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USRRC: Rolex 24 at Daytona Entries Being Accepted; New Rules for the 'Round the Clock Classic

20 November 1998

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Entry form packets have been mailed and entries are now being accepted for the 37th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona, scheduled for January 30-31, 1999. For the second-straight year, the United States Road Racing Championship will organize and administer America's most prestigious sports car race.

New rules and a new class have been developed for the classic endurance event, reflecting the new direction being taken by the USRRC in its Can-Am and GT racing series.

Can-Am class rules include new engine eligibility; emphasize stability and cost control

Regulations for the leading Can-Am class have been restructured to ensure compatibility with Europe's fast-growing International Sports Racing Series -- a development of IMSA's original WSC concept that has been a feature of North American sports car racing since 1994. These new regulations use air restrictors to provide a stable and consistent method of ensuring performance equality across a wide range of configurations including turbocharged engines, which have not competed in a prototype class at Daytona since 1993. Cost control rules have also been adopted to prevent price escalation which has plagued previous international rules structures.

"The new engine rules and price control will go a long way toward maintaining the stability of the class," said Alan Wilson, General Manager of the USRRC. "In contrast to the huge costs that teams will have to face to stay competitive in other racing series, these rules allow competitors to invest in equipment that will stay competitive for several seasons, will ensure close racing and will enable North American sports car racing to rebuild itself to the level of public interest and support it had in the 1980s."

GT2 replaces GT1 as the leading sports car class

A major change for the 1999 event will be the absence of a GT1 class, which has been excluded from the USRRC Championship.

"While GT1 cars are spectacular, and have been a popular feature of past Rolex 24 At Daytona events, the reality is that there has been little interest shown by manufacturers or private teams in supporting this class.," added Wilson. "With fewer than five cars indicating any interest in competing -- and then only with older equipment -- we have decided to concentrate on developing our GT2 class into the lead GT category." This decision to eliminate the European GT1 cars has been substantiated by a growing, worldwide commitment to GT2 by the FIA and other promoters as well as the interest shown by major manufacturers in developing new GT2 machinery.

"We are very excited to learn that Chevrolet has chosen to debut its new Corvette C5-R GT2 car at the Rolex 24 At Daytona," said Bob Snodgrass, USRRC Chairman of the Board. "North American sports car racing has missed the involvement of major manufacturers such as Chevrolet and Chrysler over the past few years. We're excited about the potential impact on sports car racing created by the battle for sports car supremacy between the Corvettes, the FIA GT-winning Dodge Vipers, perennial Daytona-winning Porsches, Saleen Mustangs and European Listers and Marcos."

Stability for GT3 plus additional cars

Rules for the GT3 class remain the same for Daytona as in 1998, although the category has been opened to include SCCA's World Challenge T1 cars such as the Viper, Acura NSX and Saleen Mustang. These cars are closer to street performance than their GT2 counterparts, and are allowed slick tires, wings and GT3-spec brakes in addition to the World Challenge regulations. A large number of entries are expected for the GT3 class, including many from Europe.

Tube Frame cars get their own class

A new class, GTT, has been created for the 1999 event to accommodate the many tube frame cars formerly classified in GT1 as well as cars from the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series.

"We recognize that, for many competitors, the traditional tube frame, front-engined V-8 muscle car is a cost effective and practical car with which to compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona," said Wilson. "We continue our support for teams by giving them a chance to race in a class of their own this year. In 1998, these cars were outperformed by the more expensive, technically advanced European-style GT1 cars, leaving them with little chance of winning class honors. Consequently, we have established GTT as a new category for tube-framed cars for 1999."

The GTT class is based closely on the cars that have previously raced at Daytona, with modifications designed to reduce running costs and to allow Trans-Am-eligible cars to compete. These rules are designed to close the gap between USRRC and SCCA tube-frame rules, making cross-over between sprint and endurance racing formats more feasible without a major investment.

"There are well over 100 tube-frame cars in existence in the United States at this time, all of which can be made eligible for this class at a relatively low cost," said Mitch Wright, USRRC Technical Manager. "We believe that the new GTT class rules will promote more participation in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series. By consolidating rules we have created new opportunities for the owners of these cars."

The Rolex 24 At Daytona will be preceded by the traditional USRRC Test Days, January 9-11, 1999.