We’ve not been left wanting for endurance races so far in 2012. The Dakar. The Dubai 24Hrs. The Gulf 12Hrs. The Monte Carlo Rally. Now from across the pond comes the Rolex 24Hr at Daytona International Raceway, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this weekend. Many auspicious names have won the Daytona’s 24Hr headliner – Dan Gurney, A. J. Foyt, and Bobby Rahal to name a few – and this year’s entry list already boasts US motorsport giants Chip Ganassi Racing, established fledgling outfit Starworks Motorsport, and last year’s stand-out ALMS debutants, Oryx Racing.

Fresh from their split with Dyson racing, with whom they placed third in the LMP1 class last year, the Rolex24 marks Oryx Racing’s first steps into the ever-strengthening Grand-Am series. Having decided against a switch to European competition, the team hope new support from Audi Customer Racing will aid their development into a championship winning operation. Focus for now, however, remains on Daytona.

Team owner, and lead driver, Humaid Al Masaood will once again partner Briton Steven Kane in the Oryx car, Kane’s racing expertise already proving invaluable to the UAE-national during their stint as team-mates in 2011. In his third endurance outing in as many weeks, compatriot Saeed Al Mehairi will make his debut with the Abu Dhabi based team at the Rolex 24.

Preparation ahead of the event, though limited, has proved encouraging. Despite Oryx only completing final purchase earlier in the week, the team’s new Audi R8 Grand-Am suffered no mechanical or aerodynamic maladies during its public debut at the traditional ‘Roar’ shakedown. So new was the car that Steven Kane ran the first 200+kmh sighting laps without dampers! Although the R8 will only run for the first time in team colours during event warm-up, crankandpiston has been given an exclusive sneak preview to the final design.

Outright victory is unlikely, but team officials are confident they can begin establishing the Oryx Grand-Am name on-track. With only three weeks preparation under their belts, to finish at Daytona would be an achievement in itself >>>

Source – Old Boone

James Gent first started as a freelance motorsport writer in the UK, before an urge to be paid a monthly wage saw him move to Dubai in late 2011. A keen motoring enthusiast, he hopes that one day his garage will hold a Lamborghini Countach, as well as a WRC Lancia Delta Integrale.

James Gent

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