MacNeil, Vilander, Balzan and Westphal ready for Rolex 24
Daytona Beach, Fla., (January 5, 2020) - WeatherTech Racing had a successful Roar Before the 24 test weekend in preparation for the start of the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Chammpionship and the season opening Rolex 24 At Daytona to run January 25-26.
Drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill), Toni Vilander (Kankaanpää, Finland), Alessandro Balzan (Italy), and Jeff Westphal (San Mateo, Calif.) were able to get familiar with the team's new Scuderia Corsa prepared Ferrari 488 Evo around the 3.56-mile modified oval at the World Center of Racing. At the end of the day on Sunday the drivers came away with a lot of smiles and optimism for the upcoming Rolex 24.
The fastest lap of the weekend was posted on Saturday afternoon by Westphal in "garage qualifying." The Californian put in a lap of 1:46.967 which will give the team fifth choice in GTD for pit lane assignments for the race.
"Really happy with the way the Roar test went his weekend," MacNeil said. "The car has been great since we unloaded it here on Thursday. You never know how a new car is going to be. The car is new and we have some new crew members and you never know how it all is going to go, but we put in a lot of good work this weekend. The Evo upgrade has proven to be a nice next step for this car. The revamped ABS system and the new aero package makes the car a little better to drive. I will have a full plate at the end of the month. I am going to be doing the two Ferrari Challenge races and the 24 on the Rolex weekend. I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Ferrari Challenge car and getting ready for the 24 as well. So, it will be a busy and fun weekend for me."
"The 63 WeatherTech Ferrari Evo is a new car for us," Westphal said. "There are a lot of changes to this car from the last one, not huge, but they all impact the way the car drives. We are getting closer to that happy place that Scuderia Corsa has been able to have over the last couple of years with the Ferrari. I was pretty pleased with my fast lap yesterday, it was the best that the car has felt and it showed. It is getting better and better so we are getting closer to the set-up we want to start the 24 with on the car."
"Really positive Roar test for us," Vilander said. "We started adjusting on the basic things as the car just came from Italy. We took it step-by-step with our new engineering group. I am happy as are Cooper, Jeff and Ale. I feel we put in a lot of work over the last three days to get the car ready for the race. The way Ferrari develops the car it is more for Europe. So, we needed a good three days to do the fine tuning for the track here at Daytona. The drivers and engineers are learning the car every time we go out. We now look forward to the race when things will get more exciting, more pressure and you really have to go for it."
"It is great to be back in the No. 63 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari," Balzan said. "I am grateful to everyone for helping me get back into the car after taking last year off. I have done a lot of races with Cooper and Jeff and I have also raced with Toni here in 2014. The GTD field is very tight and strong. The Evo is amazing to drive. We are still learning how to get the most out of it, but so far so good."
The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will start with the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona January 25-26.