No. 41 Trench Shoring Porsche: Loss of Luck ends the Race Early for Becker, Malloy and Team Sahlen
Half the battle of the Rolex 24 is staying out of harm's way, the other half is running for twenty-four hours. Troubles on track were the cause for the early ending of the No. 41 Trench Shoring Porsche driven by Tom Malloy, Robb Brent, Jim Michaelian, Bob Michaelian, and backup driver Ernie Becker. With long races like the Rolex 24, teams need a skilled crew, competitive car, driver talent and an extra helping of race luck. The Trench Shoring/Team Sahlen/Porsche GT3 Cup car was set on everything except for the road racing luck. The No. 41 Porsche GT3 Cup car ran out of luck on lap 316 with a 29th GT class finish.
"We knew at the beginning of the race we were not going to lay out any track records with our laps. That was not the goal for any of us racers. We just wanted to come to the race and last the entire twenty-four hours," said Malloy. The strategy was working until the first bout of bad racing luck hit the No. 41 Porsche. Malloy was in the car when he saw the No. 6 Michael Shank Daytona Prototype approaching his side while trying to pass the No. 58 Brumos Porsche Prototype. Malloy tried to avoid contact but was sent on a ricocheting ride between cars. The No. 41 Porsche bounced into the No. 6 and then into the No. 58 car. Malloy drove the Porsche back into the pit and the team was able to repair the damage. They refueled the Porsche and got it ready to return to the race. Grand-Am officials had other plans. They kept the No. 41 car on pit road for one hour and forty-five minutes until the No. 58 Prototype finished its repairs and returned to the track.
"I tried to avoid the incident. I did what I thought was the best move at the time. I learned a lot from this race," said Malloy. He was able to get back into the Porsche in the early morning hours for a third stint. Just as he was getting into a comfortable pace another on-track accident occurred with a GT car. Malloy missed the wreck but was unable to avoid the flying race car debris. The No. 41 Porsche went over pieces of the GT wreckage which ultimately ruined the under carriage.
The team decided that to fix the car would be in vain and retired into the garage. The No. 41 car completed 316 laps. "I feel bad for the guys, this incident screwed up their chances for another stint. Stuff breaks down on track and there is nothing you can do about it. There were car parts in the grass everywhere. It was like an explosion of parts. It was 5:30 AM in the morning when the accident happened and we had to pull our car out," said Malloy. Even though the No. 41 Porsche had a DNF, the Team Sahlen still ran well. "My co-drivers, Robb Brent, Jim Michaelian, Bob Michaelian did a great job in the car. And the No. 42 and 43 Team Sahlen GT cars finished 21st and 22nd. We still had a great time," said Malloy.
With only competing in a little more than half of the Rolex race, Malloy is left feeling a little empty and a hunger for another endurance race. "This being my second time out, I learned a lot. I am not sure if I will compete in the Rolex 24 again. But like any athlete after a big game or match they always talk about retiring and then they bounce back the next season. So who knows what will be my next event. I have known about the Rolex 24 for a long time and there is no denying that it is a special race."
Teammate Ernie Becker agrees that there is a very impressive element to the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. "Grand-Am has put on a very competitive racing program with a great rules package. These rules allow smaller teams such as Team Sahlen/Trench Shoring the ability to compete against the big boys, such as Chip Ganassi, in a world class racing series. It also opens up the playing field for drivers such as myself to gain experience and to make a name. Yes, I am disappointed that I did not get the opportunity to run my Sunday driving stint in the Rolex 24 due to the DNF (did not finish). The car did go 17 hours and to make it this far was a feat in itself. But I did get to race in the KONI Challenge race and had a great weekend in all. I would like to thank Team Sahlen and Trench Shoring Company for the opportunity I was given this race weekend."