Spirit of Daytona Racing team owner Troy Flis got almost exactly what he wanted from the first weekend of racing in the 2013 Rolex Series at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“I told myself coming in, I’d take a top five,” said Flis following the race. “I can’t be mad at myself for that. We got the top five- it was some big picture racing at the end of the day. We had some issues we needed to get over and we knew we were going to be behind some of the other competitors here. All in all, I think it was a decent weekend for us. We had an off in the middle of the night and it kind of bit us throughout the rest of the time and that’s what kind of hurt us I think.”
The team rallied back to finish fifth overall after a number of problems. The most spectacular was an exhaust bracket dragging on the track surface, sending up a rooster tail of sparks up into the early hours of the night at Daytona International Speedway while an electrical problem during the race switched all the cockpit lights off and left the headlights flashing.
Despite the problems the team – with drivers Richard Westbrook, Ricky Taylor, Oliver Gavin and Antonio Garcia – regained the lead lap in the final hours through another flurry of technical problems on the #90 Corvette DP meant the spent two lap in the pits, where they actually completed the 24 hours.
“I never would have thought that you’d end the race like that–like we did–coming in, spending two laps in the pits, and still getting my best ever 24 Hours result,” said Taylor, who will partner Westbrook for the full Rolex Series campaign. “It’s good to get some solid points. We could have easily come away with 15th place points–it’s the easiest race to lose a lot of points, so that’s really good. To have finished third in the championship last year with a bad 24 Hours, just kicking the year off stronger–I think we’re going to be chasing the two toughest teams who are first and second anyway, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Though his team achieved the top five he was aiming for one element of the finish left Flis unsatisfied as the VelocityWW and Action Express Racing squads – also in Corvette Daytona Prototypes – finished second and fourth respectively.
“Our goal is always to be the top finishing Chevy,” said Flis. “We ended up being third today which doesn’t make me happy, but I think the #10 car [VelocityWW] had a better car from day one at this racetrack for whatever reason. But even this morning, we had a car that we could compete with those guys, but little things would come up and they were all related to this one off. So that’s what I’m disappointed in.”
The Rolex Series continues on March 2, with the championship’s first visit to the Circuit of the Americas, the new home of the US Grand Prix.