The No. 12 Risi Competizione Ferrari 333SP, with drivers Ralf Kelleners, Eric van de Poele, Allan McNish and David Brabham, had an exciting and challenging 2001 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Starting from the third position in the 39th running of...
The No. 12 Risi Competizione Ferrari 333SP, with drivers Ralf Kelleners, Eric van de Poele, Allan McNish and David Brabham, had an exciting and challenging 2001 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Starting from the third position in the 39th running of the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic, the Risi Ferrari took the lead for the first time on Lap 12. Dicing with the No. 16 Dyson Racing Ford throughout much of the race, they continuously jockeyed between first and second position. Caution flags and rain were constant factors during the race. Eight hours and 44 minutes into the race, at 9:46 p.m., McNish lost a right front wheel due to a lug nut seizing and threading itself out. He had just gotten in the car, taking over for Kelleners during a standard fuel, tire and front brake pad change pit stop. The two back-to-back stops cost the team to trail the No. 16 Dyson Ford by five laps. Following that action, it was a very smooth race for the Ferrari team. They settled into two-stint sessions per driver and regular pit stops. Finally, on Lap 462 at 4:41 a.m. on Sunday morning, during a scheduled pit stop and driver change from McNish to Brabham, the team noticed a rising oil temperature in the V-12 Ferrari motor. Coolant was added to the overheating car and a theory of a failed head gasket was suspected. The car was taken behind the wall to the team garage. After an assessment of the situation, Team Engineer John McLoughlin announced the car would be withdrawn due to the failed engine at 4:53 a.m.
"There were problems in the sixth and seventh hour and we were concerned about a potential problem. It would be difficult to make up the laps on the Dyson team. However, if we had not had the problem, we may have had a chance to catch up to them."
"I'm very disappointed. We fought hard and worked hard and had to retire about five o'clock in the morning. I thought we were very competitive, which makes going out early more difficult."
Eric van de Poele
"I believe this is the third time somebody has woken me up at an endurance race to tell me we were out. It's not a very pleasant experience. I had a fantastic time behind the wheel and a good fight with the Dyson team. Our team did the best they could do. There was nothing we could do about the problem. It proves we have a tough job, trying to win a race. But when you do win one, you want to do it again. I don't believe anybody that this is the last time for the 333 because I've heard that many times. I wish to thank everyone. It's a real pleasure to work in this condition. It was a dream to have teammates like this...to know the car will be back every time and don't worry about that."
"I'm very disappointed for the team. There was a great effort and the car was in good shape and capable of winning. Despite not finishing, I enjoyed the experience. This being Ferrari's last race...it was something. It would be special if one day I got to drive the Ferrari again."