Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rolex 24: 2008 Edition

So I’ve just finished watching my selected eight hours ‘O taping of this years Rolex 24 at Daytona Beach and must say it was quite a wacky race weather-wise, eh? As their were an inordinate number of yellow flags as well as precipitation, Yet in the end once again the Cheepster was victorious. As Chip Ganassi made Daytona history by becoming the first team to win three consecutive Rolex 24’s, with his hired guns behind the wheel of his winning #01 Lexus-Riley. The victory was Scott “Jucyfruit” Pruett’s eighth victory in Florida and third overall win, with MAC Montoya notching his second consecutive Rolex time piece, while Dario “Where’s my pants” Franchitti and Memo Rojas scored their first Rolex trophy as the TCGR entry finished with a comfortable three lap lead.

Team Jimmy (Vasser & Johnson, Alex Gurney and John CCR Foggerty) finished runner-up while Roger Penske’s Wayne Taylor sister effort finished third.

In the GT ranks it was a classic storybook finish of David vs. Goliath as the little car that thought it could won the race by seven laps, as the #70 Speedsource Mazda RX8 put a whoopin’ on the rest of the field. This car was co-driven by Sylvain Tremblay, Nick Ham, David Haskell and Raphael Matos who continues to make good.

Meanwhile team Banner Engineering may wish to consider changing their name as they struggled thru a harsh 24 hours, having a not so banner outing, although The Banner Engineering #07 Pontiac GXP.R co-driven by Paul Edwards, Kelly Collins and Jan Magnussen did spend quite a few hours at the front of the GT grid chasing the #70 Mazda, with Edwards even leading the race during the night, before becoming the victim of a wayward Daytona Prototype facing the oncoming four car GT freight train Edwards was part of backwards. With the two Porsches ahead of him splitting the stricken DP, Edwards was a hapless victim with nowhere to go. After repairing the damaged Pontiac, they finished seventh in class.

Unfortunately the sister car, the #06 Banner Engineering/Shock Doctor Pontiac GXP-R co-driven by Leighton Reese, Marc Bunting, Robert Nearn and Andy Pilgrim fared even worse, struggling thru a litany of mechanical gremlins,

Once again I got to witness Robert having mechanical woes, as SPEED came back from commercial break during the 6-7AM (EDT) portion of my tape, there he was coming down pit lane with the Pontiac’s flashers flashing as Robert had a minor problem with the hood coming ajar and obscuring his vision. SHEISA!!!

Which certainly got his attention, eh? But Robert seemed to do a masterful job of maneuvering into his pit stall… As SPEED’s Andrew Marriot covered Robert’s unscheduled pit stop briefly; saying that the boys had gone to work on the rear end with torches… Which in English translates to flashlights… Thinking the wide track (“Wider is better”) Pontiac was having some sort of braking issues.

And The SPEED TV guys kept jabbering on 'bout how the Pontiac is the largest profile car in the GT ranks and doesn't punch a very good hole thru the air on the banking.

Then towards the end of my selected taping they talked to Leighton Reese (team owner) who claimed that the #06 Pontiac was having issues with rear half shafts as they were swapping out the second one, but they soldier home to a 22nd place finish in the GT class.

And now having read the post race transcripts, either the SPEED crew identified the wrong driver or Robert’s cameo pit stop to fix the hood was due to Marc Bunting’s previous spin and crash upon leaving the pits on cold tires…