1 February 2010
Action Express Racing stun with Rolex 24 win
Derek Johnston, the 2008-2009 British Radical UK Cup champion, drove in the event after winning the inaugural Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge, and finished 10th in class, sharing the #77 McDonald's Ford Dallara with Memo Gidley, Brad Jaeger and Fabrizio Gollin.
Defending race winners Rice and Garcia, sharing the #90 Menards Porsche Coyote with Paul Menard and Darren Manning, finished 13th in Daytona Prototypes.
Action Express Racing was formed during the offseason when Brumos cut back to a one-car team. Longtime team associate Bob Johnson leased a Riley chassis and mated it with a Porsche Cayenne-based V-8 engine.
The dawn hours saw terrific racing between Barbosa and Papis, who battled nose to tail for several laps.
"That's why Chip hired me," Papis said. "He hired me to run fast and take chances. I leave my friends at home."
The winners' average speed was 111.930 mph. The race was slowed 16 times by caution for 74 laps.
Meanwhile in the GT class SpeedSource's 'never give up' motto was evident in making up several positions and laps during the latter stages of the race. Once down seven laps to the class leaders, #70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 co-drivers Sylvain Tremblay, Nick Ham, David Haskell and Jonathan Bomarito climbed back from a deep deficit to give the team its second Rolex 24 victory in three years. It was the second Rolex 24 class victory for Tremblay, Ham and Haskell, and Bomarito's first. It also marked Mazda's 23rd class victory in the Rolex 24.
"This win is for all the dealers, 900 of them all across North America and Mexico," Tremblay said. "And I think we have over 9,000 members in Mazda Speed Motorsports and club racers, that have the same will to win, the will to never give up. And that's what it was all about."
Tremblay started third in the #70, but wasn't able to stay up front early. The car lost two laps between the third and fourth hours and several more when Bomarito radioed to his crew the car was suffering from a vibration. By the 14th hour, the car was sixth in GT, but seven laps off the leader's pace. However, problems - mechanical woes and running out of fuel, among them - plagued SpeedSource's competitors, and by the 20th hour, the Mazda RX-8 led the class. Additional misfortunes by other competitors, coupled with SpeedSource's efforts, put the quartet ahead by four laps over the #67 ShoreTel/Openwave Porsche GT3 and co-drivers Seth Neiman, Johannes van Overbeek and 2009 co-winners Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long.
The SpeedSource drivers let the race come to them, and then stayed in position to take the victory. For 16 consecutive hours, no car from a team other than TRG or Stevenson Motorsports led the GT class. In fact, the two teams held the top five positions for most of that time as well.
Van Overbeek, Bergmeister and Long all led laps, both Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, and fought #71 TRG Porsche GT3 teammates and two Stevenson Camaros for the top spot.
But during the final quarter of the race, that all changed. Stevenson Motorsports driver Andrew Davis in the#57 BryanMark Financial/Stevenson Automotive Group Camaro vacated the lead when he brought his car behind the wall with transmission problems; all three drivers led, and combined for a race-high 217 laps. In the next two hours, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Bobby Labonte in the #71 TRG machine ran out of fuel on the superstretch. Though it occurred under caution, it was the last time the #71 led during the day.
The #67 Porsche GT3 also suffered setbacks - in fact, twice - while leading during the race's final six hours. A broken spring and a stuck throttle forced the team from the point both times.
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