The fourth week of January is a hectic one for the drivers and teams of the TUDOR United Sportscar Series, as well as the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. All the offseason testing, chassis development, and training culminate in a series of on-track races at the Daytona International Speedway, culminating in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Following a week of ups and downs for driver Andrew Carbonell and his teammates at Freedom Autosport, the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competitor, and Miami resident, took a few minutes to sit down and answer a few questions from the West Palm Beach Motorsports Examiner about Daytona, racing in general, and the future.
1. What are your feelings about the opener at Daytona, and your hopes for the 2014 season as a whole?
"I thought the opener at Daytona went great! It is 24 hours of grueling racing that pushes man and machine to their absolute limits. This was the first race for the new TUDOR United Sportscar Series, which is a combination of last year’s Grand-Am and ALMS classes. Even after combining two different series and running a 24-hour race, the competition was close enough to make us wait until the last lap to determine our winners! Now that’s racing!
I hope that the 2014 season continues to provide this great racing. The series is working hard on making performance adjustments to each and every car. In theory this should keep the competition tight and exciting!"
2. How do you feel about the newly minted TUDOR United Sportscar Series, as opposed to Grand-Am and ALMS?
"It is a step forward for North American sportscar racing. There are only so many auto racing fans here in North America, and making them choose between two different series was somewhat difficult and complicated. Now with one unified series, it should be much easier to identify with sportscar racing here in America."
3. Aside from yourself, who are the drivers to watch out for in 2014?
"My fellow Mazda drivers in the new SKYACTIV-D Smart Diesel Prototypes: Tom Long, Sylvain Tremblay, Tristan Nuñez and Joel Miller."
4. Do your driving duties include other series in addition to IMSA? If so, which ones?
"Every now and then I compete in SCCA and NASA sanctioned events. These are usually regional-based Club Racing events where I provide coaching. "
5. What is your favorite racetrack?
"Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca"
6. With IMSA seeming to favor more strict enforcement of the rulebook, and imposing stricter penalties, do you think that this effort will stifle competition?
"It shouldn’t; everyone there is very professional and knows what is right from wrong. Obviously, you have to be a little more cautious due to the new “strictness” but that’s because it’s a new series and they have to enforce their law. Once the ball gets rolling and everyone settles in, you wont even notice it. "
7. Do you see the series expanding in the near future, or will the 11 race season become the norm?
"The potential for expansion is definitely there. The series is already visiting most if not all of the popular North American road races. Any new races would probably come from a promoter who sees the potential in the series and wants to bring it to a certain city or track."
8. I recently completed the Competition 101 Racing School, driving 20 laps in a former NASCAR stockcar. Do you think that programs like this are important to help fans understand the sport more?
"Absolutely! What better way to understand what that driver is feeling inside the car at 180mph with three other cars around him than to do it yourself?! Not to mention how hot and mentally exhausting it could be inside!"
9. How was your off season?
"Off-season is always nice. To get a break from all the travel and feel like you have a home base again is an incredible feeling. With all this relaxation, it doesn't take long before you are thinking about next year. And in racing, many times what you're doing next year is uncertain, turning your offseason into a hunting season for sponsors."
The West Palm Beach Motorsports Examiner would once gain like to thank all the public relations personnel involved with the TUDOR United Sportscar Championship for making this reporter feel at home and at ease during the fifty-second running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Special thanks go out to Beth Dolgner and the Freedom Autosport team for helping to make this interview possible.
Though there are still quite a few stories to be told about the Rolex 24, soon the focus will shift towards stock cars, with coverage of the events leading up to the Great American Race at the end of February, including an interview with perennial contender David Ragan, as well as a few moments with one of the most awesome, and probably off-the-wall drivers to ever put on a driving suit; Kenny Wallace!
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