Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Looks To Win First Rolex 24 at Daytona TAVARES, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2007) -- After an impressive third-place finish in last year's Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team returns this year...
Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Looks To Win First Rolex 24 at Daytona
TAVARES, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2007) -- After an impressive third-place finish in last year's Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team returns this year with drivers Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Long and Romain Dumas hoping to capture its first Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series Rolex 24 at Daytona win Jan. 27-28.
The trio of Porsche factory drivers will pilot the Alex Job Racing prepared No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche powered Crawford Daytona Prototype. Bergmeister, who is a two-time Rolex 24 at Daytona winner, knows just how difficult it is and what it takes to win this type of race.
"You need a lot of luck," Bergmeister said. "The strategy should be to keep your nose clean until the last couple of hours and then push as hard as you can. In the beginning, you just need to try to stay on the lead lap for as long as you can. I think we have a great driver lineup, a great team and I am optimistic that we will finish really well."
After dominating many of last year's Daytona test sessions and putting the No. 23 Porsche on the pole to start last year's race, the team proved just how competitive the car could be. However, 55 laps into the race the car sustained a broken rear boot on the car's right rear half-shaft. Following the first half-shaft change on lap 55, the team went seven laps down after leading. After making repairs, the trio of drivers set out to make up what appeared to be an insurmountable deficit. And, the drivers did just that, they retook the race lead on lap 486. The car held the lead during the early morning hours until the sun came up, bringing with it, the second axle boot failure. Once again the drivers were forced to push the car, but simply ran out of time settling for a third-place finish.
"Running for the overall win, in a 24-hour race, is much different than running in a GT class," Long said of his experience competing in the Daytona Prototype class last year. "Now that I got one of those [a DP class finish] under my belt, I know a lot more of what to expect and how to manage traffic, which is going to be the key to consistent lap times.
"I have no doubts that the Ruby Tuesday Team will have the car well-prepared. I think the team knows the little glitches we had last year and that they have looked at those [issues] extra carefully. It is always a test, in a 24-hour race, to get to the end without any problems. I think whoever does that or has the least amount of problems and reacts the quickest is going to win. And, hopefully that is us. Jorg and I are working real well together and it is great to have Romain on board. He has been doing a great job as the third driver. He has really brought a lot to the table. We're happy that all three of us are working well together and we're pretty confident."
"When Porsche asked me to drive with the Ruby Tuesday Team, a team that I know very well because I drove with them in ALMS GT, they told me that Porsche and Crawford was a good package," Dumas said. "The target is to get the best finish we can, but why not try to win? But, when you see the long list of quality drivers and the names of the teams who are competing, it will not be an easy race. We will try to keep the nose clean and see what happens. It will be a long race and I am convinced that Porsche has a good engine for this type of race."
"We've got a great team and a great set of drivers," team owner Alex Job said. "We've got a great car/engine combination and I believe we can get it done. I believe we will be well-prepared to make a solid challenge for the race [win]."
The German Bergmeister is a two-time winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona and will make his sixth consecutive start. He is looking for his first-ever Rolex 24 win in a Daytona Prototype. He captured the GT class win in 2002 and was the overall winner in 2003. His best Rolex 24 finish in a Daytona Prototype was fifth in 2006.
After a third-place finish in last year's Rolex 24 in the DP class, Long looks to improve two positions and join Bergmeister as an overall winner. The Las Vegas, Nev., resident will make his fourth consecutive Rolex 24 start. His three previous starts include two GT class starts and one DP start, respectively.
Frenchman Dumas will make his third Rolex 24 start and his second in a Daytona Prototype. Dumas made his Rolex 24 debut in 2002, finishing third in the GT class and 10th overall.
The 45th running of the Grand-Am Rolex Series 24 Hours at Daytona airs from 1 to 2:30 p.m. (EST) Saturday, Jan. 27 live on FOX. The broadcast will switch over to Speed Channel from 2:30 to 6 p.m. (EST) and from 8 to 10 p.m. (EST). Speed Channel resumes coverage at 6 a.m. (EST) Sunday, Jan. 28.