Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team 24-Hour Report from Rolex 24 at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 28, 2007) -- As dawn approached for the final six hours of the 45th running of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal...
Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team 24-Hour Report from Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 28, 2007) -- As dawn approached for the final six hours of the 45th running of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team hoped the only adversity they would have to face in the final hours was the steady rain falling on the World Center of Racing.
Piloting the Alex Job Racing prepared No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Porsche Crawford Daytona Prototype, Romain Dumas did his best to keep the car on the track and out of trouble when the skies opened up.
"When it was raining, I was a little bit afraid because I had never driven this car in the rain before," Dumas said. "When the heavy rain came down, I did not want to take any chances. I knew the car was quick, but it made no sense to put the car at risk. After our early problems, we just tried to be consistent and earn some points towards the championship."
As he finished his final stint, the Frenchman was securely in eighth place (11 laps off the pace) when his German teammate Jorg Bergmeister took over in the No. 23 Porsche Crawford. The rain finally subsided around 9 a.m. and that is when the team switched from rain tires to dry tires. The new tires seemed to help Bergmeister start to chase down the then seventh place No. 61 Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype. Just as the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team set its sites on the No. 61, the No. 02 Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype (who was running third on lap 541) ran through some standing water in Turn One sending that machine into the tire wall sustaining heavy front-end damage. As the result of that incident, it appeared as if the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team's luck was about to change, as they moved to seventh while looking to catch the No. 61 for sixth. However, on lap 561, Bergmeister spun the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford coming out of the chicane and backed the car into the wall. The car sustained heavy damage to the left rear of the machine, as Bergmeister drove it directly to the garage for repairs.
"On the last stop, we did not put new tires on the car [the team took fuel only -- going with a track position strategy]," Bergmeister said of what may have contributed to the accident. "During that stint, the car experienced more and more oversteer. When I got into the chicane, I started to slide, hit a wet spot and went off the track."
For the third time in more than 20-hours, the Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team had to go to work to fix its damaged car. It took an entire team effort to repair the left rear suspension and replace the oil tank and lines, the fuel line, the exhaust system, the rear wing assembly and the rear deck in just under one hour.
By the time Bergmeister returned the No. 23 Porsche Crawford to the track, it was 42 laps down in 18th overall position and 12th in the DP class. Patrick Long ran the final stint in the car, with the car completing 615 circuits around the 3.56-mile, 12-turn speedway road course. The Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team finished 12th in the DP class and 18th overall.
"Our finish was bittersweet," Long said. "In the end, we finished. But, we had to bounce back from some adversity. We definitely showed what we are as a team and as a unit. These crew guys never gave up. The team not only worked hard this weekend, but also through all the preseason testing. We'll go back to the drawing board and improve on the areas that need improvement."
"It just shows the strength of this team," team owner Alex Job said of his team's diligent effort to keep the car on the track for the entire 24-hour race. "This is a team that has been together for a long time and they've won many championships together. I think that effort really showed in the last 24-hours.
"We definitely had some adversity, which started right from the second pace lap before we got the green. The whole team kept their head high dug in deep and each time they fixed the problem. We finished the race and I am very proud of the team, the drivers and our effort. I am very proud of being associated with Ruby Tuesday. Unfortunately, it just was not our day."
The Ruby Tuesday Championship next heads to Mexico City, Mexico for Round Two of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve March 1-3.