January 23, 2019 –
Final preparations have been made, and Moorespeed and the No. 19 CAG/Moorespeed Audi R8 LMS GT3 team have arrived at Daytona International Speedway from their Austin, Texas-based shop for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, January 24-27.
The famed 24-hour race is the first round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship during IMSA’s 50th Anniversary season. Full-season GT Daytona (GTD)-class drivers Will Hardeman and Alex Riberas will be joined by motorsports veterans Andrew Davis and Markus Winkelhock for the season-opener on the 3.56-mile Daytona road course.
The Moorespeed team brings Continental Automotive Group, Bardahl and Audi Genuine Parts along as partners for the full-season endeavor as they make the move from sprint racing, including Porsche GT3 Cup with Hardeman behind the wheel, to a full season at the top level of sports car racing.
“We have a really good team,” Moorespeed President David Moore said. “Everyone has lots of experience and most all have been a part of championship winning teams from IMSA, FIA, World Challenge, Blancpain, NASCAR, IndyCar, and even F1. Our guys all get along very well and work hard together. We just have to put our heads down, focus, stay out of the pits and do our best with what we have. If we do that and work on what we can control as a team, I think we will be good.”
The drivers bring different levels of experience to the team, and through test sessions have begun to pull together as a team. For Hardeman, who has been with Moorespeed through the growth, the focus has been on preparation.
“David Moore and I have regular sessions in his simulator where we practice full stints, and pit lane ingress and egress,” Hardeman said. “Learning the new controls and dash of the Audi R8 LMS takes a bit of time to download to muscle memory as well. I feel good about the driving piece of the job, but endurance racing is much more complex than the sprint race format I came from so there is more workload on me regarding execution of strategy, cockpit management, pit stops, and driver changes. We will do a good bit of rehearsal for this stuff but it will still be new to me once we are doing it for real.”
Riberas will be running the full season, sharing the Audi with Hardeman in a championship effort. By nature, there will have to be an eye on both the race and the long term goals, but the main focus is on the season-opener.
“We’re here for the long run,” Riberas said. “Of course everybody wants to win Daytona, but we need to maintain the big picture in our head at all times. That being said, I don’t think we should approach Daytona any different than any other race of the calendar. It’s just one race at a time and we will show up with everything we’ve got and capitalize on every opportunity that we find on the way.”
Davis brings a wealth of experience to the team in his role as a third driver during all of the Michelin Endurance Cup races. This Rolex 24 marks the 17th consecutive start in the event for Davis, tying Hurley Haywood for second all-time, and one behind Boris Said on the consecutive starts list.
“One of the most important things that I’ve learned to do over the years is how to be a good teammate,” Davis said. “I certainly believe in leading by example, so I work hard to be an open book with the team. I appreciate how David and Will have built the foundation of this team. We have the personnel and the car to get this job done, so we are hoping to surprise some people come Sunday afternoon!”
Audi Sport driver Winkelhock has driven around the world, including a Rolex 24 podium appearance, but he is still searching for that elusive Daytona win.
“I am very experienced with the Audi R8 LMS as an Audi Sport Driver and I try to bring as much forward as I can,” Winkelhock said. “I wasn’t at the Roar, but I can feel a very professional attitude and mega team spirit at Moorespeed. We have a strong team and driver lineup behind us and a great car with our Audi R8 LMS. For sure, you also need some luck in a 24 hour race but the team has already done everything to be competitive. My only target is going flat out to get the watch!”