Shane Lewis returns to the Dunlop 24H Dubai this weekendEndurance races take a special breed. While the world may see racecar drivers as speed-junkies looking for an immediate "fix" of adrenaline-inducing performance, the truth is there is a domain of the sport so special it demands a unique balance of speed and survival instinct. Shane Lewis is considered a master of the blend. As such the Jupiter, Fla., USA-resident has once again been called upon to bring his skill to the Dunlop 24H of Dubai. The January 11-12, Dunlop 24H DUBAI event is the eighth the Middle-Eastern country has staged at its state-of-the-art Dubai Autodrome and Lewis' second consecutive event there. He joins Dutch-based Cor Euser Racing 1 driving the No. 148 Lotus Evora GT4 with longtime friend and teammate Vic Rice (San Rafael, Calif., USA) as well as Henk Thijssen of the Netherlands and Briton Trevor Knight.
While many drivers will never dare challenge themselves with the brutal nature of a 24 hour race, Lewis will make two 24 hour race starts before the month is out! The Dunlop 24H Dubai event will mark the multi-time American Le Mans Series and GRAND-AM-race winner's 34th career 24-hour race start while the legendary Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 26-27, will bring his lifetime total to 35 twice-around the clock races. With the tally of race wins and podiums growing, there is no reason to expect the personable driver to envision the ticker to slow anytime soon.
As he did in 2012, Lewis will again pilot a car in the ultra-competitive SP3 class on the 3.35-mile/4.39km, full Formula One circuit of the Dubai Autodrome. The No. 148 has Lotus factory support but its six-cylinder engine will give up horsepower to the factory-backed V8s in cars ranging from BMWs, Nissans and Corvettes to Aston Martins - similar to which Lewis drove in his Dubai debut.
Lewis left for Dubai directly from a test session at the famed Daytona International Speedway (DIS). Driving the No. 16 Napleton Racing Porsche Cayman in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series' pre-season "Roar Before the Rolex 24" January 4-6, Lewis set the quickest lap time of the weekend for the new GX class. The speed was a good omen for the upcoming North American sports car racing season-opener.
In his career, Lewis has piloted every major class of sports car from prototype to touring car in 24-hour races. He has made three starts at the "grandfather" of all endurance races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1999, 2000, 2003) leading his class in 2003 and he has 15 starts at North America's only professional 24-hour race, theRolex 24 At Daytona (1997-'02, '04-'12). Lewis has five starts at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring ('04, '05, '10-'12) winning his class in '10 and taking podium finishes in '04 and '11. Other endurance race starts include six Petit Le Mans ('98-'01, '03, '10) and seven 12 Hours of Sebring (1997-'98, 2000-'03, '10).
Currently, 82 cars are on the 24H Dubai entry list and expected to take the green flag for the 14:00 p.m. (local) start on Friday, January 11. Qualifying for all classes takes place at 3:00 p.m. that same day, followed by an SP3 qualifying session at 4:15 p.m. Two hours of night practice begins at 6:00 p.m. Cars take to the grid at 1:00 p.m., Friday. The race will take the checkered flag at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 12.
Quotes Shane Lewis
On joining Cor Euser Racing 1: "The team knew I was competitive last year but that the car I was in had mechanical issues. Cor wanted to put together a team of drivers that could win this year's race. Once I knew their commitment for a victory, I jumped at the opportunity to race the No. 148 Lotus Evora. We have factory technicians here for support and the team is a well-oiled machine. It won't be an easy task, winning a 24-hour race never is, but we came here to win!"
Shane Lewis, Dunlop 24H Dubai debut, 2012.
On returning to the 24H Dubai: "Last year I came to the racenever having driving the car, the track or even having visited the Middle-East. This year, I come back with all that knowledge in my back pocket. This is not an easy race to win. The competition is intense and the track is fast. It is really easy to get mixed-up in someone else's mistake. However, I think I am with a team in Cor that really understands what it takes to win a race like this. I know my friend and longtime co-driver Vic Rice knows what it takes and the other drivers, Henk and Trevor, have good reputations. We aren't underestimating the challenge but we are also quietly confident."
On making his 34th career 24-hour race start:
"I never started out to be an endurance driver. I just wanted to be a racecar driver. Now, about to start my 34th and then 35th career 24-hour races, I have to admit that I like the challenge of them now. It takes so much to be successful in one of these races. Not everyone can do it. You have to be fast but you also have to be smart. The sport has changed a lot since my first 24-hour start. It used to be you ran at 80 percent, now you are 100 percent the full distance. But, I think that has increased the importance of knowing how to reach the end. You have to think about every second of every lap and put the car in the right place every time. One misstep and you're done. I love the challenge of that!"
On racing back-to-back 24-hour races:
"I am really excited about the next few weeks! As different as the two races seem to be on the surface, there are a lot of similarities. Beyond the obvious distance connection, both races are massive international events. We have factory cars from all over the world to compete with at both tracks. In each race we are running a smaller displacement engine with a really talented driver lineup and I am new to both operations. We're going to have our work cut-out for us both here in Dubai and back in Florida but I think we have the programs to surprise a lot of people."
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