Goodyear claimed a pair of trophies at the sports car season-opening Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, but the overall honors was done in by a persistent misfire. The Goodyear-shod GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Corvette of Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel and ...
Goodyear claimed a pair of trophies at the sports car season-opening Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, but the overall honors was done in by a persistent misfire.
The Goodyear-shod GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Corvette of Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel and Justin Bell improved on an 18th-place finish a year ago to claim second overall and second in the GTO class behind the winning Oreca Viper of Olivier Beretta, Karl Wendlinger and Dominique Dupuy. A late yellow put Fellows on the lead lap and he carved that margin down to 30 seconds, the closest finish in Daytona 24 Hour finish.
Ron Fellows, #3 Corvette: "That was a 24-hour sprint. We lost a little time and it turned out we couldn't afford to lose that. Myself, Chris and Justin, we just drove as hard as we could. It was a great fight and Goodyear gave us a great tire.
Chris Kneifel, #3 Corvette: "(Teammate) Andy Pilgrim said we pushed the best endurance team in the world to the limit. Well, we want to be the best endurance team in the world. This finish means a lot. From my perspective, as thrilled as we are for what we just accomplished for Corvette Racing, we're getting sick of finishing second. But you know what? All this does is make us better and hungrier. Across the board the improvements have been phenomenal -- the Goodyear tires, the brakes, the team and even the drivers. We're stepping up and we're going to beat these guys."
Franck Freon, #4 Corvette: "The Vipers have been racing for about five years and they know how to win," he said. "We're just starting our second season and this run proves that we are here and we intend to win. It's a pretty balanced match right now. I have to say that Goodyear works very hard on the development and they never stop. They are always better and that will help us to make these winning cars."
Earlier, the Dyson Racing Ford-Riley & Scott, also on Goodyear Eagles, developed a persistent engine misfire shortly after 2 a.m. while holding a 13-lap lead. Drivers James Weaver, Max Papis, Elliot Forbes-Robinson and car owner Rob Dyson kept the lead until just after the 22-hour mark when they were passed by the winning Viper. Altogether, the Dyson team led 433 laps and 14-1/2 hours. The Dyson team finished the race in fourth position overall and won the Sports Racer category by a 150-mile margin.
Rob Dyson: "The engine just kept getting lazier and lazier. This is Daytona; this is a tough race. We've been very fortunate to win this race twice. We would have liked to have won the race, but it's important to win the class. We're here to win the championship; that's always our objective and we've been lucky enough to do that.
"The Goodyear tires were great all race long and we were able to make adjustments throughout the race. We ran a softer compound when I was in the car and it became our night tire for James and Max. I don't run the car quite as hard and this allowed me to step it up. At night I used an even softer compound and I went even better. The tires were excellent; that's never an issue with Goodyear."
James Weaver: "The track is very smooth, very cool and very slippery in the infield," he said. "The Goodyear tires definitely have the best traction and at Daytona you have to be able to put the power down from one corner to the next and we can certainly do that. All our lap-time advantage is coming from the tires."
Bob Shaffer, Goodyear Marketing Manager, Sports Car: "This was a terrific event for the first Grand American race and showed that the competition in all divisions is increasing. Goodyear has increased its commitment to sports car racing and we're pleased that the Goodyear Eagles came away with two pole positions for this race, helped the Dyson Racing team to capture its second straight Sports Racer title at Daytona and allowed Ron Fellows and the Corvette team to run down the Vipers in the final hour. Goodyear will continue to work with its road racing partners to improve the tire performance during both the Grand American championship and the American Le Mans Series."