Daytona Rolex 24 Saturday notes three

ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA RACE NOTES TOM VOLK (No. 95 Supreme Exhaust/Quality Inn on the Beach Chevrolet Kudzu) -- "After the last pit stop, we were having trouble shifting so we were only using third and fourth gears in the corners. Then it started...


TOM VOLK (No. 95 Supreme Exhaust/Quality Inn on the Beach Chevrolet Kudzu) -- "After the last pit stop, we were having trouble shifting so we were only using third and fourth gears in the corners. Then it started feeling like we only had front brakes, so I think something in the rear somehow affected the rear brakes. We were locking them up and we fried a set of tires. Then something blew up and cut the bellhousing in half."

JOHN GREEN (No. 38 GTS-3 Smith Barney/Comp Tech Eng. Acura NSX) -- (GTS-3 polesitter) "The car felt very good and very quick. I was trying to run very steady and stay out of trouble. I was in sixth gear going down the backstraight and it acted like it had popped out of gear. What really had happened is it had broken a main shaft and there was no power, no gears, nothing!"

ALMO COPPELLI (No. 00 GTS-2 Agusta Rcg Callaway Corvette LM 600) -- "The same thing happened (undetermined tire problem) as the first time, at the same place. Last year we ran Dunlop tires and had no problem, but this is a new generation tire and we only went six or eight laps and had a problem. Today was very bad. We put a lot of effort into coming. Now, we can't even think about going to Sebring. After two times (with tire problems) you don't believe in the car any more, you cannot push like you need to. We lost two hours in the pits -- it would be stupid to continue. It didn't make any sense to continue. We were very happy with the engine, from CompTech."

BUTCH LEITZINGER (No. 16 Rain-X Ford R&S Mk. III) -- "This race is much tighter than I would have thought. Last year a few of the front runners had problems early, and the race is pretty doggone tight right now up front. Last year's finish (the closest in the history of the Rolex 24) could be pretty tame compared to this year. The traffic is unbelievable. You've really got to use your intuition out there. A lot of people are out there racing, and sometimes they don't realize there are faster cars out there. The toughest time is after restarts, when you are back in the field and you have to work through traffic. It's a real achievement to go through the chicane without a significantly slower car in front of you. That can be worth five seconds a lap. Andy Wallace started the No. 16 car, followed by John Paul Jr., myself and James Weaver."

ERIC VAN DE POELE (No. 1 Danka/Toshiba Copiers Oldsmobile Riley & Scott Mk. III) -- "We had a small problem in the beginning of the race. We had to clean off the radiator to secure the temperature of the engine, and we lost a lap. Since then, everything's running perfect. It would be nice to be in the lead at halfway, but this race can change at any time."


GIANPIERO MORETTI (No. 30 Momo Ferrari 333 SP) -- "We are at the appetizer stage of the race (at the six-hour mark); it's still a long time to the main course. Everything is running perfect. The only problem is some of the cars are putting dirt and sand on the course. This is a real nice race. We are doing our own race right now."

BOB WOLLEK (No. 31 GTS-2 Konrad Porsche 911 Turbo) -- The car is perfect, except we have a small oil leak (car was leading class by a lap). How is the traffic? It's the same as ever -- you have the idiots, and you have some fast cars (shrugging).

DEREK BELL (No. 30 MOMO Ferrari 333 SP) -- "I must admit it doesn't look very good right now (just before 9 p.m.). It seems we've had a bit of a burnout in the wiring system. Everything was going perfectly, then there was the terrible smell of burning electrical stuff. That's all I know. We won't know how bad it is until we get back to the lock-up (garage). Obviously, it's nothing very minor -- it smelt pretty bad. It's bad for Gianpiero (Moretti, team owner). He's tried to win this race so many times, but he's won Sebring and I never have, although I've won many other races (including three Rolex 24s). That's motor racing -- it's just bad luck! I think it's time to go to Hooters and have Dom Perignon and chicken wings. If you are going to go out, this is the time to do it." (Team later reported it had to replace the wiring harness.)

JAMES WEAVER (No. 16 Rain-X Ford R&S Mk. III) -- "I think it's dropped a valve on the right-hand cylinder bank. We're going to take a look. We may be able to put another cylinder head on it. It may be repairable, but I think it's unlikely. Everything was going our way, but that's just the way it goes." (As of 10 p.m., the team was in the garage replacing the cylinder.)

GEOFF LEES (No. 46 GTS-1 Newcastle United/Adidas Lister Storm) -- It's going well. We just have a sticky gear-change at the moment. It just doesn't want to change down. It sometimes sticks in fourth gear. Other than that we don't seem to have any problems. It's run quite smoothly except we've had a couple stop-and-go penalties we didn't need because we're not used to the American rules in the pits. The mechanic refueled the car with his (helmet) visor up instead of having it down, and there was something else I'm not sure of. (On improvement of car from last year to this.) We're three seconds a lap quicker than last year. This car is 150 kilos lighter than last year. Everything's improved and the team's getting better.


DIDIER THEYS (No. 30 MOMO Ferrari 333 SP) -- An oil line to the sensor came loose and oil went into the undertray and collected. When the oil touched the headers all of a sudden it started to burn and burned up the wiring system. They replaced the complete wiring harness of the car (team publicist Barbara Burns said the job was accomplished in 86 minutes from the time it came on pit road -- a job that would take "all day" in the shop.) That is wire all over the place for the engine management system (Burns described it as an "octopus.") We're 42 laps down but it could've been worse without the yellows. It's a long night.

TIFF NEEDELL (No. 46 GTS-1 Newcastle United/Adidas Lister Storm) -- "The gearbox is jammed in fourth gear. It was sticking a bit going out of fourth gear and now it's stuck in fourth (at about 11:10). It's a problem we've had before (including in the night last year at the Rolex 24)." (Kenny Acheson, who was driving the Storm last year when it was involved in an end-over-end accident on the backstretch, is with the team as "consultant" this year, was holding a spotlight for the mechanics working on the car.)

PETER KUHN (Team manager MSI Racing Chevy R&S Mk. III) -- "We had a bearing problem in one of the halfshafts. That was the start of our problems and ultimately put us out. We had a serious vibration that was either going to result in the transmission or engine breaking so we decided the best decision was to park the car. We knew this was one of the things we might face with a new car coming out of the box." Xx - Saturday

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Series IMSA Others
Drivers Andy Wallace , James Weaver , John Paul , Kenny Acheson