January 1, 2014 — Daytona Beach, Fla. — via press release — IMSA photo — Looking to return to the team’s winning ways, Spirit of Daytona Racing has signed Michael Valiante and Richard Westbrook as full-season drivers for the team’s 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship campaign.
Spirit of Daytona Racing will open the season with the the Rolex 24 At Daytona, as 2013 DTM Champion and 2010 Rolex 24 winner Mike Rockenfeller is set to join the squad for the home event.
Spirit of Daytona Racing was the first to take to the track with the all-new Corvette DP in 2012, bringing the iconic American nameplate its first victory with a pole-and-win weekend at Barber Motorsports Park in the second race of the year. Spirit of Daytona Racing went on to lead over 300 laps and score three overall victories in 2012, including a win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with Valiante and Westbrook.
“Michael did a great job for us in 2012, and we are really excited for him to be back with us full-time this year,” said team owner Troy Flis. “He and Westy (Richard Westbrook) work really well together, and I think with some of the changes we are looking at on the engineering side of our program, we should not only come out of the box much stronger, but we will hopefully be able to develop a championship-contending campaign with our VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP. New tracks, new rules, new races–there are a ton of new challenges for us to adjust to this year. We want to be in a position to maximize our opportunity, and having this driver line up will be an important part of that for us.”
Last season Westbrook played a key role in his endurance outings with Corvette Racing in American Le Mans Series duty and the talented Briton will bring that experience to his third consecutive season with Spirit of Daytona Racing in 2014.
“I am looking forward to working with Michael once again and hopefully we can pick up where we left off in 2012,” said Westbrook, who added a Sebring 12 Hour victory with Corvette Racing to his racing resume in 2013. “As a group, we’ve got very clear goals for 2014 and Troy (Flis) is doing everything he can to put this team in position to reach those goals. There are a lot of question marks about next year, so all I can think about is getting back in the car and getting to work, so I am very excited to have Michael on board.”
Valiante added to his Corvette DP experience in 2013, scoring two podium finishes with the Bow Tie including a run to second place at Mid-Ohio. The Canadian has Daytona Prototype history stretching back to 2005, and is looking forward to putting his experience to work as the future beckons.
“I’m really happy to have the full-season program in place and to be coming back to Spirit of Daytona Racing,” said Valiante, who has also proven himself a winner in IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge competition. “It is a good feeling to have our plans in place, and to be able to now focus on what we need to do to be ready to go at Daytona.”