Thursday, January 30, 2014
Fifth overall and first in the LMP2 division was a noteworthy performance from Alex Brundle on his first visit to the daunting Daytona 24 Hours.
“Coming in fifth at Daytona is not too bad,” remarked the King’s Lynn racer.
“We finished first of the P2 cars which I think, to be honest, was a realistic aim coming into the weekend.”
With the unification of the two sports car organisations in America for 2014, balancing the performance between the Daytona Prototypes and the LMP2’s was always going to be challenging and one which counted against the latter at the opening event of the season. Brundle’s team mate Lucas Luhr was philosophical.
He said: “The sanctioning body needs to work on the balance of performance. You can’t fight when you are 12mph slower than the other guys.”
Luhr was the nominated driver for qualifying and set the quickest time in the LMP2 division which bore out his post-race remarks as his time put the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Nissan powered ORECA 11th on the 67-car grid.
For the crack Pickett Racing team, a two-time championship winner in the America Le Mans Series, it was their first experience of Daytona and a 24 hour event and to finish fifth, with a new car, was a remarkable result.
“We are glad we got through it in one piece, it was very close to not happening a couple of times,” explained team owner Greg Pickett.
“We fell more than halfway down through the field and came back to place in the top five in this prestigious event.”
The team encountered a problem in the first hour of the race when Klaus Graf had to pit because of a right front puncture shortly after having completed his first pit stop of the race. The extra pit visit cost him a couple of laps to the leaders, laps that the team would never really have the chance of getting back throughout the following 23 hours.
However about 10 hours into the event, the Muscle Milk squad did make their way back onto the lead lap only to see it taken away due to a drive-through penalty they had to serve for a pit lane speeding violation. Despite a few issues throughout such as the penalty, slow punctures and a small cockpit fire, the team pushed on and persevered to the finish.
Father Martin, a former race winner, added: “Daytona 24, one of the toughest races, 13 hours of darkness, 67 cars in a 100-second lap. A great result for Alex.”