Team recovered from early race incident
Daytona Beach, Fla. (Jan. 31, 2021) - WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hindsdale, Ill.), Kevin Estre (France), Richard Lietz (Austria), and Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) finished the 59th running of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 At Daytona sixth in GTLM.
The story of the race was written 100-yards before the green flag at the start of the race. Estre had the wheel of the No. 79 WeatherTech Porsche RSR and was anticipating the start when he was hit in the rear by the No. 25 BMW. The contact sent him into the side of the Risi Ferrari causing near equal damage to the front and rear of the red-white-and-blue Porsche. The Proton Competition crew had to bring him to pit lane and replace both front and rear bumpers, as well as the splitters. When the Frenchman finally returned to the track, he was 14 laps down. The drivers and team soldiered on to finish the race in sixth making up four of those 14 laps.
“It was really the worst-case scenario for a 24-hour race,” MacNeil said. “You have a problem early in the race, get it fixed, go several laps down, and then everything goes really well, but you’re out of it. It just makes the clock slow down and turns the event into a real grind. On the positive side, I really like driving the RSR and working with Proton Competition. We will lick our wounds and start looking forward to Sebring.”
“The car was not like it was for Thursday and Friday practice,” Bruni said. “It is evident we have some issues with the car. We had a good package. But unfortunately, everything went away just before the start. That’s racing. But, it’s a shame some of our competitors should not race like this in a 24-hour race.”
The next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to run March 17-20.