Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Six Hour Report from Rolex 24 at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2007) -- It was an inauspicious start for the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team and driver Patrick Long, as a short time into the...
Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Six Hour Report from Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2007) -- It was an inauspicious start for the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team and driver Patrick Long, as a short time into the 45th running of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Rolex 24 at Daytona, the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford Daytona Prototype had a problem with the alternator.
The Las Vegas native Long literally had his hands full with the car because a secondary issue, stemming from a loose alternator connection, was the loss of power steering. Long reported no power steering in the high-bank corners. The team tried to diagnose the problem without having Long pit before the first round of scheduled stops (approximately laps 33 or 34). According to car engineer Greg Fordahl, the team had Long try the IPU override switch, which bypasses the fuses, and also had Long try to connect the bypass battery -- neither seemed to resolve the issue.
"The power steering issue was a bit of a surprise," Long said. "When you're on the oval, you're shifting and using one hand a lot of the time and when the power steering went out, the car wanted to head towards the wall. But, luckily I was able to keep it out there for a couple of more laps."
Long made it to the first schedule pit stop, where the team discovered a broken alternator post -- this explained why the car would lose power in the high-bank corners because the post would separate from the alternator causing a loose connection.
With the rear deck off, the team worked frantically to change the alternator. The Ruby Tuesday Team made the alternator change, put on four fresh Hoosier tires, added fuel and put Frenchman Romain Dumas in the car. By this time, the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford was nearly six laps down in 27th place.
"It is difficult," Dumas said of having to try to catch the leaders so many laps down. "We just have to drive the car carefully and hope that other cars have problems too. The car is O.K. now and the speed is better [than it was during his first stint]. But, there is still a long way to go in the race."
After the first initial problem, the next five hours were basically without incident. In fact, by the time defending Daytona Prototype champion Jorg Bergmeister started his second stint, the Alex Job Racing prepared No. 23 Porsche Crawford was eight laps down in 16th position.
"Unfortunately we had some bad luck at the beginning," Bergmeister said of the race start. "Now we are just trying to run our pace and gain positions. Other than that, things are going pretty well. The car was a little loose on my opening stint. But, with the cooler temperatures, things should get better now."
With approximately 18 hours remaining, can history repeat itself? Last year, after sustaining a broken rear boot on the car's right rear half-shaft on lap 55, the team made a full recovery from seven laps down to take the race lead only to settle for third place. The answer to the question is, 'Only time will tell.'