Last weekends Rolex 24 Hour classic at the famed Daytona International Raceway provided plenty of thrills and drama, especially for Barber Dodge Pro Series Test Driver Oswaldo Negri, Barber Dodge Pro Series alumni Josh Rehm, and Barber Dodge Pro Series Driver Coach Jim Pace.
Negri and Rehm teamed up with Darius Grala and Barber Dodge Pro Series driver Guy Cosmo to drive in the new Daytona Prototype class, which is the new flagship class of Grand-Am Racing. The closed-cockpit racers are designed to provide close racing while keeping the development costs down for the participants. The Rolex event was the first race with the new cars, and the class showed great promise as teams tried to cope with learning the new chassis while also battling the challenges of a 24 hour race.
After qualifying fourth, Negri took over the car after Grala and moved up in the field, from the twenty-fifth spot into the top five, and top three in class. The Daytona Prototype Cosmo, Negri and Rehm were piloting did not have nearly the range that the GT class did, as they had to stop for fuel every 23 laps. The pair continued to put in the fast laps nonetheless, and kept the car in contention until late in the night, when the engine caught fire, leaving Negri stranded on course, unable to continue after the fire damaged the electronics in the car. The two were disappointed not to finish after putting in a strong performance, but are excited about the opportunities that their driving might present to them in the future.
In the GTS Class, Barber Dodge Pro Series Driver Coach Jim Pace, who already has several 12 and 24 hour race trophies in his collection, drove for the Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Corvette campaign. The experienced lineup had built up a considerable lead in class, with over twelve laps in hand with only two hours remaining, but transmission and cooling woes eventually allowed Andy Wallace to pedal his Mosler past the handicapped Corvette of Morgan to take over the lead in class, leaving Pace and his teammates with a second place for their efforts.
While all of the drivers had hoped for more out of the event, the lure of competition and the satisfaction of putting in fast lap after fast lap for 24 hours will no doubt bring them back to take on one of the greatest challenges in motorsports, the 24 hour enduro, next year.