Grand AM » 1 January 1901
Grand-Am: Buckler pleased with `true TRG` effort.
The team may not have been able to repeat past glories at the Rolex 24, but TRG boss Kevin Buckler was just as proud of his charges as he would have had they won.
The #64 Porsche 997 of Jim Lowe, Jim Pace, Johannes van Overbeek and Ralf Kelleners came out best of the five-car TRG line-up, finishing on the GT podium with a strong third place in a highly-competitive class to add another podium to Buckler's roll. van Overbeek took the chequered flag for the team, which performed steadily for the entire 24 hours without running into any major problems, weather aside.
“For me to come here to Daytona last year, in my rookie year, and finish the race was a feat in itself, but I can't describe the feeling of getting to the podium at the Rolex 24," Lowe admitted, "With about 90 minutes left to race, it occurred to me that we had a shot at it – Jim Pace, Johannes van Overbeek and Ralf Kelleners are exceptional professionals, and it was my job to get them the chance to win the race. I'm thrilled to have this accomplishment under my belt, and I can't wait for the rest of the season.”
The #67 TRG Porsche of Pierre Bourque, Tom Cloet, Michael Solley and Auston Harris finished twelfth in class after running a clean and solid race, allowing 16-year old Harris to become the latest graduate of TRG's young driver programme. The #65 entry of Michael Gomez, Murray Marden, Brent Milner and John Peterson finished 13th despite damage to the car's bodywork caused by a blown tyre midway through the race, while the #68 Porsche of Ted Ballou, Brad Jaeger, Rocco DeSimone and Chris Gleason finished 15th on the back of a trouble-free and relatively uneventful race.
The much-fancied #66 crew of Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly, RJ Valentine, Mark Greenberg and team boss Buckler only finished 17th after a disappointing incident took them out of contention while running second in class in the 18th hour. Buckler had just received a full tank of fuel and a new set of tyres to start the second of his consecutive stints when he was hit from behind, destroying the right-rear suspension and requiring extensive repairs.
"We had a bit of a tough break in the #66 car - we were solidly in P2 when a prototype hit me, but that's racing," he reflected, "But we competed in true TRG fashion today – for all five of our cars to finish strong is a fantastic achievement.
"For our #64 guys in the JLowe car to lead the charge is a proud moment for the team and me. Jim Lowe, Jim Pace, Johannes and Ralf drove a very smart, very controlled race today, which is what's required to win here. I'm also proud of the #65, #67 and #68 guys - many of whom were rookies at Daytona. For us, as a team, to have all the cars finish is great.”
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