Bouncing back after a disappointing 2006 campaign, seventh place at the Rolex 24 would have been satisfying for most, but Kevin Doran was a frustrated man as the Daytona classic packed up for another year.
Doran's Feeds the Need team started 15th and was never lower than that in the hourly standings, and always in the top ten from the fourth hour, as Memo Gidley, Fabrizio Gollin, Michel Jourdain Jr and Oriol Servia performed steadily through all that the weather could throw at them. None of the drivers had an accident, but the FTN/Doran car suffered two unscheduled trips to the garage area - which proved to be the source of the team boss' frustration - as well a flat right-rear while Jourdain was driving and some issues with the brakes for all four drivers.
"We had three unscheduled mess-ups," Doran fumed, "The first was when Marc Goossens blocked us in the pit box for our first pit-stop. He very aggressively and, in my opinion, in an unsportsmanlike way, drove alongside of us, and that was our first minute lost.
"Then we had a problem with an alternator wire about two laps before a pace car yellow. We were able to have the driver go directly to the garage and we made the repair quickly, but that cost us four laps. Then we were only two laps off the lead in fifth place when a stone made its way through the screening and punctured the radiator. We were fortunate that we could do that on a yellow too, but we drove down to the pit box first before we were able to identify the problem and know that we had to go back to the garage - it's kind of hard to identify a water leak in the rain, but changing the radiator took six laps."
While he may not have been too pleased with the team's luck, Doran was happier with the way his machinery had performed.
"I was very pleased with our engine," he pointed out, "We ran quite a few more miles on this engine than we intended. We had to use our race engine for qualifying because of an accident on Thursday that actually damaged our qualifying engine. We ran an extra 100 miles on our race engine than we'd planned to run, but then
there was the red during the race due to heavy rain and fixing the guardrail, so in the end it all balanced out. However, the Ford engine is really durable. It's a strong package.You really never have any questions on a Ford engine's reliability.
"The car is hardly scratched either. It's always been a very durable car, and it's reasonably quick. We missed some set-up time due to the problem on Thursday that
would have served us well, but it's still a solid run."
All four drivers pointed to Doran's management of the team as a key factor in its performance, with Gidley and Gollin particularly praising.
"We had a couple of issues that hurt us, but Kevin made some good calls due to his experience," Gidley said, "For example, when we changed the radiator, he put brakes on the car too. He definitely made some good calls."
"Kevin's strategy, the guys on the crew and my team-mates were very good," Gollin echoed, "I'm very happy to have had this opportunity to be with these great drivers. It
was really a dream team. The guys did a great job, and I think this team had the potential to win the race if we would have had no problems."