Daytona International Speedway, USA

HSR Classic Daytona 24 Hour
13 – 17 Nov 2019

Masters Endurance Legends drivers in the Classic 24 Hours groups C & D just experienced their first ‘full dark’ race session. In the very first minutes, the Riley & Scott DP MKII with Ross Thompson at the wheel lost drive and did not finish the session due to a broken rear axle. Masters driver Christophe D’Ansembourg drove flawlessly before handing over to Loic Demain who brought the car home third and keeps them in third place overall in cumulative results with two races to go.

RACE REPORTS

Group E Race 2
In a continuing light mist the Masters drivers in the very fast group E gave an excellent account of themselves. Joao Barbosa subbed in for David Porter and brought the Peugeot 908 home first. Jamie Constable brought his 2011 Pescarolo LMP in a strong third right behind the very fast Audi R8 LMP of Andy Wallace. Other Masters driver in an Audi R8 LMP, Travis Engen, pulled across the line in 7th and the final Masters Audi entry, the R8 LMS driven by Martin Lauber took 21st.

Craig Bennett had a lovely dice with Andy Wallace early but the car was unable to make it to the chequered flag due to a mechanical failure. A broken splitter befell the Werner/Mathai Aston Martin Vantage GT3 which retired during the opening laps.

Group F Race 2
A dry track and cool temperatures meant happy engines if not tyres as the Masters Endurance drivers in Group F went out to take another swing at Daytona glory. This strong field was dominated by numerous Pro driven Daytona Prototypes. Masters driver Robert Tornello shared his wheel to Danny Clos for race 2 and it paid off with the 3rd fastest lap and 5th place, just ahead of James Hagan in 6th. The Ligier of Dwight Merriman & Kyle Tilley was not far adrift, coming home 9th with laps several seconds faster than the next finisher. Mike Furness and Robin Ward pushed the beautiful Courage LC75 to 11th ahead of Marc Devis who was 15th. Devis ripped off a faster best lap than Furness in his Oreca-Judd but didn’t get up to speed as quickly as in the early laps. Rounding out the Masters drivers in F group were Martin Lauber in 22nd and Aaron Scott several laps down in 25th, the victim of a broken axle on the Oreca FLM09 of Keith Frieser.
Group C/D Race 3
Masters driver Christophe D’Ansembourg sat the race out in favour of Jonathan Kennard who took full advantage of his freshness to set fastest lap by a good margin and bringing the car home fifth. After 3 races and one to go, D’Ansembourg stands 3rd overall with a nine second advantage over 4th.
Group E Race 3
Stunning drive by David Porter in the Peugeot 908. From second on the grid he leaped into first at the green only to have the advantage blunted by a full course yellow on the second lap. After briefly slipping to third after pitting under yellow, he began a series of ever increasingly fast laps. Porter eventually set fastest race lap on lap 20 and finished second, a scant few seconds behind pro Andy Wallace. Right behind Porter with a solid 4th place drive was Jamie constable and Travis Engen took 6th to put three Masters drivers in the top six. Ray Evernham pushed the Audi R8 LMS hard to 15th spot and sadly the 007 Aston Martin Vantage retired for the second race in a row due to splitter damage. Driver Marco Werner complained of vibration so bad he couldn’t see properly.
Group F Race 3
The cold slick mist returned to the circuit just before dawn causing numerous yellow flags and generally causing headaches for all but the most experienced pilots. All the more impressive than for Masters Endurance Legends driver Robert Tornello who partnered with Danny Clos to snare a strong second place. Tactics played a role as multiple yellow periods had teams pulling different pit strategies trying not to get caught out.

The remaining Masters drivers finished as a fairly tight group with Mike Furness taking 15th less than two seconds from Chris Atkinson in 16th and a further seven seconds finding Martin Lauber in 17th. The last two Masters cars unfortunately didn’t make the chequered flag. The Ligier JS/P3 of Kyle Tilley had a lawn mowing expedition due to the greasy conditions and could not be extricated in time. Robert Blain came very slowly into the first yellow flag inspired pit stop and decided to park the car there and then due to the very difficult conditions.

Final Stint
It was all to play for with David Porter a scant 22 seconds adrift of the Andy Wallace/Doug Smith Audi. Porter tasked Joao Barbosa I n the Peugeot 908 with the challenge and Doug Smith settled in to defend their position.

The drag race to turn one had the Peugeot ahead but not clear, there was contact, the Peugeot 908 left rear with the Audi R8 LMP front right and it was all done for the Audi. Now Barbosa had to elude the hounds in the form of 2 Pescarolo LMPs not far behind.

For the other Masters Endurance Legends drivers, attrition was the word of the hour. Travis Engen’s normally flawless Audi R8 LMP lost part a critical rear downforce support causing the loss of the entire rear wing at 170 mph! Luck and experience allowed Travis to escape unscathed from this scary equipment failure. Jamie Constable in the 2011 Pescarolo LMP was also having a good run when he lost power due to a throttle cable problem which was misdiagnosed in the heat of the moment.

Overview highlights for Group E divisions were 1st in E1 for David Porter, 4th and 5th respectively in E1 for Jamie Constable and Travis Engen. In the E4 division, Dave Roberts/Ray Evernham and Martin Lauber took 3rd place with Charles Nearburg 4th.

Group F Race 4
The final group F race saw 3 Masters Endurance Legends drivers take to the track to chase results in the F division. This was down from 8 drivers who set out on the Classic 24 Hours. Compared with the level of calamity in the previous sessions, the final Group F race was positively serene.

Robert Tornello had fastest race lap and 7th spot in the Daytona Prototype which brought him to a third place finish in F2 class.

The James Hagan/Chris Atkinson Oreca FLM09 took 9th in race and 2nd overall in the F1 class. Mike Furness and Robin Ward took third in F1 even without participating in race 4 after a failure in the first lap.

Despite missing some of the races, David Methley took second place in his overall in F2 in his 2005 Chevrolet Corvette.