You drive carefully, you don't mistakes and you win your class. At least that's what happened to the #67 TRG Porsche driven by Andy Lally (three time winner), Spencer Pumpelly (two time winner), Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler (two time winner) and NASCAR truck drivers Brendan Gaughan and Steve Bertheau (this was the first Rolex 24 for both NASCAR drives).
“We didn't have a clutch for the last 17 hours and you can't make any mistakes without a clutch, especially leaving the pits. If you spin out, you have to be towed back and lose three or four laps and you might as well pack it in at that point and go home. I suppose it was a learning process the first few times as everyone on the team had to shift with no clutch. Being disqualified from the pole position was disappointing because he wanted the team prestige of qualifying with that honor. But it lit a fire under me and I drive better angry,“ said Lally.
The #67 TRG Porsche was just one of five fielded by Kevin Buckler's veteran team. In fact, TRG is one of only two teams to win the overall race (in 2003) with a car running in the GT class and this win gives them their fourth class victory.
Following close on TRG's heals for second place on the GT podium, but still two laps back, is the #48 Paul Miller Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, driven by Bryan Sellers, Rob Bell, Bryce Miller and Tim Sugden. Paul, a Porsche dealer from NJ, has a history with Daytona. As a driver himself, he raced here in the '80s and his son Bryce is familiar to Porsche fans for his time driving with Dirk Werner for most of the 2007 Grand-Am season, where they won six Rolex Grand-Am GT races leading Werner to the GT championship.
“The biggest challenge we faced was to perform as well as the car. Our crew is top notch and that they put together an amazing vehicle, so the drivers had to live up to their efforts on the track,“ said Bryce Miller.
Rounding out the podium in third place is Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster, Charles Espenlaub and Tom Long. Today's race , gives the Dempsey Racing's No. 40 Mazda RX-8 its first Rolex Series podium.
"It was pretty emotional," said Dempsey, who joined his teammates in scoring their best Rolex Series finish. The team led 197 laps with Dempsey out front for 28 of them. "To be on the wall and hear everybody's journey with each stint was an incredibly joyous, magic, fun moment. It's validation for all of their hard work, and this is a team sport."
Overall the 2011 Was a Very Good Race for Porsche
“Winning the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona is always a great accomplishment, but the effort of our customer teams to achieve a victory as well as four of the top five GT positions speaks to their level of preparation for this challenging event. Congratulations to TRG, Paul Miller Racing, Magnus Racing, and Brumos Racing for their top five finishes with their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. And we are proud of our factory drivers – Wolf Henzler, Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz, and Marco Holzer - who helped these teams to their result. And for the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche Riley squad, they had the fastest car, put it on the pole, turned the fastest lap of the race, and would have been there at the end if not for some back luck – Patrick Long, Joerg Bergmeister, Seth Neiman and Johannes van Overbeek showed what our Porsche 911-based engine can do in a Daytona Prototype,” said Jens Walther, president of Porsche Motorsport North America.
Bad Luck Plagues the Flying Lizard Team
Despite having the fastest car, turning the fastest laps of the race and Joerg Bergmeister putting the # 45 Daytona Prototype on pole, the Flying Lizard team had to bow out of the race with less than two hours to go after a series of unfortunate circumstances led to a race ending oil fire.
"At the end of his final stint, Joerg lost drive, and there was a small fire in the engine bay. He's fine, but the car was done. We don't really know what happened yet, but at this point it seems likely that there was more damage than we realized from the incidents early in the race. The entire team did a fantastic job this weekend – from preparing the car to qualifying on the pole to running an extremely hard, consistent race," said team principal Seth Neiman.
The circumstances referred to by Neiman aboveincluded being hit in the rear, an unavoidable off-track excursion to avoid what could have been devastating , an untimely flat tire in the seventh hour, an extended pit-stop for a brake bleed and ultimately the fire that ended their race. Remarkably, according to Porsche, the engine is in perfect shape and could have continued the race had the fire not caused other severe damage.
The best placed Porsche in the DP (and overall) classification finished third with Joao Barbosa (Portugal), Christian Fittipaldi (Brazil), Max Papis (Italy), Terry Borcheller and JC France acting as pilots. The power-unit of the Porsche Riley fielded by Action Express Racing was a privately-developed eight-cylinder engine based on the Porsche Cayenne. Their sister car, which had led on and off over the distance, finished the race in ninth place.
Hurley Haywoods Return to Racing
For Hurley Haywood fans, Brumos Racing and the #59 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup didn't disappoint. While a podium finish is always better, fifth in this field is a very good finish. Not only did the Brumos' Porsche hold first a number of times during the race, they would have been a top three finisher had it not been for a broken radiator during the night.
2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona Race Results
1. Pruett/Rojas/Rahal/Hand (USA/MEX/USA/USA), BMW-Riley (DP), 720 laps
2. Dixon/Franchitti/Montoya/MacMurray (NZ/GB/COL/USA), BMW-Riley (DP), 720
3. Barbosa/Borcheller/France/Papis/Fittipaldi (P/USA/USA/I/BRA), Porsche-Riley (DP), 720
1. Henzler/Lally/Pumpelly/Gaughan/Bertheau (D/USA/USA/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 685 laps
2. Miller/Sellers/Bell/Sugden (USA/USA/USA/GB), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 684
3. Espenlaub/Foster/Dempsey/Long (USA/USA/USA/USA), Mazda, 681
4. Lietz/Holzer/Stanton/Potter (A/D/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 675
5. Lieb/Haywood/Keen/Davis (D/USA/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 673
6. Tremblay/Edwards/Christodoulou/Bomarito (USA/USA/GB/USA), Mazda, 670
Related Porsche Posts
Listen to the Sounds of Racing from the Rolex 24 at Daytona
Facts and Figures about Porsche in the Rolex 24 at Daytona
A Video Look at Porsche and Hurley Haywood's History at Daytona
Porsche has 15 Entries in the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona
[Source: PCNA, FlyingLizard, Grand-Am]