TruSpeed Motorsports Notes and Quotes: Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA, Fla. (January 29, 2007) -- The TruSpeed Motorsports team with drivers Timo Bernhard, Charles Morgan, Rob Morgan, and B.J. Zacharias finished eighth overall in the No. 47 Querencia Golf Club, Los Cabos/TruSpeed MotorCars/Wright Tuning/VelocityVille.com Porsche-Riley in the season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway for the Grand American Road Racing Association Rolex Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve. The team was one of 28 that participated in the flagship Daytona Prototype class.
. The team completed 636 laps around the 3.56-mile infield road course at Daytona International Speedway. The winning team completed 668 laps.
. The team's fastest lap was its third circuit, with a lap time of 1:46.796 seconds.
. The team fought a transmission leak in the early stages that cost the team several laps on pit road.
. A radiator puncture in the middle of the night also cost the team several more laps on pit road.
. An engine problem limited the power output for much of the event, limiting top speeds on the long straight-aways and holding overall lap times to two to three seconds behind the leaders' times.
. By maintaining pace and sticking to their pre-race plan, the team was able to make up positions throughout the race as attrition took its toll. Attrition gave the team two positions within the final two hours.
On the transmission leak that forced several pit stops for repairs:
The team started out running laps that were well within its pre-race targets. Simulations showed that average laps of 1:47 should give the team a solid chance at finishing in the top five. However, smoke started to billow out very early, forcing pit stops for evaluation and repair.
"On the third or fourth lap out I got a call to come in and pit. I didn't really understand why, but it was pretty obvious after that it was due to the oil leak out of the gearbox. It wasn't a big leak, but it was spraying oil on the gearbox and causing a lot of smoke. We had to come in four or five times to get it fixed. We lost five laps so it wasn't a good start to our race. But the car was still running and that early in the going that is what was important." - Timo Bernhard
On driving in the rain, with little vision in the middle of the night:
Heavy rains left the track very wet overnight, with standing water in many sections of the racecourse. On top of treacherous track conditions, drivers fought visibility problems with spray from other cars and windscreen fogging inside the cockpit.
"I couldn't see anything, except for what was one to two feet in front of the car. I thought it was bad the first time I went out in the rain, and then to wake up three hours later to have two inches of water and worse conditions was surprising. What actually happened are we had a tear-off on the windscreen and moisture got between it and caused it to fog up. We came in for a pit stop and they were going to clean the window and they took that off and it was an immediate improvement. The goal was just to keep the car on the road. We weren't in a position to challenge anyone or run anyone down at that time. With some of the other problems, that was our goal once we were dealt the cards, we wanted to play them to the best of our ability." - B.J. Zacharias
On the consistency of the car from the start of the race to the end of the race:
Many teams that start the Rolex 24 don't see the checkered flag. Of those that do, several are running times no where close to what they could run at the start because the car has seen virtually a season's worth of racing action during one race. Finding a way to stay consistent is key to a solid finish.
"The car was amazingly similar between the first stint and the last stint. I am surprised. The handling has not changed, the power of the engine, the whole car is the same. We could run about the same laps at the end as we did in the beginning. We fought some issues with the engine and we were down a couple a seconds per lap, but we were very consistent. It was very comfortable, and that helped us save the car. We had some great spotters that helped keep us out of trouble, particularly on the straight-aways because the faster cars were closing about ten miles an hour faster." - Charles Morgan
Rob Morgan comments about racing with his father:
Many drivers have raced alongside their father in the past. There has been a father-son 1-2 finish in the Daytona 500 when Bobby Allison and Davey Allison finished in the top two positions. Rob Morgan has had the unique opportunity to race alongside his father in the sports car world for fifteen years, and share victories rather than race against him.
I am lucky enough that we have been doing it for quite a few years. I started racing about fifteen years ago and right when I started I was his co-driver. What is really neat are you looking at who was in this race, for two guys from Arkansas to finish eighth is really incredible. I think he may have been the oldest guy in the race, too. I think he's older than EFR (Elliott Forbes-Robinson). You have a 63 year old guy out there finishing in eighth and look at all the guys behind us. We were ahead of some of the biggest names in the motorsports world. Indy 500 winners, Daytona 500 winners, NASCAR champions and Formula One drivers. That says a lot about what we accomplished here. - Rob Morgan
On the highs and lows of racing for 24 hours non-stop:
There were many highs and lows emotionally during the Rolex 24. The TruSpeed Motorsports team faced its lowest point moments after the start, and hit their high within sight of the checkered flag.
"The lowest point was the beginning when we were having overflow issues with the transmission. That's not the way you want to start out a 24-hour race. That and the radiator puncture. You take those out of the equation and I think we were in the hunt for a top five. We came with hopes of a top ten as a goal, and even higher hopes of a top five. But all things considered we're not too bad where we are. There are a lot of guys that are a lot less fortunate than we were. I would say all that we went through, with the lack of visibility we fought, that is the highest point (finishing eighth). And the car is in one piece and that is always a bonus." - B.J. Zacharias
"The lowest point of the event was the start when the car was smoking and they kept calling us in. It felt like the event was getting off on the wrong foot. I would just want the race to run smooth from the very beginning and it didn't. Once we got over that we got into a rhythm, and we got a couple of pit stops and things started to come back to us. But those early stops were definitely a low point." - John Wright, crew chief
"Going into the race we were all really excited and we thought we would do well, and we did do well. But I think the lowest point of the race was actually the beginning. I think getting brought in for the overflow issue, I remember sitting on the pit box with my head in my hands. Right off the bat we were down seven laps. I
Just couldn't believe it. Then the positive side kicked in. At least it happened early and it gave us a lot of time to fight back. The middle of the night we had a radiator issue. It cost us a lot, and I guess it is a cliché but it was just a racing deal. Those things happen. You just change it as quick as you can. We changed it quicker than one of the other top teams that had a radiator issue. That says a lot about our guys and their ability to work fast. Then to pick up those two spots at the end of the race due to attrition, which was probably the highest point for us. When the sun came up we just wanted to finish in the top ten. For a long time we were 12th, then a couple of cars fell out and we moved up to tenth. Then late in the race a couple more cars fell out and we moved up to eighth." - Rob Morgan
On the quality of the team assembled by TruSpeed Motorsports for the Rolex 24:
"Timo has shown me again what a true professional is. He has done everything he can for the team and to achieve a team result. He is not here to show off his talent, he is here to be a successful part of the team. He said we should be proud of this result even though we didn't win because of the level of competition. He is a great young driver and he is going to go a long way.
"B.J. is the same. We threw him into the middle of hell with the rain. You couldn't see and you couldn't maneuver because of all the traffic. I think he did go straight through the bus stop (chicane) once but fundamentally brought the car home in one piece through all of the wind, and rain and storms.
"Rob did the team thing too. We've asked him to ride laps about 1:50 or so and he's done just what he's been asked to do. Everyone has worked together and done a great job. The crew has been outstanding.
"John is what I would call a consummate professional. On top of that, he's what we would call in the south a "worry wart". He worries about every detail. He is very clear about his instructions and what he wants done. I am not a detail guy and I am always amazed when I can see someone manage a thousand details and he has done it. He has helped with car setup and done a superior job. He's been on the box the entire 24 hours. Most of us have had at least a couple of hours of sleep, but he's been up there the whole time." - Charles Morgan
The next Grand-Am Daytona Prototype event for the No. 47 TruSpeed Motorsports team is still under consideration with a possible run at Homestead-Miami Speedway, a 400K race scheduled for March 24, 2007 that will be televised live on SPEED.
-credit: truspeed motorsports