Doran Racing Perseveres To Finish 16th in Class in Rolex 24 With Kodak Doran Ford
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 27 - Everyone associated with Doran Racing felt a little like Rocky Balboa after this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.
Despite a lot of problems, the Lebanon, Ohio-based team went the distance.
Cincinnati's Brad Jaeger crossed the finish line in 16th place in the top class, Daytona Prototype, at 1:30 p.m. Sunday with the team's Kodak Doran Ford. Ironically the team finished where it started, as Memo Gidley of Novato, Calif., qualified 16th in the car on Thursday.
A lot happened between the start and finish for Gidley, Jaeger, their other two co-drivers for this race - Fabrizio Gollin of Castelfranco Veneto, Italy, and Gabriele Gardel of Lugano, Switzerland - and the rest of the team.
One of the most positive things that happened was that Gidley led two laps, topping the field for laps 51 and 52 of the 546 trips the No. 77 made around the 3.56-mile road course.
The car's pace was also in line with the speeds run by the top finishers. Gidley set the car's fastest lap of the race on his lap 39 when he was clocked in 1:43.613 for an average speed of 123.691 miles per hour, quite comparable to other top runners.
On the reverse side, the team made at least seven trips to the garage area for repairs during hours two, four, seven, nine, 11, 13 and 21.
Only two were for contact. Gardel brought out a full-course caution with 7:35:58 gone when he had contact with a GT car, spun and lost a right-rear wheel in the west horseshoe. The car came into the garage on a wrecker that time.
With less than three hours to go a GT car dropped oil on the track right in front of Gidley. He slid in the oil and off into the grass, plowing straight into a tire barrier.
One of the most disheartening trips to the garage was necessary when even the car's scoring transponder wasn't working, refusing to give the team credit for the laps it was able to complete. That was both a rare problem and one that took a long time to fix due to its wiring being fairly inaccessible. That occurred around the 11-and-one-half-hour mark, and the car was in the garage at the event's halfway point.
Despite these and other problems the team constantly fought back all day. It even had with a gearbox issue with less than an hour to go, but it edged up the standings as it passed other Daytona Prototypes that failed to finish.
Kevin Doran: "We did one with Holbert that was bad, but I think this one was the worst. But I'm proud of our team. The guys kept digging and the drivers kept going. We were actually on pace the whole race; we just couldn't keep it out of the garage.
"We had tripod boot failures. We had two or three tire failures, one of which took a lot of the bodywork off the car. Debris off the tires wiped out the wiring for the transponder. That took a long time to fix because it's not very accessible.
"We had a brake problem that was strange. Debris got in the cockpit between the brake pedal and the floor, causing the brake pedal to not give the drivers any stopping power.
"Then when Memo had that crash, it damaged the splitter and the nose.
"At the end the gearbox was running hot. We stopped to cool it off three times and we did some preventative things to get it to last.
"Our Roush/Yates engine was flawless. It hasn't had a hiccup in really two and a half years, and it gave us no sign of any trouble at all this weekend. It ran cool and it gave us good power. I can't say enough about Roush/Yates and John Maddox."
Memo Gidley: "I ran over oil and I couldn't stop; I went straight into the tires in Turn 5.
"This race we had a lot of problems. This race is won by the team that has the least amount of problems. We had to replace a half-shaft about two hours into the race, and that sort of set the stage for our day.
"Our race pace was in line for a top-five finish, but we just had a lot of problems. But I guess a lot of teams can say that and were in the same situation.
"I'm optimistic about the year though, because from here on out I know it'll be better and better. We'll have a new car and a new aero package, and we'll get stronger and stronger.
"There's always a lot of traffic at the Rolex 24. The slower GT cars are hard to pass, but that makes it exciting.
"Yes, we had a lot of problems, but as a driver I really enjoyed it. I like the start of the race, and I like the night stints because you get in a good rhythm. It was fun driver-wise."
Brad Jaeger: "My first two stints were pretty uneventful. I was the first driver to go on rain tires; both of those stints were in the rain. It was good for me because I got to learn the car. We were fairly out of contention, so we used it as good track time for me. I'm going to run the full season with Memo, and eventually I'll need to know how these cars handle in the rain sometime this season, so it was great practice for me.
"I never had a flat tire or anything. I drove off once in the rain and I had to come in so they could clean the radiator screen out, but that was all.
"I had one dry session at the end. At that point I had to baby the car the whole time. We had to try to hold on to the suspension and the gearbox. I was in the car for the finish, which was fun.
"The Doran Racing team did a great job. The Doran Racing crew were determined to keep the Kodak car on track to finish, and they did it."
Fabrizio Gollin: "It was the strangest Rolex 24 that I've ever done.
"I think this race was very important for the Doran Racing team. Some things were very new, and I think this race is very important for the future. It's difficult not to have problems when you're working on new things.
"We were unlucky too. I hope for the Doran team to have helped improve the car a lot, and now Kevin can fight for the win. I hope to come back to race with him again too!"
Gabriele Gardel: "My first Rolex 24 was amazing. I'm really happy to be here. We were fast even with all the trouble. The team almost built a new car in 24 hours. I can't say enough about how hard this team worked.
"In the end we were just trying to keep going. We were working hard so we'll have a good car for the rest of the season.
"In GT cars, when you have a situation with tires, you can feel it. Here with these cars and the banking, when that tire exploded, it was a big surprise.
"In my second stint I had a small vibration and we came in to change tires because I don't know this package's limits. We're all new to Pirelli tires; it was their first Rolex Series race.
"I just want to thank the Doran Racing team for this super opportunity."