DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - WeatherTech Racing finished the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship 52nd running of the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona in eighth position in GTD today.
The No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche led laps and spent the entire race in the top five of the ultra-competitive GTD Class for the full 24 hours, until the last three. A combination of the competition's speed and the newness of the Porsche 911 GT America kept kept the team from the podium.
With 20 minutes to go, the brake pedal went to the floor and Keen went off in Turn Three. That forced him to pit with just a handful of laps remaining so the crew could bleed the brakes for the finish.
"That was a tough way to close out a race, going into the wall with five laps to go," Keen said. "We started experiencing the fuel pick-up problems in the early morning. To fix it we would have had to come to the garage for at least an hour for repairs. We were just getting about half of the fuel use on a run. In the late laps I went out and the pedal just went to the floor and I went off. Tough way to end a long race. The guys were still determined to see the car cross the finish line, so we came in, bled the system and took the checker. That kind of effort will payoff down the road. We are already looking forward to Sebring where the team won with the WeatherTech car last year."
MacNeil showed steady improvement throughout the 24 hours.
"I had a tough first stint to the race, but then in my last three runs I was able to settle in and get a good pace going," MacNeil said. "The car was pretty good for me through my runs and then it started to go away in the very last couple of hours. The fix to the fuel cell would have really taken us out of contention. As it turned out we were running in seventh with two hours to go and with the late brake problems for Leh we only lost one more position. We won at Sebring last year and we are going back there to defend that win in March."
Van Gisbergen had a lot of laps at the wheel of the WeatherTech Porsche over the last 24 hours.
"I did a lot of laps in the race, it was pretty cool," van Gisbergen said. "We made it to the finish, but the car was getting worse and worse towards the end and then the brakes went on Leh with just 20 minutes to go. I really enjoyed myself. The stint I did in the middle of the night was my favorite. I think I did two-and-a-half or three hours. It was quiet, the crew was tired so there was not a lot of chatter on the radio and it was great. I've never been in a race car for that long. It was one of the best times I have had racing."
Shane Lewis was the team's night Owl.
"It was an amazing experience," Lewis said. "The AJR crew just works so hard. With just a couple of laps to go they are bleeding the brakes so we can see the car take the checker. That is a team you want to drive for in racing. They prep an amazing car. This is the first time in my 17 races here at Daytona that I did all of my driving at night. I didn't do a single lap in the daylight. There was some pretty crazy driving at night. I did all of my laps under the lights. I am kind of feeling like Batman."
Alex Job, team owner, is pleased with the performance, but not necessarily the result.
"We come to every race to win," Job said. "We had a pretty good run, but the late race fuel pickup issue and eventually the brake problem just took us right out of the possibility of a podium finish. That just goes to show you what we are in for, competition wise, for the rest of the season in the GTD Class. The Ferrari 458s are very fast as is the Audi. They are driven by good drivers and that really means you have to be at the top of your game every race. Cooper, Shane van Gisbergen, Leh and Shane Lewis really did a great job behind the wheel of the WeatherTech Porsche. It is tough when you are racing for the Porsche Cup."
The series will travel two hours south to the historic Sebring International Raceway for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to run March 15.
The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GTD (GT Daytona) Class is made up of some the world's most sophisticated cars, including the Porsche 911 GT America, Ferrari 458, Aston Martin, BMW Z4, Viper SRT and Audi R8. All GTD Class cars run on the spec Continental tire.
Alex Job Racing is one of the most successful teams in sports car racing with 70 wins (since 1995); including two Rolex 24 GT Class wins in 1999 and 2013. This record is supported by 48 pole positions and 106 podium finishes. The team has won five championships (GTC 2013, 2012, GT in 2004, 2003 and 2002) complimented by their two GT class wins at Le Mans. The team also boasts nine Sebring 12-hour wins.