DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY – 23 JANUARY 22
Some words from our team…
“Mistakes were made”, pretty much sums up our event. I think we all knew there would be some difficulties, but we also expected to perform well. The little mistakes we made resulted in huge problems, and that’s exactly what we needed to avoid. But even with those setbacks, we were still running consistently quick times, on pace with, or better than the leaders.
It would have been easy for us to just call it quits after the first incident on lap 18. Sitting in the pits waiting on repairs for over 40 minutes, less than an hour into a 24-hour race, is not an enjoyable experience, especially when we were in P3. We were dejected, but we kept going. We knew we wouldn’t be able to win, but at that point it wasn’t about winning. It was about pushing through the adversity and making it to the finish, regardless of the finishing order.
I’m happy with my performance overall, only having one minor incident during my first stint. I’m also pleased with how well we all worked as a team. Everyone stuck around for long periods, and we never left someone alone for longer than a few minutes. We had outstanding communication over the entire 24 hours, and always had each others’ backs. For me, that was the best highlight of it all.
I was nervous going into the session already. I knew i didn’t have to prove anything, but i also didn’t want to make any big mistakes that could severely impact our race. Practice felt alright, track condition was a bit slidy but we expected that much. When testing the qualifying setup it felt good, I was hitting 43’s (1:43 lap time) and I could keep it on track.
Qualifying in P8 was fine. I wasn’t directly in the mid pack, but also had some buffer to the racier guys in front, which worked out well. But, I was incredibly nervous again. I knew what I had to do: Stay out of trouble and stick with another car to maybe try and save some fuel. I did the first part of that in the opening laps, working my way up the places until that dreaded moment.
At the exit of the bus stop (lap 18) I felt the rear going and tried to catch it. Over-corrected and hit the wall. Over 40 minutes of repair and we dropped back to P24. I felt horrible, a month of practice just to mess up that badly, but I tried to keep my head in the race.
And I’m glad that the rest of my first stints went along uneventfully. Afterwards, I watched Steven, Matt, and Pawel, and gave as much information about the race and upcoming cars as I could.
Due to Matt sitting out his last stints because of being sick, I took over one of his, doing a triple stint that went well apart from a DPi going onto the grass in the braking zone to International Horseshoe and crashing into my side. I couldn’t see him coming and the contact really wasn’t that big. The car felt fine too, it ran in a straight line and aero wasn’t impacted either, but we had another meatball flag, and 5 minutes of repair.
We kept it in P17 though and were still very close to P16, edging closer as my stints progressed. Steven took the wheel again after a short rest and he did a wonderful job, catching P16 and even P15.
It was then time for my last 2 stints to the finish. I just had to take the car home, sitting comfortably in P15. And I messed up again. Another repair, another 15 minutes lost. Nothing i could do would get us back the places that I lost, so we finished in P17, battered and bruised like our car. I could feel everyone being disappointed of not showing what we could have done because of the mistakes, but also glad that we finished our first 24-hour race.
Going into my first endurance race as a team I did not know what to expect. During the race I unfortunately made a couple mistakes which caused the team to lose quite a bit of time, but after those incidents I fell into a really good rhythm and started putting out clean and consistent lap times. I really enjoyed observing how my teammates were racing and seeing where I could improve. I am looking forward to doing more endurance races with them.
Daytona 24 was definitely a great experience. Lots of good teams and good racing. It’s a great event every year.
Due to falling ill during the week and not being able to practice I was worried about my performance. Was able to complete four stints and have minimal damage. I think as a team we had great pace and could have been top 5 but we inflicted too much self damage. We fell into a hole early and there was no way to climb back out. A great learning experience as a first team event so I think we can only go up from here.
In the end I can say that I am glad to have had this experience, and even though it wasn’t a great performance, I want to keep going. We will learn from this for sure, and it might not happen the next 2 endurance races, but I am sure we will be able to show our true pace and get the finish we want and deserve.