Tough Start, Strong Finish At The Rolex 24

January 28, 2013

On Sunday afternoon after 24 hours of hard-fought wheel-to-wheel racing, Patrick Long and Mike Skeen crossed the finish line together at the 51st Rolex 24 At Daytona. Long was behind the wheel of the Park Place Motorsports No. 73 Racing4Research Porsche GT, and Skeen was piloting the No. 72 Vess Energy Services Porsche GT3. After 24 grueling hours, they placed 16th and 14th respectively.

In the very first hour of the traditional twice-around-the-clock endurance marathon, both Park Place Motorsports Porsches experienced right-front wheel issues that immediately snatched them from the lead lap. Both Long, in the No. 73 Porsche, and starting driver Jean-Francois Dumoulin in the No. 72 Porsche, were the victims of what turned out to be wheel nut problems after both feared their right-front tires were going down. Long lost just one lap, but Dumoulin had to spend seven laps in the pits loosening a wheel nut that had seized up.

The No. 73 Porsche, that Long shared with Spencer Pumpelly, Patrick Lindsey, Jason Hart and Daniel Graeff, lost another lap when it had to serve a hefty penalty on pit road for engaging in a wave-around without being instructed to during the second hour.

After serving its penalty, the No. 73 Porsche was beginning to work its way back towards the lead lap when it was rear-ended by a wayward Daytona Prototype competitor late Saturday night during the race’s ninth hour. Replacing the right-rear suspension pieces after the crash cost the team another 19 laps.

The No. 72 Porsche, which Dumoulin and Skeen shared with Mike Vess, Chuck Cole, Grant Phipps, employed a conservative strategy in making its way to the finish and encountered nary a problem on or off the track until a lengthy pit stop to repair the front splitter kept it in pit lane for an extended period some four hours from the finish.

Those typically daunting setbacks were not enough to deter either team. After 24 hours of racing, the No. 73 car finished the race having completed completed 653 laps, and the No. 72 car completed 657 laps.

After the race, Long said:

“This team never gave up. For Park Place to have two cars come across the finish line in its first attempt, I think it’s going to become a household name in motorsports. It wasn’t the best possible debut, but I think a lot of people are going to know about Park Place, here, very soon.”