Transmission failure ended an already disappointing Rolex 24 at Daytona for Stevenson Motorsports, the team already struggling with a profound lack of pace against their GT class rivals.
The team’s Chevrolet Camaro did briefly lead the ultra-competitive class, however, by their own admission their visits to the top spot were down to strategy, rather than speed, where the teams running Porsche, Ferrari or Audi machinery had the clear advantage.
The disadvantage and the need for the drivers to push harder in an effort to compensate, team manager Mike Johnson believes, may have contributed to the beginning of the team’s problems when a brake line issue brought the #57 car back to the garages, the team plummeting down the order while the team worked on a repair.
“What happened is just racing, but I’m proud of my guys after that brake situation,” said team owner John Stevenson. “In all my years of doing this, I’ve never seen anything so bizarre in my life as a brake line pinching a hole in it. The guys did a hell of a job getting the car back out and it looked like we were going to get a chance to maybe get back up there somewhere in that top-10.”
The unusual problem repaired the team with Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner and Jan Magnussen joining Stevenson regulars John Edwards and Robin Liddell began to drive back up the field, picking up laps on the class leaders moving towards the bottom of the top ten.
However, a new problem emerged, the car losing first and second gears before total failure left the team stuck on 595 laps completed, finishing 24th in class, though they will score points for a 15th place finish in the Rolex Series standings, a small yet potentially important fact for Liddell and Edward’s championship challenge.
Edwards lamented; “unfortunately we’re dealing with a very sensitive gearbox while most of the other cars that came over from Europe with a GT3 base have paddle shifters and autoblip, and everything so that’s one of our biggest concerns that they don’t even have to think about.”
“It was not just a disappointing outcome, it was a disappointing performance,” added Liddell. “We actually didn’t really have any pace for anybody last night. Pretty much all the Audis, Ferraris, and Porsches were quicker than us, and all we could do was hustle the hell out of the car and try to keep up with them. You know with four professional drivers that was probably something that played into our strength, but in order for us to get a result of any description, we were going to have to have a perfect race, and in the end we weren’t able to do that for different reasons.”