“What an experience,” Adam Christodoulou begins his post Rolex 24 thoughts. “The Daytona 24 hours was unlike anything I've ever imagined or done before. A real proving ground that requires true grit from the drivers, team and car.”
The 2008 Formula Renault UK champion was part of the Speedsource squad for the race – held on January 29-30 at Daytona International Speedway, sharing the no.70 car with Sylvain Tremblay, John Edwards and Jonathan Bomarito.
“I arrived trackside on Thursday to prepare for testing,” Christodoulou explains, “and it all went off smoothly, however it quickly became apparent that the Porsches and Chevvies had a straight line speed over the Mazdas, and we knew that at Daytona that was going to make it tough for us. On the corners the Mazda was unstoppable, but in a straight we just couldn't compete.”
“Qualifying followed on Thursday afternoon, and Sylvain was our nominated driver. It was pretty close between the Mazdas, but as a whole we were still off the pace compared to the other manufacturers. We qualified 16th out of 35 in class, 31st out of 50 cars overall; it certainly wasn’t as good as we had been hoping for.”
The race began eventfully for the team, Christodoulou detailing how a puncture caused significant bodywork damage to the right hand side of the car. However, the car continued and Adam took his first stint, “my enduring memory is that there were plenty of wild drivers taking some unnecessary risks considering we still had 18 hours of the race remaining,” he explains. The car was fighting its way up the top ten in the GT class. However, in the early hours of the morning more trouble hit the teams Mazda RX-8.
“My next stint was roughly at 2am and towards the half way point of the race,” Adam says. “On my way to the pits I was taken to the garage and my heart sunk when I saw the car in bits being stripped and repaired. Apparently we had been making huge progress within the top 10 before suffering an alternator failure, and as a consequence had lost our in-car radio link, lights and power steering. It forces us to pit.”
The stop lost the team 25 minutes, and dropped them down to 20th in class in a car that, quoting Christodoulou had “seen better days”.
Steadily, and despite a nearly three hour safety car period of fog the team climbed the rankings to lie eighth with six hours remaining, improving to sixth with just 60 minutes of the race remaining. Even with a final lap sprint after a late caution flag the gaps ahead of the team – and then driver Tremblay – were too great.
In total the no.70 car completed 670 laps. “I had completed my debut 24 hour race,” Christodoulou enthuses. “Perhaps not quite the result I was hoping for, but I was grateful for the strength of the team I had been a part of. There was never any sense of giving up even when the car wasn't in its best condition towards the end of the race. A huge amount of respect to my co-drivers and crew – I was lucky enough to be able to rest during the night between being in the car – but the crew stayed up and endured it all to make sure the car kept on running.”
“This is one race I want to be competing in every year.”