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Grand-Am: Pontiac new-boys get up to speed.
FRIDAY 6TH JANUARY 2006

TRG has started its official on track preparations for the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, with newcomers Andy Pilgrim, Kelly Collins, Johnny O'Connell and RJ Valentine getting up to speed in the GTO.R in their first test for the race later this month.

Andy Pilgrim, a veteran Daytona competitor and driver of the number #64 GTO.R said he was impressed with his first time in the car – although he admitted that he was worried about how the car would be in traffic come race day.

"You really have to have a good car in traffic to do well here, especially in the GT class," he said. "The GTO.R is nicely balanced and so far I am finding it easy to drive. The only trouble I am having so far is the sight lines out the back of the car that will be important for us to sort out for the race to keep track of the Daytona Prototypes coming up behind us."

Team-mate Kelly Collins also used to the opening day of the test to try and come to grips with the GTO.R and – like Pilgrim – his initial impressions were positive.

"I find that you have to be a little slower with the pace behind the wheel," he said. "Gentle on the turn-ins, you don't have to throw it around to put in fast lap times. The guys have the balance of the car really close, it is up to us to fine tune it for consistency. It is really a good all around car. I like the fact that I just showed up and did my first laps without having to make huge suspension adjustments, that is a big pat on the back for the team."

In the companion #65 car Johnny O'Connell admitted he was having problems getting comfortable behind the wheel, although he added that he felt the team had done well in getting the Pontiac set up for the Daytona circuit.

"I am having trouble fitting into the car comfortably," he said. "I am taller than my co-drivers so we have some adjusting to do so I can really be situated behind the wheel. The car is a lot different than the Corvette I am used to driving. The Corvette has a lot more power and mechanical grip.

"The team has done a good job of setting up the car, it's really drivable and there seems to be no bad habits to solve. We are really close to the DPs on the infield, speed wise, so it takes a lot of patience to get along on the track."
 
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