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Grand Am: Flat out testing for TRG.

While TRG may have scooped the Grand Am Rolex Series GT class team titles in 2005, Porsche driver Craig Stanton beat TRG drivers Marc Bunting and Andy Lally to the driver's title.

Kevin Buckler is not a man to take defeat lying down and therefore it is no surprise that his pair of GT class Pontiac GTO's were out in force during this weeks Hoosier Tyre Test at the Homestead-Miami Speedway as TRG begins its campaign for complete and total domination in 2006.

Buckler, whose ‘The Racers Group' team overcame a mid-season switch in chassis, almost immediately had the brand new Pontiac GTO's on the pace and the two-day test at Homestead was primarily focused on preparing for the season opening Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

Drivers Andy Lally, R.J. Valentine, Paul Edwards and Jan Magnussen were on hand to exercise the GTO.Rs as TRG utilised the valuable off-season testing time to fine tune the GTO.Rs set-up and evaluate updated components with an eye towards Daytona in less than seven weeks.

“The team had a plan to work on some new parts and pieces as well as do some long runs,” said Buckler. “We drove the cars hard for two days. The team has put a lot of good miles on the GTO.Rs throughout our abbreviated race schedule in 2005, but nothing that will compare to the rigors we will face at Daytona in less than 50-days.”

“The crew made good use of the time at Homestead to work on top speed; we are still about 6 to 8 miles an hour down on speed to the Porsches around the oval per our radar gun. The guys did a good job to set-up the car and we were quick through the infield.

“We also had some new GT competitors show up at Homestead, the Mazda looked very strong! I welcome the competition and with the GTO.Rs, the usual heard of Porsches, a couple of Vettes sprinkled in there as well as the new Mazda's, the GT class is looking to be more competitive than ever. We are looking forward to a hard fight next season and I applaud Grand Am for their efforts in bringing new competitors to the series.”

“Jan, Paul and Andy were doing the heavy lifting of testing the new pieces and performing the long runs. The guys were able to post times that were at the top of the timing charts, but we will have to see how we do when all the competition is on hand. I am very proud of the way the team is working together. It is starting to feel a bit like our Cinderella year in 2002, but we have a long way to go before Daytona. We came away from Homestead with confidence in our advances since Mexico City as well as a list of things we need to fix for the early January test day. After that we won't have a lot of time to get the cars ready for the 24 hours.”

“With the driver line-ups in the GTO.Rs as yet to be finalised for Daytona, the team is pleased to announce that long time friend and TRG driver R.J. Valentine will be driving with us again this coming season. R.J. did a great job getting familiar with the GTO.R and turned in fast, consistent lap times.”

The team also tested Pro Mazda front-runner Adrian “Ace” Carrio on Tuesday afternoon. “We were looking for an opportunity to put a hot youngster in the car for some testing and other possibilities in the future. It really fits with our team's image to bring on young talent. Ace immediately came to mind, as he was one of the drivers in our Team 16 programme earlier this season at Daytona. Just like before, he was very impressive and followed our instructions to the letter. We think Ace has a real future in professional motor racing,” continued Buckler.
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