TAVARES, Fla. (Jan. 26, 2016) - Cooper MacNeil, David MacNeil, Leh Keen, Shane van Gisbergen and Gunnar Jeannette are ready to put 24 hours on the No. 22 WeatherTech Racing Porsche at the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 54th running of the Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona at Daytona International Speedway this weekend.
The team is heading into the weekend with a lot of optimism based upon being the fastest GTD car at the Roar Before the 24 test three weeks ago. In a crowded field of 22 mostly new GT3 cars in the class, the team will have to make a perfect run January 30-31 to get the coveted Rolex watches on Sunday afternoon. The all-new Alex Job Racing (AJR) prepared WeatherTech Racing Porsche has been well accepted by drivers David MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill), Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill), Keen (Charleston, S.C.), Shane van Gisbergen (New Zealand) and Jeannette (Salt Lake City, Ut).
"There are 22 cars currently entered in the race, our lucky number, and any one of them could win the race," Cooper MacNeil said. "We will have to push for 24 hours straight, every lap, without putting a wheel off. We finished second last year and are hoping for only one place better. When we are out of the car, changes in strategy throughout the race causes us to stay on our toes. This makes it tough to get sleep, but we try to do our best. I like to get a bite to eat after I get out of the car and then rest because being 100% focused in the car is just as important in the first hour as it is in the twenty-fourth hour."
"I have been working out and studying hard for my run in the Rolex 24," David MacNeil said. "I have been going to Jeff Segal's simulator and I did some extra laps in a Porsche since the Roar test. The GTD field will be tight. We had the fastest car at the Roar test, but with all of the new cars I am sure the other teams will find more speed by this weekend. I have full confidence that IMSA will equalize the field so the best car and team will win."
"It is pretty wild to think it's already 24 hours of Daytona time again," Keen said. "So much has happened since the last 24, but once again we have come full circle and back to Daytona for the 24. Only this time we have a much better weapon to fight with, the Porsche GT3R. We are really happy to be in a GT3R, but have to keep in mind everyone has the latest and greatest from top manufactures. The Porsche always runs strong at Daytona and Porsche has always been the benchmark for reliability, which is the key in a 24 hour race. We were really happy with our AJR WeatherTech GT3R at the test. What we really gained over the old car is stability and comfort. Which is great for lap time but also really helpful in an endurance race where you need the car to be under you the whole time. A nice driving race car helps eliminate mistakes and keeps the stress levels down for the long runs.
"The GTD class looks like the most competitive class in the whole race this year," Jeannette said. "Any one of the cars from seven different manufactures could win and most of them are new GT3 cars. It's going to be awesome to watch and be a part of the show! I remember the second time I drove at Le Mans at 19 years old. I woke up in the team transporter in the middle of the night after doing a double in the pouring rain. I was really thirsty so I went into the fridge and grabbed a bottle of clear liquid that said Eau something or other on it. I took a BIG Swig only to find out quickly that it wasn't water! I'm not sure if it was Schnapps or some other type of alcohol, but that was a surprise I wasn't expecting. Good thing I still had a bit of time before my next stint."
"We saw at the Roar test there are some very fast cars in the GTD field," van Gisbergen said. "The WeatherTech Racing Porsche was pretty competitive in most sessions. It is exciting to see all of the new GTD cars and the aggressive new models with all the aero kits hanging off them. I find it very hard to have any routine set in stone for the race. In racing anything can happen and normally set plans don't last long! I normally try to grab a bite to eat after a stint then try to wind down and grab and hour or two of sleep. I find coffee is very helpful at three in the morning."
Team owner, Alex Job, heads to Daytona ready for a full day and night of racing.
"We showed that the new Porsche has some speed at the Roar test," Job said. "I have been around long enough to know that all of these good teams did not waste any time in the three weeks since the test, so I am looking for one of the tightest fields in the history of the race in GTD. Our class has the most cars and some of the best driver line-ups I have ever seen. Whoever wins on Sunday will have to run a perfect race. I hope it will be us."
The 54th running of the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona will be televised over FOX Sports 1 and 2 as well as streaming live on IMSA.tv. Starting on Saturday, January 30, FS1 will carry the opening ceremonies and green flag live at 2 p.m. ET. FOX Sports 2 picks-up at 4 p.m. IMSA.tv will take over at 10 p.m. At 7 a.m. on Sunday, FOX Sports 1 returns, over to FOX Sports 2 at 10:30 a.m. and back to FOX Sports 1 for the finish at 1 p.m.