Autometrics Motorsports took 23rd place overall and 13th in class in the Rolex 24 hour endurance race at Daytona International Speedway today in the Rennlist.com/ Suncoast / Case-it Porsche RSR. The team moved up an impressive 52 positions from...
Autometrics Motorsports took 23rd place overall and 13th in class in the Rolex 24 hour endurance race at Daytona International Speedway today in the Rennlist.com/ Suncoast / Case-it Porsche RSR. The team moved up an impressive 52 positions from 75th on the grid, the second greatest improvement in this years' race and among the largest advancements in the 39-year history of the Rolex 24. Also of historical significance, the Autometrics Porsche RSR was the only air-cooled, normally aspirated Porsche to compete in Rolex 24 this year and may also go down as the last ever to race in the annual endurance classic. The legendary RSR was Porsche's top factory race car for many years and the most popular choice for drivers in the Rolex 24 until replaced by the GT-3R variant of the 911 in 1999. For almost 30 years, the venerable 911 was known for having a motor cooled only with air until Porsche switched to the water-cooled powerplant found in the GT-3R, a move that raised eyebrows among some purists.
Driving the Rennlist.com/Suncoast Porsche/Case-it Porsche RSR were principal Autometrics driver Cory Friedman, US-based Porsche racers Lynn Wilson and Adam Merzon, and Basil Demeroutis based in London, UK. Wilson and Merzon competed last year in the Speedvision World Challenge championship with Friedman and will be racing in Grand-Am this season in a pair of Porsche GT-3 Cup cars. Demeroutis races for the BS Motorsport team and last year won the Intermarque Championship in a Porsche GT-3 Cup car. For 2001, he moves to the re-vamped Porsche Cup where he is tipped to be a series front-runner.
Demeroutis was the highest placed UK-based driver in either of the Rolex 24's highly competitive GT and GTS classes. Said Demeroutis, "I didn't expect the wet weather experience I've gained in the UK to come in so handy this weekend. Our crew did an amazing job to keep us in front of so many terrific teams with much more experience. To come here and do so well is really incredible."
Autometrics qualified 75th out of the 88-car entry on Friday with Friedman behind the wheel. Said Friedman, "I managed a 2:00.7 in qualifying which was about as fast as we thought the car could go. We were particularly pleased since we had been concerned about making the grid after the car crashed heavily into the tires during night practice on Thursday and was rebuilt overnight."
In the race, the 24 hours passed without major incident except for a brief visit to the garage to fix an electrical fault brought on by the heavy rain that persisted throughout much of the race. Said Merzon, "It seemed that every time I got in the car, it started pouring. Visibility was often next to zero, and the line through the corners was extremely narrow with all the mud and debris on the track."
The drivers received support during the race from many thousands of fans who followed the action on Rennlist.com, the largest site on the web for Porsche enthusiasts. Rennlist, a sponsor of the car, posted photos and live updates from the drivers during the race. Said Wilson, "We owe a special thanks to Rennlist and our other sponsors, particularly Suncoast Porsche dealership in Sarasota Florida, Poschesales.com and Case-it."
Said team owner Gordon Friedman, "This was a better result than any of us could have hoped for. The car performed phenomenally well as did the drivers, especially considering the conditions - not only the weather but also all the traffic they had to contend with." Autometrics, based in Charlotte, South Carolina, has over 15 years' experience racing Porsches in the US. Autometrics and Cory Friedman plan to compete in most Grand-Am Championship races for the 2001 season. This was the team's first time competing in the Rolex 24, and the first 24 hour race for each of the four drivers.
The Rolex 24 is the premier road race in the US. It is also generally regarded as the toughest endurance race in the world due to the high calibre of the drivers, the large number of entries, the 12 hours of darkness, and the challenging circuit which incorporates the 31 degree banking of the NASCAR oval.