The 2010 Rolex 24 at Daytona was like no other. No one can remember the annual endurance race starting with such rainy weather. Grand-Am Race Officials ran the first six laps at Daytona International Speedway under caution, an action universally applauded by the teams.
The race was also notable for the various records it set or broke.
A dark horse team, Action Express Racing, ran No.9 Porsche Riley Daytona Prototype to victory, completing 755 laps – a new record by 20 laps. JOAO BARBOSA of Portugal drove to the checkered flag. His teammates were TERRY BORCHELLER of FL, who won overall in 2004; RYAN DALZIEL of Scotland; and MIKE ROCKENFELLER of Germany.
Barbosa led the most laps – 129, followed by two of his teammates – Rockenfeller with 113 and Dalziel with 73. Their car led the most laps of the 44-car field – 316. Despite this, the team felt it was at a disadvantage, that it was down on power. Barbosa said “It was a really tough race. It’s just unbelievable for the first time the team is performing under really difficult circumstances like the 24 hours, did an amazing job.”
The team was formed recently by BOB JOHNSON and could be considered a sister team of Brumos Racing, which downsized to one car this season. They share a shop with Brumos and have the crew and resources from the excised Brumos car. However, its car is a Porsche V8.
The victory was bittersweet for Action, because Brumos Racing was doing well and five-time Rolex 24 winner, HURLEY HAYWOOD took his last (he says) stint in the Rolex race before turning it over to teammate, DAVID DONOHUE. Shortly thereafter the car imploded. Haywood has probably driven more laps around Daytona than any other driver, estimated to be 68,000-70,000. This was his thirty-seventh Rolex 24.
The Margin of Victory ahead of SCOTT PRUETT/No.01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley DP was 52.303 seconds, the only other car on the same lap. Pruett’s co-drivers were season-long teammate, MEMO ROJAS of Mexico, MAX PAPIS of Italy and JUSTIN WILSON of England.
Finishing third in DP, four laps down, was RYAN HUNTER-REAY of FL in No.95 Level 5 BMW Riley, who had to take a quick side trip on the last lap after his brakes were fried. The team experienced seat belt problems which cost them two laps. His teammates were LUCAS LUHR of Germany, owner SCOTT TUCKER of KS and RICHARD WESTBROOK of England.
The top three DP’s were Riley chassis, with one Porsche and two BMW’s. The winning car goes Sunday to the Daytona Experience, where it will remain on display through the Daytona 500.
For SpeedSource, it was the classic Thrill of Victory and Agony of Defeat.
JONATHAN BOMARITO of Monterey CA drove the No.70 Mazda RX-8 to victory, finishing first in the GT class and eighth overall. His co-drivers were NICK HAM of CO, DAVID HASKELL of FL and owner SYLVAIN TREMBLAY of FL. Bomarito said “We just had to stay out of trouble and keep the car on track, and we did that. And here we are. I got a new Rolex. I can’t believe it.”
JEFF SEGAL of FL put the sister car, No.69 on pole, but never led a lap, and the car finished twenty-eighth overall, sixteenth in class. The team DNF due to mechanical problems. The final blow was while ANTHONY LAZZARO of GA was driving the car, it had a minor flame out. The car never made it out of the garage – it was terminal. The co-drivers were EMIL ASSENTATO and NICK LONGHI, both of NY.
It was the twenty-third class win for Mazda at the Rolex 24 and the first for Bomarito, who is a product of the Mazda Driver Development Ladder. Mazda believes every ladder has to go someplace, and for Mazda, sports cars is it.
Second and third in GT were two of the five TRG entries – No.67 TRG/Flying Lizards Porsche GT3 Cup with JORG BERGMEISTER of Germany; PATRICK LONG of FL; SETH NEIMAN and JOHANNES van OVERBEEK, both of CA; and No.66 TRG Porsche with TED BALLOU , KELLY COLLINS, and PATRICK FLANAGAN of CA; and ANDY LALLY of NY.
Tremblay confirmed that there could be a third SpeedSource car at the next race in Miami. He was contacted a year ago by OSCAR MARTINEZ, who was intrigued about the international flavor of the Grand-Am Series for his two sons. Tremblay is building a car for him, hopefully to be raced at HMS in March.
TRACY KROHN/No.75 Krohn Racing Ford Lola DP won the Jim Trueman Award, which is awarded to sportsman drivers, or Pro-Am as they are called now. The award is based on a specific formula which calculates the finishing position, laps completed and time spent in the car. This is the second time Krohn has won this award.
Among the many notable statistics coming out of this race were the 59 lead changes among 29 drivers and 13 cars. There were 17 cautions for 58 laps, and nearly four hours were under caution. Of the 755 laps, 697 were green flag laps.
Pole Sitter MAX ANGELELLI/No.10 Sun Trust Racing Ford Dallara DP set the fastest race lap of 126.764 mph.
The next race for the Grand-Am Rolex Series will be 6 March 2010 at Homestead Miami Speedway.