The #23 XM SATELLITE RADIO SUPPORTED Porsche Crawford took the chequered flag at Daytona with a podium position in the bag after 24 hours of dramatic racing
Daytona, Florida - Having started from pole position and having led from the front during the opening hours of action, the #23 XM SATELLITE RADIO supported car was handed a deficit of 9 laps and 39 track positions after an unscheduled visit to the pits was required during the third hour to replace the driveshafts. Just after the 16 hour mark (2/3rds distance) the car - driven by Germans Lucas Luhr and Mike Rockenfeller and American Patrick Long - was back in the race lead after a terrific fight back in true Daytona traditions.
For XM SATELLITE RADIO which has targeted a long-term involvement in the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve, it was a baptism that has plunged them right into the thick of the action of one of the world's greatest sportscar races, the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
By the end of the 17th hour Lucas Luhr had consolidated the lead and was continuing to press on in an effort to build up a cushion over the chasing pack. The German and his team mates have been able to lap consistently 2 seconds a lap faster than anyone else throughout the race, amply demonstrating the potential of the Porsche Crawford combination. No one could live with the blistering pace being set by the XM SATELLITE RADIO car, but no sooner had the #23 machine had built up a 3-lap advantage than the driveshaft issue reared its ugly head once more, putting the Porsche Crawford back into the pits and costing it eight laps as a broken shaft was replaced.
Back out on track the XM SATELLITE RADIO supported car continued to crank up the pace and by the 22 hour mark it had moved up to fourth place, where, with the gaps between competitors now well spread out, it seemed destined to remain as the chequered flag loomed ever larger. However the Daytona Speedway often has a sting in the tail, and during the final minutes as the clock ticked down the third placed Red Bull/Brumos 'Daytona Prototype' suffered a tyre failure allowing the #23 car to take full advantage of its misfortune and grab the final podium position.
"The durability of the car's driveshafts has not been satisfactory," Ron C. Meixner, "it is one issue we will have to focus on post-race. We have though learnt a lot though about the new Porsche Crawford combination, in the toughest of circumstances. The Crawford has proved to be an excellent chassis and the new Porsche engine certainly has lived up to all the promise it has shown in testing. We're very sure we will be able to go forward in the future with much success."
The Target Chip Ganassi machine, shared by Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon, the experienced Scott Dixon and rising NASCAR star, Casey Mears, took victory in the 44th Rolex 24, the crew crossing the finish line after exactly 24 hours and 40 seconds of some of the hardest fought motor racing to be seen in recent yeasr. Three laps further back, having completed 731 laps of the legendary 3.56-mile road course were Luhr, Rockenfeller and Long who could be more than satisfied with what had been one of the finest comeback drives Daytona has seen. The trio - who led for 70 of the race's 734 laps - had to overcome no less than two major mechanical issues on their way to climbing onto the podium.
"It's been a terrific Rolex 24," says Marketing Manager Bill Colleran, "and an exciting and dramatic way to kick off XM SATELLITE RADIO's involvement! We were all very confident that the Rolex Sportscar Series was the obvious choice direction to take, and it has been totally justified, with close track action, a packed field, crowded grandstands full of enthusiastic fans and some of the biggest names in motor racing taking part. We are now looking forward to building on this excellent result and going forward this year in the Rolex Series." About XM Satellite Radio