Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GT's First Rolex Win since '77; Porsche from Slower Class Has Nine-Lap Victory

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GT's First Rolex Win since '77; Porsche from Slower Class Has Nine-Lap Victory

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble, Times-Union sports writer

DAYTONA BEACH -- Sports cars from the Daytona Prototype and GT Super classifications had faster engines and sleeker body styles in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

But a four-man team in the slower GT class walked away with the wristwatches, the spoils that go to the victors of the most grueling sports car race in North America.

The Racers Group Porsche GT3 RS of Kevin Buckler, Michael Schrom, Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister traded the speed associated with bigger, more powerful engines for the proven reliability of the smaller, race-proven Porsche engine.

They parlayed reliability into a nine-lap victory on the 3.54-mile road course -- the biggest win in the twice-around-the-clock race at the Daytona International Speedway since a Nissan 300ZX, another car from one of the lower divisions, won by 24 laps in 1994.

"We kept our mouths shut and our heads down," Buckler said. "We had a little battle [Saturday] night with one of the [Brumos] Daytona Prototypes, where we were 30 seconds apart from each other. We were biting our nails the whole time."

There have been sports car upsets at Daytona in the past, including two other wins by lower-class cars in the last three marathons. But yesterday's victory was the first for the GT class, the third of four Grand American Road Racing Association divisions, since 1977. Compared to college football, it was like Slippery Rock beating Ohio State for the national championship.

Equally important was the fact GT cars also finished second, third and sixth.

"There were a lot of good GT teams," Buckler said. "We knew we had a tiny chance, but the guys did what they always do. As the race stretched on, we just stayed consistent and didn't make any mistakes. The little Porsche was perfect."

Porsche now has powered 20 winning cars at Daytona.

It wasn't the fastest car in the race -- it started 16th -- but it was the only one that didn't have to make any unscheduled repairs in the 45-car race. The team completed 695 laps -- 2,474.2 miles or roughly the distance between Daytona Beach and San Francisco. …

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