Daytona 24: Doran Racing No. 78 early out report

Electrical Problems Knock Doran Racing's No. 78 Out of the Rolex 24 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 28 - Doran Racing's DORAN JE4 Ford No. 78 started fourth in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway Saturday, but it was forced to retire from...

Electrical Problems Knock Doran Racing's No. 78 Out of the Rolex 24

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 28 - Doran Racing's DORAN JE4 Ford No. 78 started fourth in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway Saturday, but it was forced to retire from the event around the six-hour mark due to electrical problems.

The official order of finish won't be posted until Sunday afternoon, but at midnight the car, which was sponsored by 1 Cigarette Boats/Lip-Ship Performance, SLS Audio and Ryan Companies, was being scored as 28th in the Daytona Prototype class and 56th overall.

All three of its drivers - Sebastien Bourdais of St. Petersburg, Fla.; Raul Boesel of Sao Paulo, Brazil and B.J. Zacharias of Cincinnati - got to drive, but in the end a problem with the car's wiring harness forced it out.

After qualifying fourth, Bourdais was at the wheel of the car when a right-rear suspension piece broke about an hour and 43 minutes into the race, and it was only with a nifty piece of driving and some luck that he didn't hit the wall when it let go.

The Doran Racing crew replaced the component and had the car back on the track quickly, but the entry lost several laps in the process.

"I was in NASCAR 4 when a suspension piece broke in the right rear," Bourdais said. "I didn't spin; there was no room to spin. The wall was right there, but I didn't hit it."

Boesel drove the car after it returned to the fray, but then the electrical problem surfaced. Making the best of things, he nursed it as best he could.

Despite the problems the car was running approximately the same lap times as its sister car, the No. 77, which led the race while the No. 78's suspension piece was being replaced.

Zacharias then took his turn, but the electrical problem got worse. Repairs would have taken more than an hour, and coupled with the laps lost to the earlier problem, the decision was made to stop. Zacharias was in the car when it retired, although Bourdais was on deck ready to drive again.

"We've sort of been chasing an electrical gremlin all week, but it really showed up in the longer runs," Zacharias explained. "The battery voltage was 11 and a half when I was in, and we'd lose everything; fuel pressure, power steering, everything. I think we put three different batteries in it. We would have had to change the starter and the alternator and some other things, and it would have been an hour and a half to do everything, so we just pulled it in.

"This deal was designed to run in the top five; with the earlier suspension piece problem and now this, we just called it quits," he continued. "At least this way the car is in one piece and the tire bill won't be too bad.

"I learned a lot. I had two excellent co-drivers and a great team," he added.

"When Raul was in the car the battery voltage was between 13 and 12, but he was able to develop a rhythm and deal with it. He loved driving the car; he said he had a lot of fun.

"I think I did a 49 something when I was in the car, and the other car [the Doran Racing No. 77] wasn't doing that when it was running fifth, so if we hadn't had the problems we would have been right there.

"I want to thank the team; our sponsors, 1 Cigarette Boats/Lip-Ship Performance, SLS Audio and Ryan Companies; and Ford. We'll be back, and next time we'll do all 24 hours," he vowed.

More information is available on the team's Web site at doranracing.com.

-dr-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Sébastien Bourdais
Teams Doran Racing