Daytona24: TRG race report

TRG Wins Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona; TRG Finishes One-Two in GT Daytona Beach, Florida, TRG won the 47th running of the Grand-Am Rolex Series Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona GT race today. Justin Marks, RJ Valentine, Andy Lally, Patrick Long and...

TRG Wins Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona; TRG Finishes One-Two in GT

Daytona Beach, Florida, TRG won the 47th running of the Grand-Am Rolex Series Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona GT race today. Justin Marks, RJ Valentine, Andy Lally, Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister drove the No. 67 TRG Porsche 997 to victory by a narrow margin over their teammates. The No. 66 of Ted Ballou, Tim George Jr., Spencer Pumpelly, Emmanuel Collard and Richard Lietz came second, giving TRG a one-two finish to open Speed Weeks at Daytona.

The turning point in the race came on lap 577 at 11:45 a.m. this morning when Lally and Pumpelly were engaged in a battle for the lead with the No. 86 Porsche. Until this point the lead changed over several times throughout the night between the two TRG 997s and the No. 86, basically narrowing the GT battle from 30 down to three. In the late morning the 86 slowed and pulled off of the track, due to an axle failure. The deal was made between the two TRG front runners that if the 86 broke that the teams would freeze their running order and take the checker accordingly. The team did not want two cars kevin trophy taking a chance of racing each other and having the worst happen.

"It is a great way to start the season," Marks said. "I was excited to get started with TRG. I knew going in that we had a shot at winning and I was really enthused after the test. But it really doesn't sink in until you cross the finish line. This is a great welcome back to sports cars and start the season with Andy and Kevin. I have been lucky enough to win the 250 here twice, this is just on an awesome scale. It is special because I made my Daytona debut with TRG."

"It doesn't get any better than this!" Valentine said. "It is a thrill beyond my imagination. I am 64 years old and what happened today has me in shock. This is the greatest thing in racing that has happened to me in 30 years of competing. Kevin and the TRG guys run a great team. They take great care of me and prepare a fast Porsche. The car ran great and all of the guys did an excellent job today. It was a great race."

watches vert "I have finished second here three times before," Lally said. "I know what the 66 guys feel like, it is tough. The car was so well prepped, the crew made it bullet-proof. We had minimum mistakes and there isn't a dent on the car - only dust. It is a great way to start the season for the team, Kevin and especially Justin and I. I am a small part of an awesome program. Daytona is the pinnacle of racing for me. We wanted to give RJ the honor of taking the car across the finish line, that was special for everyone on the team."

"Thanks to Kevin and TRG for giving me my first shot at the race a few years ago and my first win," Long said. "I don't think that the car had a nick on it. Andy and Kevin led the team, Joerg and I just did some work and Justin and RJ ran mistake free, consistent laps. It is really surreal for me. I thought this was one that was going to keep slipping through the cracks and one that I would have to chase my whole career. This Rolex has slipped away from me a couple of times, so that makes it twice as sweet."

"Wow," Buckler said. "It has been a lot of work this last four months. We have a team of five cars that are really driven by a bunch of my friends and that makes it all the more special. Each team had a slightly different goal and I am so glad that we were able to accomplish most of them. I have shared some great moments with these guys before. Daytona is a special place for TRG. Our team chemistry is a big part of our success. I am really proud of that, it is cool."

"The guys had a great event," Buckler continued. "We brought all of our cars to the checker except one. The quality of driving we had this weekend in all five cars was fantastic. It is a real accomplishment for TRG to have four cars finish this cruel race and take the ultimate plum - a one-two finish."

For team owner Kevin Buckler it is his third win at Daytona. As a driver/owner Buckler won his first in 2002 in the GT class and the second was in 2003 when he won the race overall in his Porsche 911.

Bergmeister also joins the TRG three-peat club having won all three of his races with the team. The first two wins were co-driving with Buckler.

Lally posted his second 24 hour victory. The first, in 2003, was in the old SRPII category.

Ted Ballou, Tim George Jr., Spencer Pumpelly, Emmanuel Collard and Richard Lietz drove the No. 66 AXA/Mitchell Rubber/Wealth Management Strategies/TRG Porsche GT3 to a second place finish. The result had Pumpelly finishing first, second and third over the past three years.

"Obviously, every time you come here, you want a victory, but this second place and to be a part of a 1-2 finish for TRG is great," Pumpelly said. "Once again to have the opportunity to work with some really good people who put a lot of effort into it and spent a lot of hours at the shop preparing for every possible contingency, most of which never arose, but still we were ready for them, it's just a pleasure. It's always a good time when you can come and be that strong, with that good of a group of guys. Ted Ballou, Tim George Jr., Emmanuel Collard and Richard Lietz, my co-drivers, were amazing, and the strategy was perfect. We didn't have the fastest car on the track by any means this weekend, but thanks to our strategy and our preparedness and just kind of our calm nature, we were able to come one off of the goal. It was great to be part of the effort."

"It was a good race, obviously," Ballou said. "To have TRG up front most of the race and an epic battle with Farnbacher and then to come down to battling your teammates was great. It was a great outcome. Obviously, first would have been better, but we'll take second, take the points, and move on. Spencer and I are looking forward to a great year."

"Last year, I was in the 66 and this year we swapped the numbers, but kept the colors," George Jr. said. "It was looking good out there. We moved a spot up the podium. Last year, Spencer and I finished third and this year we're second. It was a pretty brutal race and it came down to, really, the last few hours. We thought we had a win in the bag, but it's good to have a TRG 1-2 finish. The preparation that went into this from all the guys was just phenomenal. I'm looking forward to coming back next year and have one more step up on the podium."

"It was a great result for the team and for Porsche also," Collard said. "The car was running really well all the time. We just had a small problem at the end with the brakes, but apart from that, everything went really well. The car was really, really well-prepared by TRG."

"It's the first time with me here on the podium, so I'm very happy," Lietz said. "After two years with not so much success, to have this success this year with my team, and also for TRG to finish in position one and two, it is really incredible. Porsche is 1-2-3, so for them it was a great job. I'm very happy."

The No. 68 James Farrell & Co./Pallis Properties, Inc./COLO Columbia River Logistics/Cohen Financial/TRG Porsche GT3 driven by Josemanuel Gutierrez, Steve Miller, Chris Pallis, Duncan Ende, and Scott Schroeder finished the 24hour in 14th place. The team did an excellent job to put the 997 in the top fifteen as well as being the eighth place Porsche.

"I did a double stint at 7:00 a.m. this morning," Schroeder said. "The car had some contact through the night and the front splitter was gone. Without the splitter the car lacks a large amount of downforce. This makes the high speed turns, like the Bus Stop, extra challenging. It also really changes your braking points. The guys did a good job in the pits to get us maximum laps and our finish is not that bad considering what we went through."

The No. 63 Guardian Angel Motorsports/Children's Hospital Boston/ jetblue.com /Cavallino Group/www.guardianangelmotorsports.com/TRG Porsche GT3 of Bruce Ledoux, David Quinlan, Dan Watkins, Steve Zadig and Kurt Kossmann had a tough start to the race. The car returned to the paddock three times, but the grit of the TRG 63 crew together with the perseverance of the drivers, the team was able to post a top 20 finish in 18th. With 572 laps completed, the goal of running maximum laps for charitable donations for Children's Hospital Boston was a resounding success.

"The early going was tough for us and our car," Kossmann said. "I think we went through three radiators over the course of the race. We finally hit our pace during the night and it was pretty smooth since then. We were able to come back and finish in the teens. The car ran well and for all we put it through, it stayed aligned so we could drive it. We also turned a lot of laps for charity."

TRG Motorsports will return next week to Daytona where they will run two ARCA RE/Max cars, one Camping World Truck Series entry and one NASCAR Sprint Cup car.

Round two of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series will be held at Virginia International Raceway April 24.

-credit: trg

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