Daytona 24: Synergy Racing race report

Rx.com Daytona Prototype Finishes 17th After Gearbox Failure DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 6, 2005) -- Synergy Racing took home a 17th-place finish in the Daytona Prototype class at the Rolex 24 At Daytona with the Rx.com No. 8 BMW Doran JE4...

Rx.com Daytona Prototype Finishes 17th After Gearbox Failure

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 6, 2005) -- Synergy Racing took home a 17th-place finish in the Daytona Prototype class at the Rolex 24 At Daytona with the Rx.com No. 8 BMW Doran JE4 this weekend.

Drivers Burt and Brian Frisselle, Englishman Mike Newton and Brazilian Tommy Erdos had the Rx.com car as high as 12th overall during the race before a broken CV joint slipped it back in the field. The team was working its way back up the ranks when gearbox failure in the 22nd hour put an early end to the race for the Rx.com car.

Newton was finishing out the first round of stints when the CV joint let go in the sixth hour of racing. The Synergy crew quickly brought the car into the garage for repairs and returned it the track with Burt Frisselle at the controls during the seventh hour. It took a few laps to work out some kinks in the car upon its reentry to the race. Frisselle complained of handling problems, and crew chief Gary Grossenbacher had the team bring it in to disconnect the traction control, seemingly resolving the problem. Another quick stop in the pits was needed a lap later to replace the nose in order to remedy a headlight outage.

After that, Frisselle found himself in 22nd place in class and 42nd overall. However, he had a fairly smooth running car and began to inch his way back up through the ranks. His brother Brian and teammates Erdos and Newton continued the steady rise on the leaderboard through the night.

Shortly after the dawn fell upon Daytona, Erdos had to return the Rx.com Daytona Prototype to the garage with a gearbox problem in the 20th hour of racing.

"The gearbox just didn't select a gear coming into turn one, which is a bit exciting, really, coming into turn one at 180 mph with no gears in the box," said the Brazilian driver.

Once again the Synergy team quickly went to work on the Rx.com car and got Erdos back on track. Although the team had lost some of the ground it gained during the night, Erdos returned to the track and clocked his best lap times of the race, quicker than several of the leaders.

As he was coming to end of his stint, with teammate Newton in the pits preparing to takeover at the reigns of the BMW Doran, the gearbox problems arose again and sent the team back to the garage.

As with the other problems, the Synergy crew quickly rallied to identify the source of the trouble, but this time they found the ring and pinion had broken, something the devoted crew could not repair. They Synergy Racing team was forced to retire the Rx.com car from the race during the 22nd hour.

"As far as racing goes, it's probably the most disheartening thing that can happen," Grossenbacher said. "There is an old rule of thumb when you run a 24-hour race, and that is you hope if you are going to break, you break in the first hour so you can go home and enjoy the race. And if it doesn't break in the first hour, you want to run every hour. So, it's really tough. The guys worked really hard."

"It's unfortunate," Newton said. "You always know where there are risks in a vehicle, and the drive train and gearbox on these things are supposed to be indestructible, which obviously they aren't. So, sometimes it can be a thing that surprises you that stops you. That's just the way it is. Nothing is indestructible, and this reminds you that everything is always a risk. The guys did a great job of looking after the car. All the drivers did a great job of keeping it out of trouble. There were a few gentle bumps and bangs, but nothing serious. Really it's just unfortunate. It's a mechanical failure that really can't be easy to predict, and that's just the way it is."

While the early exit from the race was a disappointment to all the drivers, brothers Burt and Brian Frisselle were still excited for the opportunity to compete in their first Rolex 24.

"It's amazing. It's all that it's been made out to be," said Brian Frisselle. "At first I kind of thought 'how important is this race?' But, after being a part of it, I see why it has the reputation that it does. To win this race everything has to be right--the drivers have to be right and the car has to be right. Hats off to the people that win it, but I feel so blessed to even have competed in it."

Now Synergy Racing and the Frisselles begin preparations for the remainder of the 2005 Rolex Sports Series; 21-year-old Brian's first season in a Daytona Prototype and 23-year-old Burt's first season with the team.

"This gave me a lot of confidence, being able to race with some of these guys out there," Brian said. "I felt like my lap times were pretty good for the amount that I was pushing and for the conditions, in comparison to the other drivers, as well. It's given me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season."

Round two of the Rolex Series will take Synergy Racing to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Grand Prix of Miami, March 3-5.

-sr-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Burt Frisselle , Mike Newton , Brian Frisselle