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Riley Viper GTD Driver Lineup Set for Rolex 24

Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, Emmanuel Collard to complete team’s lineup for Rolex 24…

Photo: Brian Cleary/bcpix.com

Photo: Brian Cleary/bcpix.com

Riley Motorsports announced Friday the addition of Sebastiaan Bleekemolen and Emmanuel Collard to its GT Daytona lineup for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The duo will join full-season drivers Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 33 Viper Exchange-sponsored SRT Viper GT3-R for the twice-around-the-clock Florida endurance classic.

With Jeroen on Gulf 12 Hours duty in Abu Dhabi this week, his older brother Sebastiaan got his first taste of the V10-powered beast during a Riley-sanctioned test at Daytona International Speedway.

“I think the first time that I drove here in the U.S. was around four years ago and I did Laguna Seca, Petit Le Mans and Sebring,” Sebastiaan Bleekemolen said. “The first morning was my first time in this car, my first time at Daytona and the first time on the high banking.  It was a really nice experience.”

Frenchman Collard, who won the Rolex 24 overall with the Bill Riley-led SunTrust team in 2005, will turn his first laps in the car during next month’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Jan. 3-5.

“It is a very good opportunity for me to come back with Bill Riley and this new program with the Viper,” Collard said. “To be honest, I have never driven a front-engine car at Daytona. It will be the first time as I drove nearly my full career with Porsche with the engine in the back.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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