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Didier Theys On Front Row At Rolex 24

31 January 1998

Daytona Beach, Florida Didier Theys qualified the #30 Moretti Racing MOMO/Yokohama Ferrari 333 SP on the front row today, along side the polesitting #3 Scandia Ferrari 333 SP, qualified by Yannick Dalmas. Their unofficial qualifying times were a record 1:39.195 and a speed of 129.20 mph for Dalmas and 1:41.295 and a speed of 126.52 mph for Theys. Last year's polesitter was Fermin Velez in the #3 Scandia Ferrari, who set a time of 1:40.456 and a speed of 127.578 mph. Final qualifying for the balance of the 77-car field will be tomorrow at 2:20 p.m. EST.

"We decided to go with the race set-up and not worry too much about qualifying," said Theys, who collected the pole for the 24 Hour race here in 1996. "Our focus here is to win the race, so today we were working on our race set-up. Hopefully we'll be around at the end of 24 hours on Sunday afternoon. We didn't really test a lot here. We came with a brand new car during Test Days. We're on the front row for the race, and we're pleased about that."

Arie Luyendyk
Arie Luyendyk
Theys and teammates Mauro Baldi, Arie Luyendyk and team owner/driver Gianpiero Moretti are optimistic about this years' 36th annual running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. "Daytona is a special place for me," said the venerable Moretti. "The last two years we have been very close to winning. We lead many laps, but just were not graced with the victory. Both years we were in pit number one. This year we moved to pit number 22, right in front of Victory Circle. Maybe this will bring us better luck since we are much closer."

This is Moretti's 14th appearance at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Last year the team finished fourth in class after a small oil leak caused an electrical wiring fire that cost the team valuable time and track position of thirty laps. In 1996, Moretti and teammates Theys, Bob Wollek and Massimiliano "Mad Max" Papis finished in second place, a mere 65 seconds short, the closest margin of victory in the history of the 24 Hours of Daytona race.

Last June Moretti and co-drivers Theys and Papis joined efforts for Moretti Racing Ferrari team's inaugural appearance in the 24 Hours of LeMans, where they finished third in class and sixth overall in Ferrari's first LeMans finish since 1974.

Mauro Baldi, a newcomer to the Moretti Racing team, but no stranger to Ferrari, is pleased with the performance of the car. "The Ferrari is a beautiful car and Moretti's team does a good job in preparation," said the former official Ferrari test driver. "Tonight we will have night practice and sort a few things out, but we're happy with the set-up we have."

Arie Luyendyk, last year's Indianapolis 500 winner, adds another strong element to the team. Although most of his experience has been in Indy- and Formula-style racing, Luyendyk is a past winner of the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1989, and claims a second-place finish in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1986, both in a Nissan.

Sponsorship for the Moretti Racing Ferrari 333 SP team come from Yokohama, MOMO, Breed Technologies, Lista and MoKart Moretti Indoor Karting.