DAYTONA BEACH,Fla. (Jan. 31, 2016) – WeatherTech Racing drivers David MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Keen (Charleston, S.C.), Shane van Gisbergen (New Zealand) and Gunnar Jeannette (Salt Lake City, Utah) finished the 54th running of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Series Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona in 13th in GTD.
The team endured ups and downs early. As the Alex Job-led team was finally able to get its first dry running of the week in the race, they spent the first quarter of the event tuning on the No. 22 WeatherTech Racing Porsche. Once the team had the new Porsche tuned into the 3.56-mile modified oval road course at the World Center of Racing, they swapped the lead all night and into the afternoon. At 1:20 p.m. today, van Gisbergen was in the car when he went into Turn 1 and came on the radio saying that something was wrong in the rear. As he kept going, he got to the infield Turn 4 and the rear wing of the Porsche came loose. This sent the Kiwi into the spin cycle and through the infield. The subsequent repairs cost the team eight laps and a 13th place finish.
“We had a good run,” Cooper MacNeil said. “We ran well all 24 hours. The car had a mechanical issue with an hour to go and that put us out of contention. Based on the lap time that the top guys were running at the end, I think we could have won the race. It is a shame to have all of the hard work of the team come down to a few small bolts breaking. On the positive side, we have some good momentum going for the start of the season.”
“That was a heartbreaking last hour,” Keen said. “I have had some tough runs at Daytona. You want whatever is going to happen early so you can fix it and get back into the fight. We had some really strong stints all night and into this morning. We were in a really great position. The car got quicker and quicker as the race went on and that is a testament to Alex Job Racing team and their preparation. We had a car that could have won. That is endurance racing.”
“Wow! What a race,” David MacNeil said. “I put in my stint early and was following the work of the team throughout the night and today. We were able to get out front and lead laps through the night and the morning. Just when our strategy was beginning to pay dividends, we had one of those twenty-five cent part failures, actually six, so it was a dollar and fifty cents. I guess you can expect those kinds of things with a brand new car. I am encouraged by the performance of the team and the way Cooper, Leh, Gunnar, and Shane drove throughout the 24 hours. We would have won the 23 hours of Daytona, but you don’t get a watch for that accomplishment.”
“Unfortunately they don’t give watches out at the 23rd hour,” Jeannette said. “One the strangest failures I have seen in racing. Unfortunately we were the only car that experienced that issue. That is why this is endurance racing. The team performed well throughout yesterday, last night and into today. We were in a good position to fight for the win. With just about an hour to go, we had a dollar part fail.”
“It wasn’t good at the end,” van Gisbergen said. “I am just gutted. It was a freak thing. I noticed it into Turn 1. I could see it wasn’t right in the mirror. A couple turns later it just spun me out in spectacular fashion. It was a big moment. The car was running great up that moment. I think the WeatherTech Porsche got better as we got deeper into the race. Tough one for the guys and the team.”
“These are always tough races,” Alex Job, team owner said. “When you have such a good outing and never go back to the garage area and then have a small part fail it is hard to take. The Porsche is a new car and they will get it fixed and ready for Sebring. David, Cooper, Leh, Gunnar and Shane all did a great job behind the wheel. The GTD class is going to be ultra-competitive all year. With an hour to go there were nine cars on the lead lap. It is going to be a very spirited season.”
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will travel to Sebring, Florida for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, March 16-19.