Dated: January 7, 2012
PARSIPPANY, N.J. (January 7, 2012) - After finishing second in the GT class in the 2011 Daytona 24 Hours, Paul Miller Racing today announced a four-driver lineup that is well equipped to finish one spot higher in this year's race on January 28-29 at Daytona International Speedway.
Sharing the No. 48 Chopard/TOTAL/IPC Porsche GT3 will be regular co-drivers Bryce Miller and Sascha Maassen, returning driver Rob Bell and team newcomer Mark Wilkins. The team will be utilizing a 2011 model Porsche GT3 after scoring its runner-up result last year in a 2009 car.
"Between the driver lineup and our newer car for this year, I'm really optimistic that we can take that one additional step on the podium," said team owner Paul Miller. "I'm really excited about the drivers we've got in the car. Bryce and Sascha established a great relationship as full-time co-drivers last year and provide a solid foundation for our team.
"Rob did an outstanding job for us at Daytona last year and played a huge role in our second-place result, so we're excited to welcome him back. Mark Wilkins is new to our team for this year, but he's got tremendous experience at Daytona and has had a lot of success in GRAND-AM over the years, so I know he'll be a great addition to our team."
Bryce Miller, of Summit, N.J., earned his second runner-up result at Daytona last year, having also finished second in the GT class in 2008. He was part of the 2007 GRAND-AM Rolex Series GT championship team and has won races in both GRAND-AM and American Le Mans Series competition. In addition to the second-place run at Daytona last year, Miller contested the full ALMS season as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a handful of other international endurance races.
"After coming so close to winning this race a couple times in the past, we are pulling out all the stops to get it done this year," said Bryce. "I'm very excited about sharing this car with Sascha, Rob and Mark. There are obviously a lot of things that can happen during a 24-hour race to take you out that are beyond your control, but I have a great deal of confidence in the things we do control, such as our team, choice of race car and driver lineup. All the ingredients are there for us to be successful."
Maassen, of Raeren, Belgium, is a highly decorated driver in sports car racing who joined Paul Miller Racing just after the 2011 Daytona 24 Hours. The former Porsche factory driver owns multiple championships in ALMS competition and victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring. One thing that has eluded him to this point, however, is a Daytona victory.
"After a promising first year with Paul Miller Racing I am happy to be back with the team this year," Maassen said. "The first contact I had with the team was concerning last year's 24-hour race, but we did not get together. This year I am part of a good team and strong lineup of drivers. None of us has won this race yet, but we surely are capable of achieving our goal."
Bell, of Northampton, England, started a successful 2011 racing season with the second-place performance at Daytona alongside co-drivers Bryce Miller, Bryan Sellers and Tim Sugden. He went on to compete in the Le Mans Series in Europe, scoring GTE class victories at France's Paul Ricard circuit and Estoril in Portugal, in addition to contesting the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
"I'm delighted to be asked back to be a part of Paul Miller Racing and can't wait to go back to Daytona," said Bell. "Last year was my first time there and I enjoyed everything about it. To finish on the podium was great. However, to narrowly miss out on any 24-hour win is hard to take. My aim this year is to go one better! The competition this year is once again fantastic, with huge strength and depth and a number of new manufacturers. As a team, we will learn from last year and with the right mentality and a slice of luck, I'm sure we will be in the mix."
Wilkins, of Aurora, Ontario, Canada, returns to GT competition in the Daytona 24 Hours this year for the first time since 2006. He has competed in Daytona Prototypes for the past several years and owns a pair of DP victories as well as an LMPC class victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2010.
"With the start of a New Year comes the start of a new race season and one of the most challenging endurance races in the world," Wilkins said. "I'm thrilled to be a part of this year's Rolex 24 action with Paul Miller Racing. Many thanks to Paul Miller for putting me in the best endurance race in the world car alongside some of the best racers in the world. I can't wait to get down to work at this weekend's test days in preparation for the 50th running of the Daytona 24 Hours at the end of the month!"
The team and drivers are currently participating in a three-day test session at Daytona International Speedway. Through two days of testing, the No. 48 Porsche team's times have been plenty competitive, including top-five times in night practice on Saturday evening.