Rolex 24 -- Hour 17; Three-Hour Yellow Flag For Fog and Four Porsches in the Top Five in GT as Sunrise Arrives at the Daytona Speedway
Daytona Beach, FL -- January30 -- At 5:00 am Eastern time, or lap 426 of the 49th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, there was a routine yellow flag for a GT car that hit the tire wall, and then the fog rolled in. It came over the west end of the Speedway, covering NNASCAR turns one and two, and within a couple of minutes, engulfed the entire 3.56-mile circuit, preventing the race officials from seeing the track and the corner workers from seeing from turn-to-turn.
The field of cars were forced run in line without any passing allowed for almost three hours, freezing the standings while everyone waited for the sun to rise and burn off the fog. The field finally got the green flag just before 8:00 AM EST -- with Porsche teams occupying four of the top five positions in GT.
One lap behind the leading Dempsey/Foster/Long/Espenlaub Mazda RX-8 sits the TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup being driven by Wolf Henzler, Brendan Gaughan, Andy Lally, Steve Bertheau, and Spencer Pumpelly. This car was the fastest in qualifying, but was removed from the pole for a rear wing mounting violation. Andy Lally is currently driving. Only four seconds behind is the TRG/Black Swan Racing Porsche of Jeroen Bleekemolen/Tim Pappas/James Sofronas/Patrick Pilet/Bret Curtis, with Pappas behind the wheel; at hour 17. One lap behind them is the Paul Miller Racing Porsche Bryan Seller/Rob Bell/Bryce Miller/Tim/Sugden, with Sellers driving, while, in fifth place, four laps back, is the pole-sitting GT TRG Porsche of Lucas Luhr/Dominik Farnbacher/Tim George, Jr./Ben Keating.
Kevin Buckler, owner of the TRG Porsche team, was frustrated with the fog delay, but feels his team is poised for a top finish.
"We have three of the top five and four of the top 10 in GT. The No. 67 car has been running without a clutch since midnight. That requires finesse by the drivers with the throttle blip on down-shifts and a LOT of pushing by some tired crew to get the car rolling out of the pits to get into first gear. We were leading at the 12-hour mark when we decided to change the brakes. We needed to return to the pits and bleed them as the pedal went to the floor when Wolf tried to pump them. That put the car down three laps and we have spent the night getting them back. The 66 car is running without the adjustment of the rear sway bar, which makes keeping up with double stint tire wear a little tricky. Other than that the car has run fast and Tim George and Ben Keating are really holding up their end of the deal. The No. 54 car is right on pace. No real big problems just some tough luck with yellows and a few spins off of the track. The fog delay is a new one on me. However it proved to be a nice break, so I ran back to my coach and took a shower. We have plenty of time to come back and win this. Possibly have more than one on the podium," said Buckler. The Andrew Davis, Leh Keen, Marc Lieb, Hurley Haywood Brumos Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car was in the lead during the first part of the overnight, but a broken radiator resulted in a lengthy pit stop, putting the team in eighth place,14 laps behind the leaders.
The Flying Lizard Porsche Riley Daytona Prototype, which sat on the pole and led the first 52 minutes of the race, lost 18 laps to the field after an off-road excursion. The team, which has turned the fastest lap of the event (Joerg Bergmeister) and the fastest lap at night (Patrick Long) was plagued by a flat tire at the seven-hour mark, and then had another long stop to change and bleed the brakes. Johannes van OverBeek is now in the car, which is in 12th place 17 laps behind the leader.
-source: porsche motorsport