TruSpeed Motorsports Finishes Eighth in Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA, Fla. (January 29, 2007) -- Although there were some unscripted hurdles from the beginning, the TruSpeed Motorsports team of Charles Morgan, Rob Morgan, Timo Bernhard, and B.J. Zacharias finished eighth overall in the Rolex 24 at Daytona for the Grand American Road Racing Association Rolex Series. Early problems with oil venting from the transmission and a balky powerplant which turned out to be an electrical issue, took the No. 47 Querencia Golf Club, Los Cabos/TruSpeed Motor Cars/Wright Tuning/VelocityVille.com Porsche out of contention to win, but by keeping with the pre-race playbook the team was able to claw back into position to score a top ten finish late in the race.
"When we were brought in for the overflow issue, I remember sitting on the pit box with my head in my hands," said Rob Morgan. "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. Then in the middle of the night we had a radiator issue. It cost us a lot, and I guess it is a cliche 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. Picking up those two spots at the end of the race due to attrition; that was probably the highest point for us."
The oil leak early on kept the team on pit road for several laps in the very early going. The leak wasn't severe, but enough to cause considerable smoke and raise notice from Grand Am officials.
"The third or fourth lap out I got a call to come in and pit," said Bernhardt. "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."
Another hurdle that had to be crossed, not just for the TruSpeed Motorsports team but for all teams still in the race at the time, was the heavy rains that fell overnight. Track conditions were difficult at best with standing water at various areas and visibility became an issue with intense spray and fogging of the windscreen.
"I couldn't see anything, except for what was one to two feet in front of the car," said Zacharias. "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, it was even worse. 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."
While most members of the team were able to find time to sleep for an hour or two throughout the night, crew chief John Wright stayed at his post on the pit box for the entire 24 hours. Wright had many nervous moments, starting with the transmission leak early on and then with an engine that wasn't producing max power.
"There was a time in the middle of the race when I thought we were losing the engine," Wright said. "When you think you might be losing the engine you need to make a decision. I talked to Charles and told him the engine might be going south and asked him if he wanted to keep throwing tires at it and keep running it. If we kept going, we'd keep wearing out the parts and we might not have a good result. Ironically, the problem we thought we were having which could have led to a blown engine healed itself. We didn't have the power we needed but the engine lasted. We got into a rhythm. Even some of the high profile teams, like the 10 car, they lost a clutch in the first hour. That's why they had to push it out of the pits after every stop. It seems like every team had an issue. But ours started early."
Charles Morgan has more endurance racing experience than ninety percent of the drivers in the starting lineup. Morgan enjoyed working with his teammates, and said the overall quality of driving and competition in the Rolex 24 was at an all-time high.
"Timo has shown me again what a true professional is," Charles Morgan said. "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. The same with B.J., 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. 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. John (Wright) is a consummate professional and the crew has been outstanding."
"The quality of driving in this event is vastly superior to any endurance event I have ever been in. I am absolutely blown away with the quality of the drivers, both in the GT and the Prototype divisions. The GT cars have done a great job here too. They didn't try to block and gave you a lot of room." concluded 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