Daytona 24: AIM/Doncaster Racing race report

AIM Autosport's debut performance in the Rolex 24 At Daytona certainly belied the team's rookie sports-car status. Lead driver Mark Wilkins combined with David Empringham, Brian Frisselle and Burt Frisselle for a fifth-place finish in the No. 61...

AIM Autosport's debut performance in the Rolex 24 At Daytona certainly belied the team's rookie sports-car status. Lead driver Mark Wilkins combined with David Empringham, Brian Frisselle and Burt Frisselle for a fifth-place finish in the No. 61 Lexus-powered Riley Mk XI, backed by Exchange Traded Gold, Barrick Gold Corporation, RBC Royal Bank and Telus' Mike Network. The team started the race from 27th on the grid after a starter problem negated its 17th-place qualifying position. The drivers steadily worked through the field to race in the top 10 for more than 23 hours of the 24-hour race.

Doncaster Racing also posted a solid start to the season, leading the GT class during the second half of the race and finishing eighth. Season drivers Dave Lacey and Greg Wilkins were joined by Lance David Arnold, Johnny Mowlem and Tom Papadopoulos for the race. With two previous class podiums at the Rolex 24, the No. 17 MineStar Tim Hortons Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car was a strong contender for the class victory until a coolant hose leak and a throttle cable problem put the top step out of reach.

Ian Willis, AIM Autosport co-owner: "I'm speechless."

David Empringham: "I think we can be pretty proud of fifth place -- first time here as a team, the car ran just unbelievably. The guys did a great job and we had a lot of good luck. In the 24th hour, the car felt the best it did all race, a good testament to the team."

Brian Frisselle: "It's awesome! It's our only finish at the Daytona 24. A top-five is great, especially for a new team. Great teammates, great crew, I can't say enough good things. We want to thank Lexus for giving us such a great motor to make it all the way."

Burt Frisselle: "I can't say enough about how special this is for me, to be here with AIM Autosport. The work they've done, the job they put into this car to get it ready, not having a program last year in DP and being a start-up team in the series, coming in and claiming a top-five proves that they know the business they're in. This is my best memory here at Daytona yet and I hope there are many more in the future. I look forward to coming back next year so we can try to run for the Rolex [watches, awarded to race winners]."

Mark Wilkins: "It's amazing! AIM Autosport did a great job. [I've raced for] seven years with these guys, and it feels great to come out to a first 24 in a DP car and be in the top five. We stayed out of the garage, a testament to the hard work that the guys put in at the shop. It's really been a huge team effort and this just goes to show it. Hopefully, we can build on this great result and have a successful year."

John Lacey, Doncaster Racing partner: "I'm a little disappointed. We obviously had the strongest car out there all day and one simple rubber water hose burst in the middle and took us out. But the crew did a fantastic job and we worked hard to get back in it. We're in 20th place -- overall -- in both classes and we're the junior class. So with 19 cars in front of you and 49 behind you, you've got to take your hat off to the crew and drivers."

Dave Lacey: "It's unfortunate the rad hose really let us down. Other than that, the car was unbelievable, the stops were absolutely terrific, the guys worked very well together as a team. Lance did a terrific job in the middle of the night in the rain and I was really surprised by Tom's pace -- he did a terrific job as a new guy to the team. Greg is a journeyman, he just keeps going around, he stays out of trouble. I'm thrilled with the effort, but the result is a little bit disappointing. I think we had a podium car and we got let down by a 50-cent piece."

Johnny Mowlem: "The Doncaster team put together a fantastic car. Twice we worked our way right back to the front and were leading when we had a small problem with a large effect. Obviously, I'm very disappointed right now that we didn't win because we had the car to win, but I'm so very pleased for the team that we made it to the finish."

Greg Wilkins: "It's great to finish a 24-hour race, regardless of where you finish. Just getting to the end is a great accomplishment. Finishing eighth [in GT] and 20th overall is huge for the team. We would have easily been on the podium if we didn't have that little part break in the 16th hour. I think the team did a fantastic job. For AIM to bring both the GT car and the prototype to the 24 Hours of Daytona for the first time and have the GT car finish eighth and the prototype finish fifth just is unbelievable. That should go in the record books."

-credit: aim autosport/doncaster racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers David Empringham , Burt Frisselle , Johnny Mowlem , Dave Lacey , Greg Wilkins , Mark Wilkins , Brian Frisselle , Tom Papadopoulos , Lance David Arnold