Grand Am: 8Star Motorsports Rolex 24 Preview
The 51st Rolex 24 at Daytona will mark the debut of GRAND-AM’s newest team, 8Star Motorsports, as it seeks to make a memorable first impression on the Daytona Prototype class in this weekend’s Florida endurance classic.
While the team may be a new name to the sports car racing scene, 8Star Motorsports founder Enzo Potolicchio is no stranger to success in North America and abroad. The 44-year-old Venezuelan enjoyed a breakout 2012 season that included wins in the 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as being the highest placed LMP2 driver in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Following his most successful year to date as a driver, Potolicchio made the bold move to become a team owner, launching 8Star late last year, with the vision of taking on America’s top teams in the Rolex Sports Car Series with its brand-new Corvette DP.
The team name is symbolic for the eight stars that adorn the Venezuelan flag. With a firm commitment on the Daytona Prototype title, Potolicchio has assembled an impressive lineup of drivers for his team’s debut race. Joining him at the wheel of the No. 3 Corvette DP are Stephane Sarrazin, Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Minassian and Pedro Lamy, all former factory drivers from the now-defunct Peugeot LMP1 program. Each one of the drivers brings a wealth of endurance racing experience and success. Sarrazin is a two-time European Le Mans Series champion and winner of the Petit Le Mans on three occasions, including the 2010 race with Lamy, who also has a Le Mans class win to his credit. Former F1 driver Davidson won Sebring in his debut in 2010, while Minassian has also achieved numerous wins and podiums in sports car competition. Additionally, both Lamy and Minassian have past DP experience in the Rolex 24. Potolicchio has pulled out all the stops in assembling a top-level crew as well.
Former Starworks crew chief Gary Neal has been brought on as team manager, with former Formula 1 and BMW DTM engineer Laurent Coppee another high-profile addition. Along with the support of Chevrolet and its engineering partner, Pratt & Miller, the Florida-based team has all of the key ingredients for achieving success in its very first race. After an encouraging three-day test on the 3.56-mile combination oval and road course at the “Roar Before the Rolex 24” earlier this month, which saw the orange-colored prototype post the third quickest time of the Corvette DPs, all systems are go for 8Star's big debut this weekend.
“It’s amazing what the team has done over the last ten weeks,” Potolicchio said. “We had an empty workshop until the car showed up just a few months ago and things started moving into place. We accomplished our first big goal by getting to Daytona for the Roar and we were able to learn a lot there and collect data before coming back here for the Rolex 24. “The lineup we have is just amazing. Having Anthony, Stephane, Nico and Pedro here with us adds a lot of endurance racing experience. That’s going to pay off in this race. I also think we have the best combination with Chevy, Corvette and the support of Pratt & Miller. Now being part of the Chevy family, we’re seeing all of the benefits of racing with them. We definitely have a car to win the race and it would be a dream start for our new team.”