Article published by: Motorsport Collection
Liqui Moly Team Engstler & Mitchum Motorsports to Field Porsche at Rolex 24 David Murry, Franz Engstler, Gunter Schaldach and Joe Safina to Drive Virginia Beach, VA (December 21, 2011) David Murry, Franz Engstler, Gunter Schaldach and Joe Safina have been signed to drive the Liqui Moly Team Engstler Mitchum Motorsports Porsche entry at the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona. The veteran drivers will pilot the #20 Porsche 997 GT3 as the Liqui Moly livery returns to the historic twice around the clock race in late January.
Mitchum Motorsports is excited to be partnering with Liqui Moly and Team Engstler, who currently compete in the World Touring Car Championship, for the Rolex 24. It is especially fitting to see Liqui Moly return to the 24 hour race as there will be a number of past winning cars on display at the track for the race weekend, including the 1980 winning Liqui Moly Porsche 935 Turbo.
Drivers, crew and team have multiple Rolex 24 runs under their belts, making this the team’s strongest effort to date. “We have been a part of the Rolex 24 for the past 15 years in one way or another, so it is an honor to be working with Liqui Moly Team Engstler in the 50th anniversary race,” said team principal Chris Mitchum. “I have handpicked the entire crew for this race – from the engineers to the mechanics – and we are ready. David, whom I have teamed up with for multiple Rolex 24 hour’s with great success, is the perfect lead driver for this effort. Pairing David, Franz, Gunter and Joe is the right move to combine a mixture of speed and experience to have an opportunity to win.”
Murry, with more than a dozen previous Rolex 24 starts, brings experience and talent that is needed to be the anchor of the team. With thousands of race laps at Daytona – most of them in Porsches – David will be an asset both in and out of the car. He is expected to play a critical role in developing the race setup working with the team race engineers.
“I am looking forward to driving with the Mitchum Motorsports guys at Daytona. It is quite a special event,” said Murry. “I have driven for Chris several times before and every time has been a very impressive effort. I have worked with his engineers before as well so I know we will have a solid setup and a sound race strategy. Chris pays attention to the details, surrounds himself with great people and that’s what makes him successful.”
For Franz Engstler, who currently runs in the World Touring Car Championship and has won multiple championships around the world, this will be his Rolex 24 debut. He brings years of experience to the team and a passion for winning. Engstler has seen great success in many professional series including: Formula Three, German Touring Car, Asian Touring Car, German ADAC Procar Series, The Dubai 24 hour, The Nurburing 24 and the WTCC.
This will be Schaldach’s third Rolex 24 at Daytona, having previously competed in 2010 and 2011. In fact, his Rolex Series debut was the 2010 Rolex 24 so he is well acquainted with the rigors of endurance racing and just how much goes into putting a competitive car into this race.
“I am beyond excited to team up with Mitchum Motorsports for the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona. When I first heard of the possibility of racing with the Mitchum crew in the 24 I asked around to other drivers who had previously worked with the Team. After 5 out of 5 exceptional recommendations I jumped at the opportunity. This will be a new venture for me as I will be a brand new member to the team. This race is such an amazing animal as any tiny thing can take you out of contention but I have been told the Mitchum team has a great chance to stay out in front. I must also say I feel it is an honor to be included as one of the drivers of the #20 Porsche GT3 and I am looking forward to getting in the car at the Roar Before the 24 in a couple of weeks,” said Gunter.
Safina is an accomplished racer, businessman and entrepreneur. His racing career began back in 1995, starting off with Motorola Cup, IMSA Endurance, and Ferrari Challenge; then moving into Rolex GT competition in 2000. This will be his 6th Rolex 24, the second driving for Chris Mitchum. He’s finished in the top ten in four out of five races and he has stood on the podium in the highly competitive ST class at Daytona. He is returning specifically for the 50th anniversary race.
“I worked with Chris and the Mitchum Motorsports Team with success in the past and they run a tight ship. They pay attention to all of the details that make a difference in endurance racing. We will have the best prepped car possible, so it should make my job easy,” said Safina.
The Mitchum Motorsports team was in Daytona last week for the two day GRAND-AM Rolex Series test. Murry spent the bulk of the time working on team procedures and cockpit layout in addition to the regimented car setup work. “David is a true professional and he is able to give advice on all levels. He was able provide the feedback we needed to get the car ready for the test days in January. I have high hopes for this year’s Rolex 24 and this was a great step forward for the team,” added Mitchum.
The rest of the drivers will be joining the team at the track for the Roar Before the 24 test scheduled for early January.