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Porsche Brings the Action to Daytona 24

January 31, 2010
Jackie Buys

It’s official. The 2010 Race season is here. During the weekend of January 28th – 31st professional road racing got underway with the Grand-Am Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. The driver list was a who’s who of the World’s Top Porsche drivers. Porsche Motorsports sent over their chosen, namely six of the nine Porsche Factory drivers: Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard, Wolf Henzler, Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Long and Richard Lietz. Also present were the top Porsche Super Cup and Carrera Cup drivers from Europe and Asia, Joreon Bleekemolen, Tim Sugden and Martin Ragginger. Mixing these drivers among various Porsche teams made for a high-octane martini of driver talent to shake up the Mazdas and Corvettes on the track.

Throughout the weekend fans made the rounds among the Porsche teams and soaked in the sights and sounds of the Speedway. The raceway was especially magical during the night. Whether on the grandstand or atop the Ferris wheel at midnight, spectators followed the bright headlights as they travel through the turns and down the straight, and the scoring tower glowed neon red. Camping sites were filled to capacity and the Porsche Corral was packed with every member of the Porsche family tree.

Back at the garages, teams were scurrying about making final preparations, drivers greeted fans, and fans admired their favorite manufacturers. BMW, Ford, Mazda, Porsche, Chevrolet.

Several cars under the TRG banner were piloted by noteworthy drivers and two took their place on the podium. Driving the No 67 TRG/Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup was Seth Neiman, Johannes van Overbeek along with Porsche Factory Drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long. TRG/Flying Lizards held the lead during the final six hours until experiencing a broken spring and stuck throttle. Falling behind by four laps, the GT Class win went to No 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 of Sylvain Tremblay, Nick Ham, David Haskell and Jonathan Bomarito. Third Place in GT was secured by the No 66 TRG AXA Porsche with Factory Driver, Wolf Henzler, along with Andy Lally, Kelly Collins, Ted Ballou and Pat Flanagan.

Other Porsche GT3 teams experienced the good, bad and the ugly of racing. Over at Obit Racing, the No 88 Porsche driven by Tom Papadopolous and John Baker from New York, along with Guy Cosmo, Johnny Mowlen and Lance Willsey, moved up to 6th in GT, only to have their race ended Sunday morning when an oil line broke and the No 88 burst into flames.

Back for their 5th Rolex 24 at Daytona experience were Dr. Jim Lowe, “The World’s Fastest Neurosurgeon” and Jim Pace in the No 64 JLowe Racing Porsche. Lowe recalled his first time at Daytona in 2004 as “the adventure of a lifetime.” Joining them this year were Tim Sugden, the Porsche Super Cup Asia Champion, James Walker, Formula Renault open-wheel Champion and veteran Grand-Am driver, Eric Lux.

JLowe Racing in partnership with Siemans Gigaset, was here to raise awareness for “ThinkFirst” – The National Injury Prevention Foundation, educating school age children to avoid actions that could lead to brain and spinal cord injuries. Information about “ThinkFirst” and their tree-planting fund raiser initiative can be found at JLowe Racing and While Eric Lux encountered heavy rains at the onset of the race, he brought No 64 JLowe Racing Porsche GT3 Cup car from 17th on grid to P2 in GT class. Tim Sugden maintained a top five position; however, during the third driver rotation of James Walker, the car was retired because to a failed piston. Despite the disappointing outcome for the race, Jim Lowe acknowledged the fantastic efforts of Eric, Tim and James to maintain the car in a top position and keeping it safe during the tough conditions.

An adjacent trailer housed the team for the No 14 Autometrics Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup car. This was a gentlemen driver lineup of Ron Yarab Jr, Daniel Graeff, Seth Thomas, Glen Gatlin and team owner/driver Cory Friedman. This Porsche was covered in the familiar livery of the Racing 4 Research - Children’s Tumor Foundation, which has competed every year since 2004 at Daytona. The team races toward the goal of fueling the cure for Neurofibromatosis. NF is caused by tumors in the brain that lead to various stages of neurological and physical disabilities in children. To have the No 14 car and drivers present again this year was a testament to the commitment of those involved in the Children’s Tumor Foundation and to Cory Friedman, owner of Autometrics Motorsports. Previously, the car was supported by Farnbacher Loles Racing and, since their dissolution, finding a car, a skilled crew and sufficient resources on such short notice was quite a challenge. Ron Yarab, Jr., surgeon and gentlemen driver, related how the children and their families raised funds to participate in this year’s Daytona 24 and donated monies directly into the Research Fund which receives NO national funding. As Ron warned, the drivers visibly show their emotions when meeting with and talking face to face with the kids. On the receiving end, the kids soak up the attention and it is not hard to tell how much they enjoy being a part of the team. As for their results at the end of the 24 hours, the No 14 Autometrics Motorsport – Racing4Research Porsche GT3 Cup started from the back in 25th and finished without major incident in 15th place. A staggering $374,000 was raised to fuel the cure for Neurofibromatosis. More information about this disorder can be found at Children's Tumor Foundation : Racing4Research.

Appearing in their first 24 Hours was the newly organized No 44 Magnus Racing Porsche with team owner/driver John Potter and Craig Stanton and finished in P5 in GT. Crew Chief, John Bedell of T&S Motorworks in New York,has participated in 10 consecutive Rolex 24 Hours as part of the TRG Crew and now with the new team of Magnus Racing. Joining Potter and Stanton behind the wheel were two exceptionally accomplished drivers; Jeroen Bleekemolen, Porsche Super Cup series Champion and Porsche Factory Driver, Richard Lietz. Over the 24 hour period, the No 44 Porsche GT3 experienced a few minor incidents, but John Bedell kept the crew on their toes and everyone was pleased with a 5th place finish. Magnus Racing will be participating in a full Grand-Am Rolex schedule for 2010. This will be a team to watch throughout the season.

Let’s not forget the highlight of the race; Celebrating in Victory Lane. Porsche won Daytona with the No 9 Action Express Porsche V8 powered Riley driven by Mike Rockenfeller, Joao Barbosa, Terry Borcheller and Ryan Dalziel. This win was as sweet as the Champaign as Joao Barbosa held off 3-time Rolex winner, Scott Pruett by 52.303 seconds. The four Action Express Racing drivers combined lead for 316 of the 755 laps completed.

Porsche Wins Daytona!

The 48th running of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona was certainly a good weekend for Porsche

All photos Jackie Buys

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