Daytona 24: Doran-Lista Racing final report

Doran-Lista Racing battles back to finish second in top class Sunday in Rolex 24 at Daytona. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 1 - First the Doran-Lista Racing team had to start 31st in this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. Lead...

Doran-Lista Racing battles back to finish second in top class Sunday in Rolex 24 at Daytona.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 1 - First the Doran-Lista Racing team had to start 31st in this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

Lead driver Didier Theys carefully but swiftly picked his way through the field at the start on Saturday, and by the end of hour two of the 24-hour enduro he was in third overall.

Co-driver Marc Goossens had tussles with two different Porsches during his first stint, one of which caused quite a bit of damage to the DORAN JE4 Lexus #27. By the end of hour four the team was almost as far back as it had started, as it was in 29th place, nine laps down.

>From that point on Theys, Goossens and fellow drivers Jan Lammers and Fredy Lienhard Sr. did their best to keep the car running and to work their way back up through the field. Although they consistently had the fastest car on the track many times, it was clear that their game of catch-up was just that. After hours and hours stuck 12-14 laps back, it became evident that the team needed their main rivals to experience some of the same problems they'd had if they were ever going to catch up to them.

As luck would have it, they did. The most notable was the Howard-Boss Motorsports team of Andy Wallace, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr., which appeared to have the event firmly in control until just 20 minutes from the end on Sunday afternoon when their Crawford's left-rear Goodyear came off its rim and turned sideways, causing Stewart to spin out.

In the last hour the Doran-Lista team went from sixth overall and fourth in the Daytona Prototype class, nine laps down, to finish fourth overall and second in the Daytona Prototype class only to the overall winners, the Bell Motorsports DORAN JE4 Pontiac team of Terry Borcheller, Forest Barber, Andy Pilgrim and Christian Fittipaldi.

A third DORAN JE4 in the field, making its first start ever, was seventh overall at the finish. All three of these cars were built by Doran Designs, Lebanon, Ohio.

Most of the race was held under steady to driving rain which kept the drivers' visibility to a minimum and caused a three-hour full-course yellow and another three-hour red. In addition the car lost its windshield wipers and had radio problems almost from the start, as the drivers could hear the pit crew but the pit crew couldn't hear the driver or vice-versa.

But the team's perseverance paid off when two of its main rivals had problems late in the race, allowing the Doran-Lista squad to move up dramatically in the final standings.

Although his three co-drivers have all won this race before, some twice, Goossens was making his first start both at the Rolex 24 and at Daytona.

"It was a new challenge to me and a big challenge to go on the banking," he said. "The poor visibility in the car due to the weather was our biggest obstacle. My contact with that Porsche did a lot of damage. I simply didn't see the guy, but that basically destroyed our chances for the overall victory. We tried our best to catch up, and for my first time here and to be on the podium, I'm pretty happy."

"It was a tough race," agreed Theys. "We lost some laps on Saturday. We caught up some but not enough. That happens with Daytona many times, but it's not over until it's over."

"Given the circumstances and starting from 31st, I think we did well," said Lammers. "When you're an ambitious driver with an ambitious team and you come close to winning it again it's easy to be disappointed with second in class instead of the victory, but you have to block away that thought and be satisfied."

"Kevin and everyone on our team did a great job during very difficult conditions," said Lienhard. "Our team never stopped trying. You must never stop trying if you want to succeed in anything."

"It was the hardest 24 hours in my 20th anniversary year of this race," acknowledged team owner Kevin Doran. "The weather conditions and the competition made it incredibly difficult. It was a fantastic race, and just a taste of things to come in the Grand American Rolex Series this year."

As another acknowledgement of its accomplishment, the team received the SunTrust Hard Charger Award for being the team which improved its starting position the most during the race.

For more information see www.lista.com, www.listaintl.com, and www.doranracing.com. Lammers' Web site is at www.janlammers.com and Goossens' is at www.marcgoossens.com.

-dlr/lm-

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Jan Lammers , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Tony Stewart , Didier Theys , Christian Fittipaldi , Andy Pilgrim , Marc Goossens , Terry Borcheller , Forest Barber , Kevin Doran