TRG In Contention for Rolex 24 At Daytona Victory at Halfway Point DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., January 27, 2008 - At the halfway point in the grueling Rolex 24 At Daytona, TRG had two of its seven Porsche GT3s inside the top-four positions in the GT...
TRG In Contention for Rolex 24 At Daytona Victory at Halfway Point
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., January 27, 2008 - At the halfway point in the grueling Rolex 24 At Daytona, TRG had two of its seven Porsche GT3s inside the top-four positions in the GT class.
"Halfway through the race, it's pretty awesome," Buckler said. "We've been 1-2, 1-3, and 2-3. I took my camera out and actually took a picture of the screen having TRG cars run 1-2. We've had a lot of issues with the temperature and all the crap clogging up the radiators. I actually chose to take the whole front nose of the (No.) 66 car off and lost a lap because of it. The (No.) 67 guys have climbed their way back to P1 or P2. All the cars have had some issues. The (No.) 62 was doing a great job and had a clutch problem. The (No.) 64 had a little accident and the (No.) 65 and (No.) 68 have had a couple of little accidents, too. The (No.) 64 is climbing its way back up right now and the (No.) 62 is back out there. It's only halfway through. We've got a lot of racing to go still."
Running second in class and just a few seconds behind the leader was Porsche factory driver Romain Dumas in the No. 67 Monster Cable Need for Speed Porsche GT3. Dumas' position capped a remarkable battle back to the top of the class standings by himself and co-drivers Spencer Pumpelly and Emmanuel Collard after the No. 67 machine lost two laps in the first six hours. Co-drivers Tim George Jr. and Bryan Sellers did not drive during the second quarter of the event.
"I knew that the only way we were going to get back into contention was to get that lap back," Pumpelly said. "With these rules, the only way to get the lap back is to just outdrive everyone. Kevin just said, ‘We gotta go.' We had the track position, we were in front of the mess on the restart and I just tried to put them down. I'm pretty happy with every lap I turned and every corner I went through. It's a testament to the car and how good it's setup. Now it's up to Emmanuel to try again. He can do it. I'm confident in him and I'm confident in all my teammates."
"It's really good for the team," Collard added. "For Kevin, it's perfect at the moment because we've got two cars in the top (four). I hope that we stay like this until the end. Everything is fine. The gearbox was a bit stiff since the beginning, but it's still the same. It seems to be consistent now and we should be fine."
The No. 66 Marquis Jet/Resorts International/Mitchell Rubber/Total Lubricants/IPC Porsche GT3 of Bryce Miller, Andy Lally, Ted Ballou (who did not drive in the second quarter) and Richard Westbrook was undoubtedly the star of the show for TRG through most of the second quarter of the race. Both Miller and Lally led a substantial number of laps during their driving stints, as did Westbrook before overheating issues brought the car onto pit lane just prior to the halfway point. The car was running fourth in class at halfway with Westbrook at the wheel. It was one lap behind the class leaders.
"You couldn't ask for a better standing for right now," said Miller following his stint. "I was a little bit nervous a day or two ago about the soft platform that we had. I've just been following TRG's lead, and they've really delivered the package. The conditions have really gone pretty loose and the car has come right to the track. I think we're the car to beat right now, so keep your fingers crossed. I don't think the car has changed all that much, really. It's stayed pretty consistent and the pressures in the tires are coming up really well and then they're plateauing at a really good operating temperature. I'm really happy with the performance and the consistency. It should be a good one."
"We are a little past midnight," added a cautious Lally. "We're almost halfway, and we have three GT cars within 1.2 seconds of each other here. That's just amazing, AND, we're 1-2. We're second, I don't like that, but that's actually the least of our problems right now. We've got some overheating issues right now. We're probably going to lose this here in a little bit. We're in trouble. When I was out there, it wasn't a concern. Right now, it just got big."
The No. 64 J Lowe Racing/TRG Globus/Adopt A Pig/CRG/Maxter/Rotax/MBA Group/F1 Air/SRSNMT Porsche GT3 of co-drivers Jim Lowe, Jim Pace, Tim Sugden, Johannes van Overbeek and RJ Valentine was another strong contender in the early portion of the second quarter before disaster struck during Valentine's stint.
"I was two or three laps into my stint and I came up on this red Ferrari," Valentine explained. "The guy kept chopping me everywhere I went. Finally, I figured I was clear by him, and the guy came right in front of me. He crossed over on me. I locked the brakes up, spun and that was it. I backed it into the wall. I feel bad about it, but I can't help what that guy did."
The contact dropped the No. 64 machine several laps behind the class leaders, but after the team made repairs, the co-drivers have continued to battle. At the halfway point, Pace was shown in ninth place, six laps behind the leader.
"We got into a hole earlier, and it's a shame, too, because the car is competitive," van Overbeek said. "The J Lowe guys are working hard. The pit stops are great, the driver changes are great and the strategy has been great. We've made up some laps already. It's just a shame that we've got such a hole to dig out of."
Three of the four TRG machines that logged significant time in the garage area in the first half of the race soldiered on throughout the second quarter of the race. The No. 68 ACG Motorsports/Cohen Financial/Thomas Weisel Partners/Muffin Top Racing Porsche GT3 of co-drivers Michael Auriemma, Michael Gomez, John Mayes, Brent Milner and Scott Schroeder was listed 23rd in class, 47 laps out of the GT lead.
The No. 65 Lavender Bridal Salon Porsche GT3 of Tom Atherton, Jason Daskalos, Russ Oasis, Jim Stout and Tommy Archer was listed 24th in class. The car was 49 laps behind the class leader.
"It was kind of a rough start to the last stint there," said Archer following his stint. "A Prototype car cut in front of us and I tried to swerve so we didn't hit the front end and I got the left front tire into the wet stuff. I skidded over a curb and took out the front splitter. It's just one of those deals. The restarts are a nightmare, because they've got all these DP cars starting behind us, and they try to come through the field while we're going through the infield. It just doesn't work well that way. We got caught on that one. Once we got going after that, the car ran some pretty good laps. I don't know where we're at, but it's in one piece. We're still going!"
The No. 62 Burtin Engineering/Foametix/Westfund.com Porsche GT3 of Claudio Burtin, Jack Baldwin, Scott Tucker, Ed Zabinski and Martin Ragginger was 27th in class at halfway, 54 laps behind the leader. The No. 63 J Lowe Racing/TRG The DigiTrust Group/Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing/Impremedia/Reigel Tuning/Adam's Polishes/La Vi Porsche GT3 of Pierre Borque, Duncan Ende, Hima Maher and Ron Yarab Jr. retired from the race in the first quarter with gearbox problems. The car is credited with 41st in the GT class.