Brumos beat Ganassi to Daytona win
|By Diego Mejia||Sunday, January 25th 2009, 20:34 GMT|
In one of the most exciting finishes in the history of the Rolex 24, the No.58 Brumos Porsche of David Donohue, Antonio Garcia, Darren Law and Buddy Rice beat the defending champion car of Chip Ganassi Racing at Daytona.
After a long and gruelling battle, Donohue won his team the race when he passed Juan Pablo Montoya for the lead in the last hour as the Colombian hit traffic in the Bus Stop chicane on lap 712.
The American made the most of the straightline speed of his Porsche-powered Riley, timing his pass perfectly to grab the lead back after leading more laps than any other car throughout the event. He then resisted huge pressure from Montoya to clinch the win by just 0.167 seconds - the race's closest margin of victory ever.
"I'm not sure I remember the pass," said Donohue, son of the late Mark Donohue, winner of the 1969 Daytona 24 Hours.
"We really had the top end (speed) but you had to know how to use it. I did a lot of testing with IROC and when you run with the IROC test drivers you're all connected on the same radio frequency and we did a lot of running here. I basically used what I learned there and that's how I was able to do it.
"It wasn't that we could just sit there and drive by. We had to plan it and it wasn't so easy. Juan protected a lot and I had to really plan it and seize the opportunity when it surfaced."
The team's victory is the fourth overall for Brumos Porsche, making them the outfit with the most victories in the top class in the history of the event. For Donohue, who had qualified the car on pole position, it was also his maiden Rolex 24 win.
Montoya and Pruett couldn't complete a hat-trick of victories, although the Colombian said he was surprised he was able to battle for the win, given the power deficit they faced relative to the Porsches.
He made every effort to put Donohue under pressure after losing the lead, but even when making the most out of the traffic, he was left frustrated by not being able to get a clear shot at retaking the lead.
"I was even surprised we were able to fight for the win," Montoya said. "Every stint the Brumos and the Penske (cars) would drive away from us easily. I drove my butt off and I knew if I would get any traffic on the Bus Stop I was done. And I did and I was done.
"It didn't matter how many times they made mistakes. They just kept driving off from me, even when I was in the draft. But it is what it is. They're going to have a fun year."
For Brumos there was double reason for joy as their second car was driven to the chequered flag in third place by Portuguese Joao Barbosa, also leading a good number of laps throughout the race. Barbosa had been running second following the penultimate caution, but he was unable to get by Montoya. The car had run right with the No.58 and the Ganassi No.01 in a tense three-way battle until Barbosa lost ground in traffic in the closing minutes.
The 2005 winning team of Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor, teamed with Brian Frisselle and Pedro Lamy, was fourth in the only survivor from the Ford camp as electrical issues hampered their other teams. Their SunTrust Racing entry led the race for a portion of Sunday morning and was the last car finishing on the lead lap.
Angelelli looked a threat for victory in the last two hours of the race and at one point he split the two Brumos Riley-Porsches, but he couldn't stay close enough to the battle for victory in the last hour of the race.
"We are happy coming out of here in fourth place," said Taylor. "We got good points and we know now we have a good package. We have run 24 hours so we should be able to finish the shorter race. Our sights are on the championship. That is what it is all about for us."
The second Ganassi car of Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Alex Lloyd was fifth but several laps down, as they couldn't come back from the brake issues and bodywork damage they faced in the early hours of Sunday.
Similarly the Penske Porsche Riley of American Le Mans Series LMP2 champions Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, joined by Ryan Briscoe, was unable to recover from a long stop forced by a transmission failure on Sunday morning, after they had led most of the way into the dawn.
Former Grand Am champions Alex Gurney and John Fogarty were seventh after going through transmission problems while Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was at the wheel of their GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing car.
IndyCar star Danica Patrick didn't have any luck either as her Childress-Howard Motorsports Pontiac Crawford finished eighth and 33 laps down. Former Rolex 24 winners Casey Mears and Andy Wallace shared the drive with her along with Rob Finlay but mechanical and handling issues hampered their race.
In the GT class victory went to the TRG Porsche of former Daytona Prototype racers Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long, who teamed with Andy Lally, Justin Marks and RJ Valentine. They finished an impressive ninth overall followed by a sister TRG machine.
The No.86 Farnbacher Loles Porsche of Dominic Farnbacher, Eric Lux, Matthew Martin and Kevin Roush was looking the clear favorite for the class win until a broken driveshaft took them out of contention in the closing hours of the event.
A record 25 cautions came out during the day of racing, keeping the field frozen for exactly one hundred laps of the 735 that the winners completed. Nine different cars held the overall lead of the race.
Pos Drivers Team Car Laps 1. Donohue/Garcia/Law/Rice Brumos Porsche/Riley 735 2. Dixon/Montoya/Pruett/Rojas Ganassi Lexus/Riley 735 3. Barbosa/Borcheller/France/Haywood Brumos Porsche/Riley 735 4. Angelelli/Frisselle/Lamy/Taylor SunTrust Ford/Dallara 735 5. Dixon/Franchitti/Lloyd/Pruett Ganassi Lexus/Riley 731 6. Bernhard/Briscoe/Dumas Penske Porsche/Riley 717 7. Fogarty/Gurney/Johnson/Vasser GAINSCO Pontiac/Riley 714 8. Finlay/Mears/Patrick/Wallace Howard Pontiac/Crawford 702 9. B'meister/Lally/Long/Marks/V'tine TRG Porsche GT3 695 10. Ballou/Collard/George/Lietz/P'pelly TRG Porsche GT3 694