Brian Vickers Joins AF Waltrip
CORNELIUS, N.C. – AF Waltrip Racing announced today its driver line up for the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16 as well as the six-hour FIA World Endurance Championship race at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium on May 5.
Michael Waltrip Racing owner Rob Kauffman and NASCAR driver Brian Vickers will join Rui Aguas behind the wheel of the Ferrari 458 Italia competing in the LMGTE Am class at both events. The AF Waltrip entry is a joint effort by the Italian AF Corse team and NASCAR’s Michael Waltrip Racing.
Vickers replaces two-time Daytona 500 Champion Michael Waltrip whose television and NASCAR duties will keep him out of the driver lineup at both races.
Vickers, who’ll drive the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine in eight NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2012, said he relishes the opportunity to compete in major sports car races.
“Running at Spa is pretty cool. It’s such a historic place, and the high speed Eau Rouge corner sure gets your attention. It will be a challenge in the race,” said the two-time Sprint Cup winner and 2003 Nationwide Series champion.
“Le Mans will be one of the highlights of my career. This is an opportunity I never thought I would have. I can’t wait to get there and soak up the atmosphere. I’ve raced a lot of places but Le Mans will be special.”
Waltrip, Kauffman and Aguas finished 13th in class at their initial appearance at Le Mans in 2011 after transmission issues ended their race at the 16-hour mark. The AF Waltrip Ferrari earned a third-place finishes at Spa in 2010 and Petite Le Mans in 2011.
Kauffman targets even better showings in 2012.
"We have more experience and data by racing at Sebring, the Rolex 24 in Daytona, Petit Le Mans and Le Mans itself,” Kauffman said. “But we have very realistic goals. We want to run the full 24 hours and continue on our learning curve. We’re still fairly new and just want to keep developing our program. Amato (Ferrari) and the guys at AF Corse are fantastic to work with. ”
The Ferrari 458 will carry the logos of RK Motors Charlotte in both races. RK is the country’s leading retailer of investment-grade classic and collector cars, selling hundreds of vehicles each year. RK Motors Charlotte’s 80,000-square-foot facility features a 200-vehicle, state-of-the-art showroom complete with digital media studio, full restoration / customization shop and a full service area. Additional information is available at www.RKMotorsCharlotte.com.
Kauffman, a native New Yorker, partnered with Waltrip in October 2007. MWR fields Toyota Camrys in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from its 140,000-square-foot shop in Cornelius, N.C., for Vickers, Waltrip, Mark Martin, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.
MWR’s participation in international racing events is part of a worldwide business strategy and a way to promote the team on a global stage. MWR’s international effort has included visits to Le Mans, the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, Toyota Motorsports Festival in Japan as well as races and tests in Dubai, Belgium, Italy and Portugal.