USRRC: GT2 Champion to Earn Daytona Sports Car of the Year
12 January 1999DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-Bolstered with new factory-supported and independent entries in the United States Road Racing Championship's top GT category, Daytona International Speedway will present the GT2 class-winning manufacturer with the Daytona "Sports Car of the Year" award at the conclusion of the 1999 Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 31.
GT2 is the top Rolex 24 class in the GT category, designed for production-based sports cars with race modifications. Competing models in this year's event include the Porsche 911 twin-turbo, Dodge Viper, Saleen Mustang and limited-run European production cars such as the Lister Storm and Marcos. Chevrolet will also be represented with the debut of its brand-new Corvette C5-R.
Chevrolet's factory Corvette team leads the resurgence of GT2, a class overshadowed in past years by the now obsolete GT1 class. Entries for the round-the-clock classic are currently at 20up from 10 GT2 entries one year ago.
"The Daytona Sports Car of the Year' award further legitimizes the GT2 class to manufacturers and provdes them a rationale to participate with us," said Alan Wilson, Executive Director of the USRRC, which organizes the Rolex 24 At Daytona. "These are essentially the same cars that they are selling in the showroom.
"The Daytona Sports Car of the Year' award brings added prestige and recognition to the winning GT2 manufacturer," continued Wilson. "Winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona is a fantastic accomplishmentnot only for the drivers and teams, but for the cars themselves. The winning manufacturer now has an official title and honor in addition to simple bragging rights, which could prove to be a significant marketing tool for the recipient."
Corvette Racing's two entries headline the early GT2 field, with top sports car racers Ron Fellows, John Heinricy, Chris Kneifel and Andy Pilgrim, joined by 1998 Indy Racing League race-winners John Paul Jr. and Scott Sharp slated as the driving corps.
Other early entries include two privateer Dodge Viper GTS-Rs from Chamberlain Engineering (who finished third in 1998) and NP Racing; one Acura NSX; one Lister Storm; one Marcos; one Mazda RX-7 from 1998 USRRC GT2 Champions Pettit Racing; European Porsche 911 GT2 turbo entries from 1998 race-winner Konrad Motorsport, Haberthur Racing, Freisinger Motorsport, Proton Competition and Seikel Motorsport; and U.S.-based Porsche entries from G&W Motorsports and three-time PSCR GT2 champion Schumacher Racing. Porsches took three of the top-four spots in 1998, with the class winner finishing fourth overall.
This year's Rolex 24 At Daytona kicks off with the annual Test Days January 9-11, followed by the 37th running of the classic January 30-31.