homestead
festivities in the hands of the Silverstone team, it was judged not "quite ready for
Prime Time," and went back home for additional finishing work. The expectation is
that it, along with the Riley contingent, will be ready to take part in the post New
Years weekend Daytona test session, January 2-4.

Meanwhile… back at the ranch
Meanwhile, on the American Le Mans Series front, the bench racing experts are
saying that presumed championship contender Champion Racing will field just a
single Audi R8 Turbo for 2004 titles Marco Werner and JJ Lehto instead of the two
R8's previously reported. The chief competition for South Florida-based Champion
should come from the two Dyson Racing Lolas which were, despite their smaller
Judd-built engines, fully capable of running with the Audi V-8 fleet in 2003.

Look for Chris Dyson, and possibly his dad, team owner Rob Dyson, to be joined
by Leitzinger and Wallace when the green flag drops on the annual Sebring 12-
Hour affair the third week in March. If the ALMS is to be a bit shy in terms of
prototypes for 2004, there should be no shortage of competition among the
production car set.

In GTS, Britain's Prodrive operation which fielded the Ferrari 550's that so be-
deviled the Corvettes last year, is scheduled to oversee the new Aston Martins in
2004. The Corvettes, which have switched to Michelin Tires from Goodyear for the
coming season, will still have to face a brace of the Ferraris, as well as the new
British challengers, making GTS a potential thriller for fans.

Job’s Done
In the GT category, there it should be a straight fight between the improving Ferrari
360's and the newly introduced Porsche 911 GT3 RSR's, the latest edition of the
German brand's long running production car dominator. Still, Porsche's
designated ALMS "factory" team, Alex Job Racing, will have to do without its two
time ALMS co-champions, Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr who will stay in
Europe for 2004. Among their rumored Job replacements is American newcomer
Patrick Long, pulled from the Red Bull open wheel ranks by Porsche in 2003.

Returning to Job, though, will be Porsche factory teammates Timo Bernhard and
Jorg Bergmeister. As for Job's opposition, Kevin Buckler is said to be ready to step
out of his Racers Group GT3RSR and become a fulltime team manager on the
ALMS tour, while at the same time keeping is driving skills up in the Grand Am,
where last year, he, Bernhard, Bergmeister and Michael Schrom, won the Rolex
24 outright.

My Maserati does 185
For Buckler and Porsche, there may well be a new name to contend with in both
the Grand Am and the ALMS: Maserati. Insiders say that two of the Ferrari owned
marque could appear at the Rolex 24, while one could be at Sebring. Regardless,
there seems a shift towards the production cars in the Don Panoz tour, while the
Grand Am remains wedded to its Daytona Prototype concept, providing an
interesting contrast, regardless of the on track outcome.

Bill Oursler

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