Champ Car Stars Run into Early Troubles in Rolex 24 at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 6, 2005) -- The day started in a bad way and never got any better for Sebastien Bourdais, Paul Tracy and Cristiano da Matta at the Daytona International...
Champ Car Stars Run into Early Troubles in Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 6, 2005) -- The day started in a bad way and never got any better for Sebastien Bourdais, Paul Tracy and Cristiano da Matta at the Daytona International Speedway as the three most recent champions of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford settled in for 24 hours of racing in the country's most prestigious endurance event.
The early troubles that plagued both the #79 car that Bourdais and da Matta piloted as well as the #54 car of Tracy meant that the only joy the titlewinning trio would get would be from watching Rocky Horror Picture Show on the infield movie screen as they would all find their races over before the event's halfway point.
Tracy's Bell Motorsports machine had to give up its 15th starting spot and took the green flag from the rear of the field as a brake bias problem forced Tracy's teammate Terry Borcheller to pit on the pace lap. Bourdais and da Matta each had problems in the Silverstone Racing machine, bringing out the race's first caution flag after an offcourse excursion on Lap 17. The day got worse in rapid fashion for the #79 team, triggering three more caution periods with the last one finally putting paid to the day with a trip into the tire barrier.
Tracy and his Bell team overcame the early problems and were threatening to climb into the top 10 after Tracy drove a spirited stint before handing the car off to his teammate Ralf Kelleners. But their day would end soon after as cooling problems led the team to discover a much deeper problem in the oil system that led to the team's retirement just before midnight.
The problems weren't limited to those Champ Car drivers with championship rings at a tough Rolex 24. Guy Smith, who drove with Rocketsports in the Champ Car World Series a year ago, retired before Bourdais and da Matta as his Orbit Racing machine finished 54th, three spots behind the #79 machine. Veteran Champ Car star Roberto Moreno saw his team run 58th of the 62 entries, while the Ten Motorsports team that featured recent Champ Car competitors Memo Gidley and Michael Valiante placed 42nd.