Three TRG Porsches In Top Five With Six Hours Left in Rolex 24 At Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., January 27, 2008 -- With 18 hours in the books and under conditions that vacillated between wet and dry at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, three TRG Porsche...
Three TRG Porsches In Top Five With Six Hours Left in Rolex 24 At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., January 27, 2008 -- With 18 hours in the books and under conditions that vacillated between wet and dry at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, three TRG Porsche GT3s found themselves in the top five and well within sight of the victory podium.
Topping the charts for TRG in second place was the No. 67 Monster Cable Need for Speed Porsche GT3 being driven at the 18-hour mark by Porsche factory driver Romain Dumas. The No. 67 team had an eventful third quarter, as the car being shared by Dumas, Bryan Sellers, Emmanuel Collard, Tim George Jr. and Spencer Pumpelly was once ahead of the entire GT field by more than a lap before a series of issues on pit lane dropped the car one lap down to the leaders.
Pumpelly, Collard and Dumas were able to work their way back onto the lead lap for a time, but a brisk pace by the GT-leading No. 70 Mazda left the car one lap behind with six hours to go.
"It's a really good feeling to have the guys in the pits say, 'Just pace yourself at a certain number and run there,'" said Sellers after finishing a driving stint as the class leader. "It's nice not to have to play catch-up. Unfortunately, we got really caught out by that yellow flag there with the new rules and DP cars pit first. We hit the reserve and literally, 10 seconds prior to us getting to pit lane, the yellow came out. We did a whole lap on reserve, and 10 seconds before we're going to pit, the yellow flag comes out. Now, we can't pit, because pits are closed under the new rule."
One position behind the No. 67 machine and also one lap out of the GT lead was the No. 66 Marquis Jet/Resorts International/Mitchell Rubber/Total Lubricants/IPC Porsche GT3 being shared by Ted Ballou, Bryce Miller, Andy Lally and Richard Westbrook. The No. 66 also led for a time during the third quarter and has been a front-runner virtually throughout the race, but Lally found himself in a one-lap hole to the leader at the end of 18 hours.
"We are hanging in there," Lally said. "This TRG Porsche is running well and my teammates are doing a super job. We need to hope for the best, because this is a little bit of a toss-up here. You've got guys going off in all directions and coming on all directions. There have been some close calls out there. You've got to driver 95 percent and leave a little bit on the road for reaction time to get out of other people's way. It wouldn't be Daytona if it wasn't like this. It's just what we welcome every year. I hate it when I'm in there, because I've got the white knuckle deal going on the steering wheel. This is what makes it all worthwhile at the end of this."
Rallying back from an on-track incident in the second quarter of the race was the No. 64 Lowe Racing/TRG Globus/Adopt A Pig/CRG/Maxter/Rotax/MBA Group/F1 Air/SRS/NMT Porsche GT3 being shared by Jim Lowe, Jim Pace, Johannes van Overbeek, RJ Valentine and Tim Sugden. The No. 64 machine was fourth in the GT class and eight laps in arrears of the class leader.
"A race like this, you've got to remember, is 24 hours," Lowe said. "We had some bad luck in the first six hours or first eight hours, and what you have to do is remember that you've got a long race and a lot of laps left. The experience of guys like RJ and Jim Pace and Johannes and Tim Sugden reminds you to just take it easy and keep gaining places back. We've got a little chart made out here from where we started when we went behind the 8-ball and we're making up spots and laps. I'm going to be happy when I finish this race. We're going for a podium shot here. We're within shouting distance and there's a lot of racing left, no doubt about it."
"We started out great," Pace contributed. "We had our misfortune a little bit early and hopefully the others will have theirs a little bit later. We're a few laps down, but we're running nice and steady. The car is good. The gearbox, brakes, everything is feeling good on the car. We're just a few laps down. We just need a little luck and a little misfortune on somebody else's part and we'll be there."
After 18 hours, six of the seven TRG Porsches were still running. In 19th place was the No. 68 ACG Motorsports/Cohen Financial/Thomas Weisel Partners/Muffin Top Racing Porsche GT3 being shared by Michael Auriemma, John Mayes, Scott Schroeder, Brent Milner and Michael Gomez. The car was 58 laps behind the class leader with Gomez at the wheel.
"I have to give it to the crew," Schroeder said. "They've been working their a-- off to keep us out on that track. Unfortunately, we've had two offs, and both very similar. They took off the front nose and the radiators. They really got us back on the track really quick. We didn't lose all that many laps, and we're still in it. We're pretty far back, but we're still in it. It's looking like we'll finish, so I'm pretty happy with that."
One spot behind the No. 68 machine was the No. 62 Burtin Engineering/Foametix/Westfund.com Porsche GT3 in the hands of co-drivers Jack Baldwin, Claudio Burtin, Martin Ragginger, Scott Tucker and Ed Zabinski. Ragginger was driving the car at the end of 18 hours, and was trailing the class leader by 65 laps.
"It's been a great race," Tucker said. "We were doing really well until the clutch went out. It was purely a mechanical issue, but the overall experience is good and we plan on finishing the race."
"We're having a little bit of a rough day, but the guys are working hard," added Zabinski following a driving stint. "They fixed a bunch of stuff on the car. The track is in that transition between wet and dry. It's too dry for wets and way too wet for dries. I went out there with overheated rain tires, and it's like being in some Formula Drift competition. I was opposite lock everywhere, including the banking. That's a little alarming. That was a workout. That was the most lethal car I've ever been in, but this is a good experience anyway. You learn something every time you come here to Daytona."
The final TRG machine still running at 18 hours was the No. 65 Lavender Bridal Salon Porsche GT3 of Tom Atherton, Jason Daskalos, Jim Stout and Russ Oasis. Stout was in the car at the 18-hour mark, 71 laps back of the GT leader.
"We've gone through three nose cones, three noses, a couple of splitters and radiators," Stout said. "I had a stone go through our radiator. Luck hasn't been on our side. We're fighting the rain, so it's been kind of rough for us, but we're still on the track and that's better than some. We were trying to get into the top 10 originally, but after a couple incidents and a couple off-tracks in the rain, it's been a pretty wet experience, much wetter than we expected. We're hanging in there. We've got to have fun. If it wasn't so fun, you'd be sad."
"It's been an interesting day and part of the night," said Oasis. "We've had three unexpected issues arise and we've been to the garage three times. We had a radiator start leaking out of the clear blue sky. It was nothing in particular, just the radiator decided to start leaking. We've spent more than our share of time in the garage, which is never a good thing. We're out there now trying to make up for it. We're glad that the rain seems to be gone. Maybe we can make a little bit of time in the dry weather. Hey, it's one of those things that happens. Sometimes when you have a great streak of luck, that's why you win. Sometimes, you get great driving and you don't have a great streak of luck. We take what we can get. We've still got a long way to go. A lot of stuff can happen to the other guys and put us in a much better position."
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.