The Racer's Group repeats as winners of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. Daytona, Florida. -- Feb. 2, 2003 -- The Monster Racer's Group Porsche 911 GT3RS improved on 2002's GT class win today at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona by capturing the ...
The Racer's Group repeats as winners of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
Daytona, Florida. -- Feb. 2, 2003 -- The Monster Racer's Group Porsche 911 GT3RS improved on 2002's GT class win today at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona by capturing the overall victory. Co-Drivers and repeating winners Kevin Buckler, Michael Schrom, Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister drove quickly, consistently and mistake free through the night to take the trophy. The victory marks the first time since 1977 that a GT team has captured the overall win. Until the last three hours of the race, the Monster Racer's Group Porsche had close battles with a number of cars, the most dramatic of which were with the #59 Brumos Porsche Fabcar and the #88 Multimatic Ford. During the 19th hour, the Multimatic Ford came within 8 seconds of overtaking the Porsche, but electrical difficulties slowed the car.
Kevin Buckler, team owner and lead driver of the Monster Racer's Group Porsche 911 GT3RS, was in disbelief. "I can't believe it. We knew we had a tiny chance, but the guys did what they always do. We came here, put our heads down, and went to work. We didn't want to talk about it too much because there were some really good teams here. We had a battle last night with one of the Daytona Prototypes where we were thirty seconds apart for hours. We were biting our nails the whole time. There were a lot of good GT teams, too. As the race stretched on, we just stayed consistent and didn't make any mistakes. The little Porsche was completely, absolutely perfect. Not a single mechanical problem, not one, for 24 hours. Unbelievable."
Michael Schrom, last year's 2nd place finisher in the Porsche World Cup, spoke about his feelings on the race. "I am so fortunate for the opportunities Kevin has provided with this team. I'm speechless. Last year was incredible, and this year, we've started it off as best as we possibly could have. It is absolutely unbelievable -- we're going to be in a museum. I just can't believe it."
Porsche Factory driver Timo Bernhard summed up his thoughts. "I thought we could win during the last two or three hours, but not in the sixth hour. It was a big surprise. A lot of people expected us to win, but I didn't even think about it. I thought just getting a class win would be good. To win overall, it's a dream come true."
Despite the overall win for The Monster Racer's Group Porsche, the race was somewhat bittersweet. Car #67 was involved in an incident with an Arcangel Nissan SRP II car, and retired from the race in the 6th hour. At the time of the incident, car #67 was running in 6th place in GT. Andrew Davis was unhurt in the incident. At 8:20 a.m. on Sunday, Jim Michaelian was involved in a scary wreck in which the car was heavily damaged. Jim, thankfully, was also unhurt. Unfortunately, the 68 car was running in 6th place in GT at the time of the incident, and had the car stayed on the grid, it would have been in great shape to finish in the top five due to the repair time for the #20 JMB Racing USA Ferrari.