'Roar before the 24' testing at Daytona is productive for Pirelli

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Pirelli and its P Zero competition racing slicks are ready for the 47th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona, Jan. 22–25, after three-days of productive testing for the upcoming race ended Monday at "The Roar Before the 24" at Daytona International Speedway.

Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series competitors in the Daytona Prototype and GT classes logged thousands of laps around the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona in preparation for the legendary day-long race later this month.

"It has been really good to get on the Pirellis," said A.J. Allmendinger, who returns to the Rolex 24 as part of a potent driver lineup on the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing (MSR) Ford Riley team.

"They (Pirelli) have been a good tire. Last year I would get out there and get them up to speed and they get going right away. It's a good tire."

Allmendinger will share the No. 6 car with co-drivers John Pew, Ian James and Michael Valiante.

The MSR entry, which also won the 2008 season-ending 1000k endurance race at Miller Motorsports Park, was among the fastest Daytona Prototypes at the test.

"Last year the Pirellis were really good and during the race you could run a whole stint on them and really keep up a good pace and the balance wouldn’t change," said Allmendinger, who was a regular NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver last year.

"This year, I think it has been a bit different in that it is a lot warmer here at the test than in the previous years that I have run here. The Pirellis are holding up pretty good. They are doing a good job."

Ryan Dalziel credited Pirellis with playing a key part in his Rolex Series Daytona Prototype victory last year at Laguna Seca in the SAMAX BMW Riley. This year he will run the full Rolex Series season with Alegra Motorsports and Carlos de Quesada in a similar No. 22 BMW Riley.

The quick Scotsman once again found the Pirellis on form in Daytona testing.

"The Pirellis performed very, very well," said Dalziel. "We are happy with our package and the Pirelli tires are working well for us again.

"We even had a couple of qualifying runs that we simulated and you have a little more flexibility on when you can get that fast lap in with traffic."

New and veteran GT class teams and drivers using a variety of different race cars also found Pirelli's latest P Zero up to the demands of Daytona.

The No. 32 Miracle Sealants Pontiac GXP.R is one of several race cars of its type entered in the Rolex 24 and team driver Mike Forest knows Pirelli will be there with his team through the marathon race.

"The new Pirelli tires are very consistent, which is ey during such a long race," Forest said.

"It is important for us at PR1 Motorsports -- entering our first Rolex 24 -- to know that there's one less variable to worry about. During the race, I think we will be able to double stint the Pirellis on the Miracle Sealants Pontiac, which hopefully will get us to the front."

While the PR1 group is preparing for its first Rolex 24, Farnbacher Loles Racing has scored Rolex Series race wins and championships the last few seasons and even earned a Rolex 24 GT class win -- as Farnbacher Racing -- a few years ago.

Another win could be in the cards this year and team driver Dominik Farnbacher knows Pirelli will be an important part of any success at Daytona.

"We did a tire simulation for a full stint, with a full tank of fuel," said Farnbacher, who turned the fastest GT lap of the test in the team’s No. 86 Porsche GT3. "The lap times at the end were very consistent.

"Also, the car is so smooth and nice to drive; it makes the tire more consistent and safe during the stint. At the end of the stint, the lap times were very close to the times we do with new tires.

"It is a good sign -- it shows Pirelli makes a good tire and the team prepares a good car."

The Rolex 24 at Daytona will start at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 24, with live coverage on FOX beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

FOX will broadcast the opening 90 minutes of the race before SPEED takes over for the balance of the broadcast.
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