Nov. 15, 2008

Valiante Leads Series Test with New Team

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Continuing with the high speed and performance demonstrated throughout its inaugural season in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 earlier this year, Pirelli didn't miss a beat in the debut of its 2009 specification P Zero racing tire in a two-day test this week at Daytona International Speedway.

Pirelli joined the Grand-Am Rolex Series as its Official Tire in the 2008 season and its legendary P Zeros quickly proved their performance and longevity with new records set at nearly every race. This trend may continue in 2009 as the new Pirelli P Zero proved fast right out of the box during their Daytona test sessions on Nov. 11-12.

Although official Grand-Am times were not distributed, several Daytona Prototype and GT competitors lapped the 3.56- mile Daytona road course at speeds within range of the existing track records. Unofficially leading the way was Michael Valiante who has switched to the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing (MSR) Ford Riley with John Pew for 2009 after driving the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Dallara this year. In addition to winning the 2008 season-ending 1000, the No. 6 car also shared the front row at Daytona last year with its pole-winning No. 60 sister car of Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson. The MSR drivers frequently gave credit to Pirelli for playing a key part in the increased speeds and performance last year and new teammate Valiante agrees.

"The Pirellis are fantastic," Valiante said. "Ever since we started racing on them, I've always enjoyed running them. They hold up and they're consistent. I think it will be a great tire for 2009."

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