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Jan 27, 2014 - 04:44 PM
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GB Autosport Embraces Challenge of First Rolex 24
Posted by: newsla on Jan 27, 2014 - 04:40 PM
Grand Am News
GB Autosport Embraces Challenge of First Rolex 24


In a race that is touted as a test of man and machine, GB Autosport showed that both the race team and its equipment were up to the task as the group debuted in the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Putting years of experience and months of preparation to the test, GB Autosport demonstrated that the team had the depth of talent to compete at the front of the IMSA GTD field.

 

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The No. 81 Tully’s Porsche 911 GT also proved its mettle, running strong throughout the 24 hours in the capable hands of Bob Faieta, Damien Faulkner and Patrick Huisman despite the car suffering from multiple significant incidents of contact during the race that thwarted any chance at a significant result in the big race.

Faulkner took the controls for the opening stages of the race and was promptly up to speed in the Tully’s liveried machine as he moved up to the top ten. The team’s hard work in advance of the event was on display as the No. 81 moved to the front of the pack and lead the event as the clock neared the two hour mark.

The team’s first driver change in the second hour of the race went off without a hitch as Bob Faieta slid behind the wheel the No. 81 Porsche GT Daytona and cycled back out into 12th position.

Unfortunately a significant accident brought out a red flag and left Faieta sitting sideways on the banking for most of his first stint while emergency personnel worked to ensure the safe resolution of the accident scene. After being stopped for over an hour, Faieta capitalized on the re-start and worked his way up to eighth position before turning the driving duties over to Huisman.

However contact with another GT car in the seventh hour forced Faulkner to take the damaged Porsche back to the garage for repairs and put a kink in the team’s well-thought out race strategy.

Working in the dark of night, the crew made quick work of the repairs, fixing an issue with the cooling system and getting it back out on track and into the race.

Throughout the long, dark night the GB crew worked tirelessly, making up laps lost during repairs and maintaining their relative position in their class with a bit of help from their sponsor, Tully’s Coffee, and the baristas staffing the mobile Tully’s bar in their pit.

But the hits literally kept on coming as contact from yet another GT car early Sunday morning created even more problems for the already battered car. However, the team was able make repairs without returning to the garage and stay on schedule until it was time to slot Huisman back in.

In his early morning stint, Huisman gave hope to the team, setting faster lap times than they had seen all night long and gaining positions. But ultimately, the damage proved to be too much for the Tully’s machine and a run-off in the bus stop due to brake failure forced Husiman to again return to the garage for more repairs. The crew proved their strength and speed off-track, repairing a broken radiator and returning Huisman to the track in just under 20 minutes.

Another stint for Faulker featured one more incident, this time leaving the No. 81 without a splitter for the finish of the race.

Despite the bumps and bruises on the car and the extreme work effort of the crew, the final hours of the race went smoothly for GB Autosport in spite of worsening track conditions and a severely damaged car. But the multiple hits saw the team pay a big price in final results as the car crossed the line 25th in class.

“As many of these races as I have done they are always challenging and difficult,” said Cole Scrogham, team manager. “You try to pick the good things out of them for sure. This was probably the most difficult race I think I have ever been a part of and I have done about 20 of these. So it is time for the Tully’s machine to go back and regroup a little bit and possibly start over. Having three avoidable contacts in one race, with all them creating damage is difficult. But that is part of it. We are looking forward and Sebring presents its own challenges. It is difficult in a number of other ways, but I think we have a great car and a great core team, so we will be able to go there and compete.”

While a more challenging outing than the GB Autosport crew had hoped for, the newly formed team proved both to themselves and everyone watching that they simply will not quit and now look forward to building on what they have learned and achieving positive results.

GB Autosport Driver Quoteboard:

Damien Faulkner – “We just took a beating really since the crash last night to be honest. I think that was the catalyst that started all of this. To be honest, you either win this race or you lose it. Of course we would have loved to have finished and to have challenged for the win, but honestly there is really no point in even finishing 10th either. I think we have learned a lot throughout this race. This team came together very late and I think we have done a massive amount in a very short space of time. A lot of the other teams had a lot more testing than we did. But we came here and were pretty competitive and then qualifying didn't really work out for us. But during the race we led our class right from the beginning when I was out there. So we just have to keep our heads high and go away from here and not look back too much. We have to take the things we learned this weekend and try and make ourselves better for the next few races. All the ingredients are here, they are in place. It is just a matter of it all coming together in harmony. There are some great people here and it's just a shame for all of the boys and our sponsors. So on to the next one.

Bob Faieta – “The crew ended up taking the splitter off the car and the front is damaged so it was a very difficult drive during my last stint. It wasn't absolutely terrible; we had a clean stint with no contact so that is always positive in a 24-hour race. I'm just really looking forward to Sebring now. I have experience there, actually more experience at that track than here at Daytona, so I am looking forward to it and feeling good about it."

Patrick Huisman – “It was a challenging race, but I am happy that we finished. I’m also just happy that it is over. Especially after the incidents last night, we lost so much time there it seems like you are basically just driving around to finish the race. But the crew worked really hard and for a new team I think we did a really good job and we will only get better from here. We definitely have a lot of work to do on the car for races to come, but I think we learned a lot about how the car handles this weekend.”

The team will look to gain championship traction in round two March 12-15 at Sebring International Raceway.


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