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Mechanical Problems Prevent Ganassi Squad’s Rolex 24 Defence

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Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (Photo Credit: Grand-Am)

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (Photo Credit: Grand-Am)

The two Riley-BMW Daytona Prototypes of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates could only finish fourth and sixth at the 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona after mechanical issues hampered both cars during the race.

Both Telmex and Target sponsored cars had their time in the lead, the no.02 leading 52 laps while the sister no.01 car driven by defending race winners Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Joey Hand and Graham Rahal was out front for 96 of the 761 laps completed by the Michael Shank Racing that won the event.

The no.01 was part of the lead battle as the race entered the final six hours, battling with Riley-Ford of Shank's no.60 team and Starworks Motorsport's no.8 entry.

Pruett fell to third place behind the latter after a restart, but the multiple Rolex Series champion encountered more problems. A gearbox problem dropping him to fifth behind the previously delayed no.02 before coming in for the Ganassi team to replace the gearbox – a feat achieved in the pits, rather than the garage – at the start of the final hour. The stop dropped Pruett back to sixth, four laps down.

“What a race. You really never know what is going to happen here,” said Pruett. “This is the big one that we all love to win in sports car racing in America. We had a great car and even with the fact we had to overcome a gearbox issue near the end, I'm just not sure we had anything for the two Fords up front. It was a total team effort like always from the Ganassi team, and Memo and I are looking forward to Barber in March.”

The sister car – crewed by Ganassi's drivers from the Indycar and NASCAR Sprint Cup paddocks – Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Jamie McMurray and Juan Montoya – led during the night, but was forced into the garage for repairs to a broken shifter shortly before 3am.

They too lost four laps to the leaders, returning to the race in ninth place at the time, but were able to regain three laps during the flurry of full course cautions towards the end of the race.

With Montoya given the responsibility of bringing the car to the checkered flag he passed Pruett for fourth place. In claiming fourth place behind the podiums of Riley-Ford the team kept up Chip Ganassi's record of having a team finish in the top five overall in every Rolex 24 since 2004.

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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