Image © 2007 Regis Lefebure
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team just completed three days of testing at Daytona International Speedway, in preparation for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Drivers Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Long and Romain Dumas took to the track on Thursday looking for the right car set-up to top the speed charts, making several brake and suspension changes searching for the right combination. By the end of the first test day, No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche powered Crawford turned a fast lap of 1:48.261. With driver input, the team continued to make adjustments all-day Friday, improving upon the lap times each session. By the last day, the Alex Job Racing prepared Crawford turned its fastest lap (in the last session), turning a fast lap of 1:44.605 (122.518 mph).
“We are still working on the car,” the German Bergmeister said after getting out of the car for the final test session. “Obviously we are not the quickest, but we got a little closer. But, we still have to improve the car. Compared to some of the other cars, we are really slow in a straight line. We will have to trim it out even more. We are already on a low aero set-up, so it will be tough to gain more straight line speed. Luckily, there is some more time before the race to make those changes.”
“The final session is probably the closest read to where everybody stands, not the quickest times because the temperature was a little bit higher, but, to be within three-tenths of the top time is pretty good,” Long said following the final test session. “Of course, we would want to be better than sixth quick (in the final day afternoon session). After looking at where we began the weekend and where we’ve come, I think the guys have worked tirelessly to give us a pretty decent car. We will keep continuing to improve for the race. But, overall I’m pretty happy.”
“We tried a lot of things on the car [this weekend] and we improved session after session,” Dumas said of the three-day test. “But, we have not found the right combination yet. We’ve got to keep working. It was good to have this three-day test to help me find the speed. I think it was good test for everyone to begin working together, especially with driver changes.”
“We’ve improved quite a bit over the three days, but we are still off the mark,” team owner Alex Job said. “We believe that we have a 24-hour car in terms of reliability, which was questionable with the new car in the first race last year. Quite frankly it was the drivers’ input that got us to where we are now. But, we just don’t have the speed this year that we had last year. We’ve got to work hard on that. Our biggest issue right now is the car is unsettled under braking. The drivers don’t have full confidence to really drive the car into the turns. We won’t be able to show the kind of speed we showed last year due the performance adjustments that occurred throughout the 2006 season.”
A two-time winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Bergmeister will make his sixth consecutive start and is looking for his first-ever Rolex 24 win in a Daytona Prototype. He captured the GT class win in 2002 and was the overall winner in 2003. His best Rolex 24 finish in a Daytona Prototype was sixth.
After a third-place finish in last year’s Rolex 24 in the DP class, Long looks to improve two positions and join Bergmeister as an overall winner. The Las Vegas, Nev., resident will make his fourth consecutive Rolex 24 start. His three previous starts include two GT class starts and one DP start, respectively.
Frenchman Dumas will make his third Rolex 24 start and his second in a Daytona Prototype. Dumas made his Rolex 24 debut in 2002, finishing third in the GT class and 10th overall.
The 45th running of the Grand-Am Rolex Series 24 Hours at Daytona airs from 1 to 2:30 p.m. (EST) Saturday, Jan. 27 live on FOX. The broadcast will be switched over to Speed Channel from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. (EST) and from 8 to 10 p.m. Speed Channel resumes coverage at 6 a.m. (EST) Sunday, Jan. 28.
Ruby Tuesday is one of the nation’s leading casual-dining restaurant companies, with more than 800 restaurants worldwide. It was founded in 1972 by Sandy Beall, who serves as Chairman & CEO today. The company is committed to having uncompromising freshness and quality with passionate employees who take pride in delighting guests with an excellent dining experience. The burger-centric menu features an assortment of handcrafted burgers, its fresh garden bar, premium baby back ribs and a variety of other signature entrees. Ruby Tuesday, Inc. is traded on the NY Stock Exchange (symbol:RI). To find out more about Ruby Tuesday, visit www.rubytuesday.com.
For more information regarding the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team, visit www.alexjobracing.com or contact Adam Horn at ahorn AT iland.net or (660) 864-8927.