DAYTONA BEACH, FL (23 Jan. 2024) – Looking to get the 2024 racing season off to a strong start, Racing to End Alzheimer’s prepared for its return to the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge (IMPC) with three days of testing in the traditional “Roar Before the Rolex 24” at Daytona International Speedway last weekend.
The weekend gave the team five lengthy sessions to test the No. 51 Toyota Supra GT4 that will be fielded by Hattori Motorsports in the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge in the lead Grand Sport class, set for Friday, Jan. 26, at 1:45 p.m. ET on Peacock.
Two of Racing to End Alzheimer’s champions – Mark Kvamme and Nick Galante – will be joined by Matt Forbush in the event. Veteran Toyota/Lexus driver and 2023 IMSA Champion Jack Hawksworth, who will race in the sister No. 50 Hattori Motorsports entry this weekend, also spent time in the car during the Roar testing.
The best lap for the No. 51 Racing to End Alzheimer’s Toyota was 1:54.230-seconds, which was eighth-fastest in Saturday’s fourth session.
Kvamme, who did not participate in the Roar test, repeated as Am class champion in the 2023 Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America, sweeping the final weekend to come from behind for the title. Kvamme is a 10-time competitor in the Rolex 24, with a best finish of third (LMP2 for BAR1 Motorsports) in 2017.
Galante raced with the Racing to End Alzheimer’s team to IMSA IMPC titles in the 2016 and 2018 IMPC.
“The Roar is a great place for us ‘old guys’ to wake our brains up and get out the cobwebs, moving from Christmas parties to going fast,” Galante smiled. “Seriously, we learned quite a bit at the Roar, especially with a car I haven’t run a whole season with. I ran a one-off at Daytona two years ago, so this gave me an opportunity to learn the car again, how it feels under heavy braking and especially how it feels throughout its tire life. That really helps you out in preparation for a long four-hour race. Feeling a full run from sticker tires all the way to a degrading tire is super-important, and the Roar gave us that opportunity. We pushed the tires to the limit, and even stretched that stint out to see how the car balances. Then you set up the car for the middle of the tire life, so we can find the happy medium for the four-hour race.
“Also, the Racing to End Alzheimer’s charity starts here at Daytona,” said Galante, whose aunt and grandmother suffered from the disease. “When I look back through the years, and all that that charity has done – and what we’re about to do – it all starts here at Daytona. It’s the first race of the season, and the first race for the charity that really helps out millions all across the country.”
Forbush will be competing professionally at Daytona for the first time.
“It’s exciting to be in the IMSA paddock,” he said. “I’ve been here as an owner, I’ve run the HSR race here, and in the Supra a lot competitively, but this is my first time in a real competition setting at Daytona. “It’s a great experience, and it’s fun to run in IMSA. There’s some of the best drivers in sports car racing out on the track with you, including Jack Hawksworth in our other car and some of the NASCAR guys in another Supra, so there’s some real benchmarks to see how you stand as a driver.”
For Racing to End Alzheimer’s founder Phil Frengs, the first race of the season always marks a renewal of the organizations’ commitment: to help raise awareness and funds to fight dementia and Alzheimer’s. Fans can find Frengs in his familiar purple pop-up tent near the team’s garage in the IMPC paddock.
“We are delighted to be back at Daytona again teaming up with our friend Matt Forbush, longtime driving partner Nick Galante and current Racing to End Alzheimer’s driver Mark Kvamme,” said Frengs. “This past weekend we worked with Hattori Motorsports to get our Toyota Supra up to speed and ready to compete next Friday in the BMW Endurance Challenge.
“We are so happy to get another chance to create awareness of our Foundation’s effort to fund the care and fund the cure at Daytona in this world class weekend of speed,” Frengs continued. “We are grateful to Hattori Motorsports for the invitation to join them to compete and are pointing towards the podium! We want to start that winning feeling before we launch our Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America season in Sebring in March, and as we launch a new partnership with the Porsche Owners Club. We encourage fans to join us and add their loved one’s name to debut on our car at Sebring – just go to r2endalz.org.”
This weekend’s on-track activities begin on Wednesday at 3:05 p.m. (all times ET) with a one-hour practice session. The second one-hour practice will be held Thursday at 8:45 a.m., with GS qualifying getting underway at 1:35 p.m. There will be a 30-minute Friday morning session at 9:25 a.m., prior to the four-hour race at 1:45 p.m.