An Interview with: 2010 GRAND-AM ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA / Daytona Prototype (DP) Podium Finishers WINNER ACTION EXPRESS RACING JOAO BARBOSA TERRY BORCHELLER RYAN DALZIEL MIKE ROCKENFELLER THE MODERATOR: ...
An Interview with:
2010 GRAND-AM ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA / Daytona Prototype (DP) Podium Finishers
ACTION EXPRESS RACING
THE MODERATOR: Let's bring up our winners from Action Express. Let's start with the hired guns. Mike Rockenfeller, could you talk about your time at the wheel of the No. 9 car?
MIKE ROCKENFELLER: When I came here, I have to say I didn't expect that we will be there at the end. And especially not in the first spot.
And I have to say also in practice we were struggling a bit with the handling, but the team did a really, really good job I mean to fix the car or to make a good setup. We were pretty much changing everything before the race on the setup.
And we didn't know what to expect and the guys on the team, I mean, they were sure it was going to be okay. And it was. And when I was first in the car I was struggling a bit to get up to speed and find my rhythm.
But from the second on, actually, the car was perfect to drive. And I think we could all try to get 100% out of it. And that's why I think we were leading most of the race.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan Dalziel, you gave us a great interview not too long ago. But we talked about you finishing second here. What's it like to win the Rolex 24?
RYAN DALZIEL: Every time you ask me that, you tell me it's the last time you're going to say it. From now on, no more; we're going to talk about winning it.
I want to go back to what Rocky said. I think all four of us went into this race with a major unknown. We were pretty lost in practice. And I think the one thing that I knew it was going to -- I knew the team was going to perform with reliability. I felt if we can be reliable we'll be there at the end.
After the first couple of hours it was obvious we were fast. And I think that regardless of what maybe happened with other cars, I think the important thing you take is that we never went off track. We never had any mechanicals, never had any flaws in the pits. I think this is a huge achievement for a team.
THE MODERATOR: Terry Borcheller, you won this event before in '04, and you won the '03 championship. What does winning this race mean to you?
TERRY BORCHELLER: It's really special. '04 was amazing, just because the way the race ended up in the last 15 minutes with us winning when Tony Stewart driving the Crawford broke. But that was also the first year I believe that a Daytona prototype won overall. So the competition was -- it's always there, but it was nothing like it is now.
So to win with the best teams represented in the paddock and the best drivers, it's really, really special. And especially to do it with the guys that I've done it with, I think I've probably known Rocky is longest. And Joao have both driven with me or I've driven with them before on a one-off.
But for these two guys to be able to win a Rolex watch and to win this race it's really special to be a part of that. And Ryan, I've gotten to know him a lot over the test days and the race weekends. I didn't know him that well before we started this venture. And I just think it was an amazing pick to select us four guys to do this race, because they really carried the ball and it was an awesome experience to be with them.
THE MODERATOR: Joao Barbosa, you won your class before in this event. But third last year for Brumos. You won the season finale for Brumos. Now you've transitioned to Action Express. Could you talk about how the team came together and your thoughts and winning its very first race?
JOAO BARBOSA: It's just unbelievable for first time the team is performing under really difficult circumstances like the 24 hours, did an amazing job. Basically most of the crew is the crew we had last year. So that was nothing new there.
But we had a new engine and we have to work on the setup really hard to adapt the new engine to the car. That wasn't real easy. But we never quit. The team kept working really hard. I'm sure everybody did.
But we were struggling just by the last practice before the race we decided to throw in a new setup for the race and hope for the best. And they kept working. They never quit. They did an amazing job preparing the car. Even if it's a new engine, they set up the engine so great to perform and to be reliable that we just have to drive.
And it was really a tough race. I heard Memo saying it's 100%, but really there's no sprint race for us. We were a little -- probably a little down power. Ganassi guys were saying they couldn't overtake cars on the straights. We couldn't do that. We had to work hard on the infield to make up that time. We were really strong. The car was really good through the infield and we were competitive. That was quite a good surprise for all four of us to have a competitive car in our hands and we just did the best we could and it worked out.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q: Joao, you mentioned that the car was down on power. How does this engine compare to the six liter engine that you had last year?
JOAO BARBOSA: The flat six we had last year, it's very different. It's a wired engine. We could use all six speeds. And sometimes in traffic using five speeds is not the best for us.
We had to work to have a good compromise to get the speed out of the car. But without compromising too much the slow corners. So it's quite a big difference. And drivability is very different as well, while the other one works really good on the high speed, this one works better on the low speed.
I think our strongest point was the infield. And that paid off as well eventually.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about, this team was formed fairly recently. And all the issues that that entails and a little bit, too, about Bob Johnson and how this all came to be about.
TERRY BORCHELLER: I don't know all the details, to be honest with you. But I know that Bob was involved with Brumos for a long time. He's been friends with as far back as Bob Snodgrass and now Dan Davis.
And he was involved with the development of the V8 in that whole program, and he really wanted to continue that and see it go into a Riley chassis.
And I'm glad that he did. And also you know one of the things that I've learned over the years is the experience of the team, a lot of it is being able to have the same guys around. It's really hard to keep guys together because it's hard to keep budgets together year after year.
But when you find successful teams, usually they're able to keep guys together for a long time. And I think that was in the back of his mind, with the second Brumos car leaving, and those guys needing work, it was a natural fit for him as far as having the shop space and being able to coordinate the effort with the Action Express program. And it worked out great. So far so good.
Q: Mike, just your thoughts when you saw the Ganassi car suddenly go in like that, knowing that was an unexpected pit stop?
MIKE ROCKENFELLER: I was in the lead before and then after the pit stop he was in front of me and I was trying to catch the car. I could see it. It was like, I don't know how many seconds. And all of a sudden he slowed down a little bit and I tried to get some slip stream, and he went in the pits. So I was actually quite happy about that.
But then immediately we started to get problems. And I couldn't believe it. We had no clutch for I think most of the race at the end. And also, which was at the same time really bad to have a throttle pedal which sticks sometimes.
So when you come down the straight with, what, with 190 something miles, you are not sure if it sticks or not and you don't have the clutch to press to disconnect.
So it was not easy. And then they fixed it. And there you could see how strong the team was because I stayed out as long as I could taking the risk that you go off track. But we had to.
And they found a solution. And we didn't lose any time on the pit stop. And I mean for us, of course, it helped that the Ganassi car had that problem. But on the other hand, like my teammates said, I think we did a really good job. We didn't put any scratch on the car.
We never went off the track like some other cars with cold tires or so. And that's all we could do. No mistakes. And then we see where we are at the end and we are here.
Q: You often hear about how a small inexpensive part can put a team out. Actually, we've also heard today that a wad of tape can make you lose three or four laps. But in your case, probably one of the most important thing was a little $2 can of WD40 that they kept spraying in the back. Could you talk about how crazy it is and how many thousands of dollars goes into preparation how something that simple can be the difference?
MIKE ROCKENFELLER: That wasn't enough. But that was the first try. And then we put a spring in, I think that's what they did, to help it to go back to idle position. Yeah, that's racing. It happens in Formula One. It happens everywhere. You try to prepare the car as good as you can, and at the end sometimes you lose because of, like I said, a few-dollar piece on the car.
But you can't change it. Sometimes the engine blows up; that's quite expensive. Sometimes it's a little piece, and you still can't win the race. Or the Porsche pedal, but it worked.
Q: Terry, I need to ask the question: Was there an appreciable difference between driving the V8 that you drove today and then the traditional Boxer 6 that has won so many races for the mark. Talk a little bit about that.
TERRY BORCHELLER: I think there are a lot of differences. I think the six-cylinder, it's really important that you keep it on the pipe. You keep it revved up. A lot more gear changes.
And that's probably the biggest change for us. I think the V8, once we have a little stronger development, I think that it's going to be better in traffic, too, because of the torque.
I don't know a lot of the mechanical differences. I know the motor originally was a little heavier. I think they've worked really hard to lighten it. But from a driving standpoint that's probably the biggest difference.
Q: For whoever would like to answer this, but, Rocky, you brought up earlier the fact that you guys struggled a bit with setup before the race. You didn't know how it was going to go. There's a lot that's shared with the Brumos team between you guys and Brumos. One is the engineer Paul Giltinan, and how much help were the Brumos guys in terms of getting the handle on this. Handling is a little different with the V8 engine.
MIKE ROCKENFELLER: That's the main point. You have two different engine packages. That's why we're not sure if it's going to work. But we tried to share information as much as we can, and I think that helped a lot. And, yeah, I mean, we were happy to have basically then two cars or data from two cars, and we could use it quite well and it's always an advantage, I think.
Q: I don't want you to take offense at this, but I think any team that kind of all comes together for their first time out, all of you have great resumes have done great things, but coming together for the first time out, like you mentioned, in a 24-hour race, I think it's probably fair to say that perhaps you weren't the favorites, the odds on favorites to win. If somebody could speak about how that must give this maybe a little extra pleasure out of that.
RYAN DALZIEL: I'm going to take this one. I think that Action Express put this team together with the expectations that we could win the race. And I think, like has been discussed already, there's huge amounts of experience within this team that obviously was involved through Brumos before. And obviously between the four of us, we've done plenty of endurance races and we've all been at the front end of them.
But I think we would agree, we didn't really come into this thinking we had a realistic shot. And purely because of pace. We didn't think we had the pace to be able to compete. But the guys, they worked their socks off overnight. And I think we all left the track on Friday night a little down in the dumps.
And we kind of left off with the clever guys to figure out what we need to do to get up front. And I think it was pretty obvious from the start we were faster. So it's definitely not an offense. I think it's a compliment to take it that way. So we're definitely thrilled, and I think it does make a little bit sweeter just to be the underdogs.
JOAO BARBOSA: I completely agree with what Ryan said. You know, just Action Express, nobody really knew the team before.
Even if it was a bunch of guys that worked last year with us, the team was new and the package was new. And definitely nobody thought that we could win with a Porsche V8. Because the team had the choice. They went to BMW, which is apparently one of the best out there, but it proved we could win with a Porsche. And that's what we need to beat teams with big experience like Michael Shank and Chip Ganassi Racing, it's a really cool feeling.
Q: Ryan, you leave this team to go to the No. 7 team. You go out in the points lead. Would you have even imagined this might have occurred, that you now are in the points lead and going elsewhere?
RYAN DALZIEL: I actually didn't know until a couple of days ago that my points would count. So for me I purely came here looking to win this race, and I thought it was a huge opportunity.
I could have stuck with Starworks and raced all 12 races with them. But I felt this was an opportunity to drive for such amazing people that gives the driver a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You never know if you're going to get that again to be surrounded by the Harley Heywoods and Don Davises.
And for me when the opportunity arose, it was something I did go to Starworks and they were supportive. And obviously it turned out well for me. But it's kind of ironic because Bill Riley who engineered the winning GT car is actually my engineer for the remainder of the season in the Starworks car.
So it's kind of a double victory for us and it's going to be an interesting season. Kind of unusual the way we're doing it. But it's the way it worked out. And Starworks had their program for this race and Bill Riley had his, and I had mine. And after this we regroup and go to Homestead. I know we'll be fast there. I was telling everybody, I know the trade secrets now for how these guys are going to do it. I didn't help them too much, but I took a lot from them.
Q: Joao, the Brumos guys went out with about three and a half hours to go. But yet they all got dressed and came back because they said in their mind there was some unfinished business because they wanted you to get -- because they still considered you part of the Brumos family. What connection there and is it another step in the completion of finishing off some unresolved business in their mind? I asked Darren Long, I said are they teammates? He said no, they're better they're friends. That's why they all came back and every one of them on the 59 car were there to watch you all. What does that mean to you?
JOAO BARBOSA: It's a race team. But it's a big family. I started with Brumos a couple of years ago. I couldn't ask to be in a better place than with Brumos when I started. And now with Action Express, even if we are two separate teams, after the practice is over, we all go have dinner together and we hang out, talk together.
So it's very special to be part of such a group. Not two different teams but to still share the same places. We all hang out together and it's very good to be considered part of the team. It's really a good feeling to be able to hang out with all those guys again even if we are two separate teams now.
Q: As far as the expectations, do you guys as a team, did you expect -- did you make any celebration plans before this? And how do you think the win is going to affect the moments before every race now, now that you got a win?
TERRY BORCHELLER: We did not make any celebration plans. Again, I think I've been talking a lot with Gary Nelson, our team manager, and I'm sure these guys have been getting all his e-mails, too. At the end of every one he says "expect to win." With some of the obstacles we were encountering, and a lot of it is just teething pains from a new team and a new motor. And they are to be expected.
But with those obstacles, it's hard to expect to win because you know the Ganassis of the world and the other teams like Chip's that do the preparation, that do all of the right steps, they're going to be there. And those are the ones you're going to have to beat.
So when you see things not going exactly according to that plan, because there's that development time or that development process, you know to expect to win is sometimes in your mind is a little unrealistic. And he just kept sending these e-mails with all the different stuff and obstacles and information. And at the end of every one, "expect to win."
So I think Gary expected to win, and I'm sure there were a few more. And from those e-mails, it got my hopes up to you know what, we're going to -- this team is trying to do everything they can to put us in a position to win. And it really put something in me I think to keep reading those. And I expected to win coming. Even though in the back of my mind I still didn't think it was totally possible until after the start.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.