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IMSA Daytona 24 Hours

Toyota WEC star Conway relishing Lexus Rolex 24 GTD outing

Toyota FIA World Endurance Championship star Mike Conway says he is relishing the chance to pick up "new skills" driving a Lexus GT3 car in this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona.

#14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3: Mike Conway

Conway has joined Vasser Sullivan regulars Ben Barnicoat and Jack Hawksworth at the wheel of the team's #14 Lexus RC F GT3 in the GTD Pro class for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship opener.

It marks his first outing in a GT car since he contested an International GT Open round on the now-defunct Valencia street track in 2008, when he was racing in the GP2 Series.

While Conway has been a regular at Daytona in recent seasons in the DPi class with the Action Express Cadillac team, the American brand becoming a competitor of Toyota in the WEC this season meant he was forced to find an alternative avenue to return to the Florida venue.

"I last drove a GT car back in 2008 on the Valencia street track, in a Dodge Viper," Conway told Motorsport.com. "It’s been so long since then that it’s all new getting back into it.

"It came together towards the end of last year. I wanted to do something for Daytona and I got talking to these guys. GTP is a bit difficult now, as we’re all effectively in the same category now. I had to look at some other options.

"It's a new challenge, trying to learn some new skills. It’s good to experience the other side [with traffic] after so many years in a prototype."

 

Conway said he had spoken to Toyota WEC teammate Kamui Kobayashi, who made a one-off outing for Vasser Sullivan last year at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, about how to get the most out of the RC F GT3.

"It is quite different, especially with the ABS," the Briton explained. "That’s probably the hardest thing to get used to. It kind of fights you, but it can help you if you use it correctly.

"I’m still learning with that. But it’s good to pick up some new skills which can only help you for future endeavors."

Conway said that his deal with Vasser Sullivan currently only encompasses this weekend's Rolex 24, but he remains open to further GT outings in future.

"Driving anything is always fun, and this class of racing is always close from start to finish." he said. "I’ve always admired the GT guys for being nose-to-tail all the way down to the last lap, even at Le Mans. It’s pretty cool."

Conway, Hawksworth and Barnicoat will start third on the grid in the GTD Pro category and seventh among the GTD cars.

"P7 is a good spot to start overall and P3 in the Pro class is good points to start the championship," commented Barnicoat. "Of course, we would all like to be on pole position, but nevertheless it’s a great position and we should be out of the thick of the trouble at the start of the race.

"It’s going to be great to go and race with Mike and Jack for the 24 hours. We’re feeling confident in our Lexus and with this Vasser Sullivan team. Time to go and enjoy it and get a watch at the end.”

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