GT Class sweeps top three spots overall at 2003 Rolex 24 at Daytona; Porsche racers place first and third as The Racer'S Group prevails. Timo Bernhard/Jorg Bergmeister/Kevin Buckler/Michael Schrom repeat last year's GT win in The Racer's Group...
GT Class sweeps top three spots overall at 2003 Rolex 24 at Daytona; Porsche racers place first and third as The Racer'S Group prevails.
Timo Bernhard/Jorg Bergmeister/Kevin Buckler/Michael Schrom repeat last year's GT win in The Racer's Group Porsche 911 GT3 RS, but this year, they bested the entire field with an overall win-
DAYTONA BEACH, FL. -- February 2 -- No one knew how fast the new Daytona Prototype class entries would be, but conventional wisdom said that even if these new race cars did not finish the event, it would be the GTS cars -- Saleen, Corvettes, Ferraris or Mosl ers that would pick up the slack in the overall winner's circle. But few people believed that the Porsches and Ferraris in the GT class could sweep the podium by outracing the faster classes at the Rolex 24.
"We decide to attack the field, running aggressively from the green flag and relying on the Porsche equipment to keep us in the hunt," said Buckler, whose #66 Porsche ran flawlessly for all 24 hours to score a nine-lap win for the team. "We raced the prot otypes straight-up for the whole event, out-running them when we had to, but not running so hard that we hurt the cars."
In the last 12 months, Buckler has won the Rolex 24 twice, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Porsche Cup world-wide award. He also won two Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car events and two American Le Mans Series events in 2002. Co-drivers Timo Bernhard and Jorg B ergmeister -- Porsche factory drivers from Germany -- and Michael Schrom, an advertising executive from Ghent, NY, thought they could win if the new class cars broke, but no one expected the performance they were able to get early in the race.
"I thought we could win overall in the last couple of hours if everyone broke, but we were just concentrating on a class win until it became clear we could run with the prototypes," said Bernhard, who was with Buckler at both Daytona and Le Mans last year.
After the second place Ferrari, third place in GT and third place overall went to the Rennwerks Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RS driven by Johannes Van Overbeek/David Murry/Dave Strandridge/Richard Starenka. The Rennwerks Porsche was in the top three for th e whole event, and even led briefly early in the event.
The #43 Orbit Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS, with Leo Hindery/Peter Baron/Mark Lieb/Kyle Petty sharing the driving, was sixth overall and fourth in the GT class.
In the Daytona Prototype class, the two-car Brumos Fabcar team powered by Porsche were one-two overall in the early going, but both cars suffered nagging mechanical problems which led to the DNF of the #58 David Donohue/Chris Bye/Randy Pobst/Mike Borkowski car (engine), and a disappointing fifth place finish for Hurley Haywood/Scott Sharp/Scott Goodyear/J.C. France entry. "Fifth overall and second in class seems to be a good finish for a car just out of the box, but we thought we should have won the event," said Haywood, who was named to be the lead driver when the project was announced over a year ago.
PORSCHE DAYTONA 24-HOURS FACTS (updated 2/2/03)
Overall Wins: 20
Class Wins: 55
Porsche 911 Wins: 30 Overall and Class Victories
Initial Overall Win: 1968
GT Class Wins: 21
20 Race Winning Streak (overall or class): 1966-1987
Finished 1-2 overall in 11 Daytona 24-Hours
GT class winner finishing second overall: 2001
From 1977 to 1988, Porsche had compiled 12 consecutive overall wins
GTX Series Winner: 1978-1981
GTP Series Winner: 1982-89, 1991
Last 911-based Overall Win: 1977 -- Porsche 911 Carrera RSR
Peter Gregg/Hurley Haywood/Dave Helmick
Last Porsche overall win: 1995 -- Porsche K8 Spyder
John Lavaggi/Juergen Lassig/Marco Werner/Christophe Bouchut