ACTION PACKED DEBUT FOR RYAN LEWIS AT THE ROLEX 24
Daytona Beach, Florida- February 1st, 2011 - Ryan Lewis made his GRAND-AM debut this weekend in what turned out to be an eventful and action packed race for the British driver and the PR1 Motorsports team. After a series of incidents and problems, which included loosing the hood and roof in the #32 Autosport Designs Inc./ Corsa Car Care/ Dinan/ MOBOTIX/ PR1 Motorsports BMW M6, the team had to eventually retire the car with mechanical problems with five and a half hours to go and after completing 402 laps around the historic 3.56-mile, 12-turn speedway road course. The #32 BMW M6 was ranked 22nd in the GT category.
Lewis took the green flag for the 49th Rolex 24 at Daytona in the 18th position and throughout his stint managed to quickly move through the field and pick up positions while also turning the team's fastest race lap with a time of 1m50.825s. Next on the roster for the team was Max Hyatt who also put in a strong run during his stint. The problems for the #32 car began when Tom Papadopoulos was hit by another competitor coming into the banking and suffered left rear damage. The PR1 crew took care of the damage and sent Papadopoulos back out after a quick 45 minute repair. Another on-track incident forced the car to come into the garage again for repairs to the front of the car, once again the PR1 crew showed their speed and skills and had the car back on track in a matter of minutes. The most bizarre incident happened while David Cheng was driving when a blown tire somehow caused the hood, roof and back window of the BMW to blow off leaving the team with no choice but to continue the race with the crippled car. Lewis completed his second stint with the new "convertible" BMW and focused solely on completing laps and nursing the car to the finish, not worrying about their position any more as they found themselves several laps down to the leaders due their various visits to the garage. Eventually, despite a valiant effort by the drivers and crew, the #32 BMW M6 was forced to retire on Sunday morning with less than six hours to go due to gearbox problems.
"We started out the race being pretty conservative, not doing anything too crazy and just being careful in traffic. We picked up a few positions but then I caught some pretty bad traffic and two Mazdas managed to get through, so I just tucked in behind them and took it easy for the rest of my stint. After that Max (Hyatt) got in the car and had a pretty uneventful stint so overall we had a pretty good first part of the race. We had a good pace and could keep up with the leaders easily.
"It wasn't really until Tom (Papadopoulos) got hit by one of the Porsches and suffered some damage that things started going downhill, we suffered some more damage after that and eventually the hood and roof flew off which obviously didn't help things. The car actually wasn't that bad to drive after that, when I first saw it I was pretty sure we were done but the team again did a great job repairing what they could and we got out there once again and got going. The car lost some downforce so it was pretty loose on the high speed stuff, but the main problem was that we also lost a lot of straight line speed so it was tougher to keep a quick pace after that, but overall I actually enjoyed driving it quite a bit.
"This was my first 24 hour race and I definitely learned a lot from the experience. During my second stint we were more in survival mode so it was just a matter of finding a rhythm and not necessarily pushing as much. But you learn a lot of things that will definitely help when I come back, little things like how to prepare yourself for such a long race, the importance of getting rest in between stints, and how to deal with all the unknowns that come up. Overall it was a great experience and I'm definitely looking forward to coming back next year."
-source: ryan lewis PR
Daytona24: BMW Motorsport race report
Daytona24: Bryan Sellers race report