WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hindsdale, Ill.), Kevin Estre (France), Richard Lietz (Austria), and Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) are in the thick of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 At Daytona eight hours into the race.
It was a tough start for the team. Estre was hit in the rear by the No. 25 BMW as he came to the green flag at the start. He was able to keep going with damage to the front and rear bumper and splitter. Just eight minutes after the contact, the rear diffuser came off the car causing the races first yellow flag period. As the race restarted, Estre pitted and the Proton Competition crew replaced the front and rear splitters. Estre returned 14 laps down to the GTLM leader. At the eight-hour mark, the team has made up two laps and are in sixth place in GTLM.
“The start was not what we hoped for,” Estre said. “I was just waiting for the Corvette to go on power. I was waiting to go, before we even went on power the red BMW, with Spengler at the wheel, went full throttle and just hit me. He hit me while turning to the left. I hit the Ferrari, which broke the front splitter and the BMW broke the rear one. We stayed out and tried to survive. We came in and the team made the repairs. There was a lot of damage in the front, which made removing the old splitter difficult. The car is not as good as it was, but we will continue with the fight. This shouldn’t happen in GTLM with full factory drivers.”
MacNeil took over the car from Estre just before the two-hour mark of the race.
“I just wanted to feel the car out and it was a bit tricky,” MacNeil said. “It obviously sustained a lot of damage with that hit at the start. We went down a lot of laps before the race even started, which is absolutely ridiculous considering how long the race is. It’s pretty frustrating. The Proton guys worked hard to get it fixed. We replaced a lot of parts on it that we weren’t expecting. The WeatherTech Porsche is running strong now and it’s a long way to go. We are just going to keep our heads down, work with the yellows that are eminent and hopefully get to the checker.”
Lietz followed MacNeil. “The stint was okay,” he said. “I think we have similar pace to the [GTLM] leader. The car is not so easy to drive. We have a bit of an oversteer on entry and an understeer on exit. The car has some damage. We’re still in the game. We’re trying our best to finish with the highest spot for WeatherTech Racing.”
Source. Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing