Action Express Racing Captures Rolex 24 Victory in Team Debut
Going into the 2010 Grand-Am Rolex season, the Action Express Racing team generated quite a buzz around the paddock, but after taking the Rolex 24 win in their first outing, they have become the talk of the town. Considered by most to be an underdog in the Daytona classic endurance race, the new team was cautiously optimistic as it launched an entry that combined the familiar Riley chassis with a Porsche based V8 engine, a combination thus far untried.
Encountering some difficulties in practice sessions, the crew worked hard to make some changes and the drivers' concerns soon vanished as they found a much improved car for the race. In an event marked with challenging conditions and a high rate of attrition, the Action Express #9 turned in a fast and consistent performance lap after lap as many of the more favored entries fell out of contention.
Qualifying and starting the race was Joao Barbosa, who also took it to the checkered flag for the #9 Action Express car's inaugural win. "It was just unbelievable for our first start as a team," Barbosa said, "especially under difficult conditions like the 24 Hours. Many of our crew are familiar to us from last year but it was a new engine, so we had to work really hard to adapt it to the Riley chassis. We were struggling at practice and decided to try a new setup for the race and it worked well it was very reliable. Nobody thought we could win in a Porsche V8 but we proved them wrong."
Ryan Dalziel agreed, saying "All four of us went into this race with a major unknown. I knew the one thing the team would go with was reliability, and I felt if we can be reliable, we could be there at the end. But after the first couple of hours we could see we were also fast. The important thing is that we never went off track or had any mechanical problems that cost time in the pits that is a huge achievement for any team. It makes it a little bit sweeter that we were really the underdogs."
Although they avoided major problems that befell many cars, the team did face their own difficulties. Issues with the clutch in the early wet conditions improved once the track dried. Later in the race the problem resurfaced, along with throttle pedal issues. Mike Rockenfeller explained, "The throttle pedal would stick sometimes, but the crew was able to find a way to fix it. There we could see just how strong this team was I stayed out as long as I could while they figured out a solution, then they got it repaired while I was in for a pit stop and we didn't lose any additional time."
Terry Borcheller acknowledged the challenges, saying, "A lot of the problems are just teething pains for a new team and a new motor, and are to be expected. When you see things not going exactly according to plan in the developmental process, expecting to win sometimes seems a little unrealistic. But our managers expected us to win and our team was trying to do everything they could to put us in a position to win, so it made me start to believe it, too. To win this race and have the best time against the best drivers in the world, it's really special. It was an amazing pick to select the drivers they did to do this race - they've really carried the ball for Action Express."
The team will take the next few weeks to celebrate and then regroup as they prepare for their next race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, to be held on March 6th. It should come as no surprise to anyone that they expect to win.
-source: action express racing