Daytona 24: Doran Racing Thursday report

Gidley Qualifies 15th for Rolex 24 in Kodak Car DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 25 - It was not without drama, but Memo Gidley qualified a solid 15th Thursday afternoon for this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway with the Lebanon, ...

Gidley Qualifies 15th for Rolex 24 in Kodak Car

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 25 - It was not without drama, but Memo Gidley qualified a solid 15th Thursday afternoon for this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway with the Lebanon, Ohio-based Feeds the Need/Doran Racing Kodak DORAN JE4 Ford No. 77.

The driver from Novato, Calif., and Sherrills Ford, N.C. will start the race on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and then share the car throughout the 24-hour challenge with co-drivers Michel Jourdain Jr. of Huixguilucan, Mexico; Oriol Servia of Pals, Catalonia, Spain and Miami; and Fabrizio Gollin of Castelfranco Veneto, Italy.

Gidley's official qualifying time will go down in the history books as 1:44.957 for an average speed of 122.107 miles per hour for the 3.56-mile road course. Even though the car had its race engine in it for qualifying instead of its qualifying engine, that was only 1.482 seconds off the pole.

The team was forced to run its race engine during qualifying after Gidley was involved in a crash early in the second practice session Thursday at the Bus Stop chicane. It occurred seconds after he had jumped to the top of the lap charts with a 1:47.468. It was just a racing accident under heavy braking in heavy traffic, but contact was made with one of the Ganassi cars. In addition to some bodywork damage the Kodak car's oil pressure dipped too low after the accident, so team owner Kevin Doran made the decision to change engines right before qualifying and the race engine was put into service earlier than originally planned.

The hard-working crew put in a stellar performance, replacing and/or repairing the damage and taking one engine out and installing another one in just one hour and 35 minutes.

Gidley came through too. The team had four timed laps in the rain in the morning session to rank sixth on the results for the first practice session. It recorded only two more timed laps in the second session at 1:30 p.m. before the accident occurred.

At the beginning of the 15-minute qualifying session Oswaldo Negri crashed the Michael Shank Racing No. 60 in Turn 1, which cost the entire field about half of the allotted 15 minutes for qualifying as the track crews brought that car in and repaired damage to a tire barrier.

Gidley only had the opportunity to make four laps in quals on a drying track, but he wasted no time. He was in 18th place on his second lap with a 1:56.557. He moved into 15th with his third lap, and then he was 16th with his fourth, final, and fastest lap. He moved up one spot to 15th when Bill Auberlen's Luggage Express Riley BMW failed to pass the post-qualifying technical inspection after originally being scored sixth-fastest.

Now with the race engine in the car, Doran said the team would keep its remaining practice laps before the race short. There is a night practice session later today from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tomorrow 45 minutes of practice time are available starting at 9 a.m., and an additional 45 more minutes at 1 p.m.

Gidley's post-qualifying quote follows:

Memo Gidley: "In the practice session before qualifying I made contact with somebody going into the Bus Stop chicane. There was a lot of traffic, and the brakes hadn't come in fully yet because it was early in the session. One of the Ganassi cars, I don't know if it was the 01 or the 02, broke extremely hard because of some GT cars ahead of us, and we hit him.

"We limped back to the pits. There was very little oil pressure; that was the biggest deal. The nose took a good little hit and got crunched, but the real problem was the lack of oil pressure, so we decided to change the engine. The Doran Racing guys worked extremely hard and got me out for qualifying.

"None of us got many laps in during qualifying because there was an accident early, but the Kodak car was really good in qualifying. I'm really happy with the changes Kevin [Doran, the team owner] made from the test. We only had three or four timed laps, but the car was still very good for qualifying.

"We missed the middle practice session and qualifying for us was basically a glorified installation lap, but definitely the car is getting better all the time. The team did a great job to get it back out for qualifying so we had a chance to run in that session and so we didn't have to run in the qualifying session tomorrow."

-credit: doran racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Fabrizio Gollin , Memo Gidley , Oriol Servia , Bill Auberlen , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Kevin Doran , Michael Shank , Michel Jourdain
Teams Doran Racing , Michael Shank Racing