WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Gunnar Jeannette (Salt Lake City, Utah), Shane van Gisbergen (New Zealand), and Thomas Jaeger’s (Germany) race ended early, just a little more than 14 hours into the 55th IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Shortly after 4 a.m., MacNeil took the controls of the No. 50 WeatherTeach Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 from van Gisbergen on the GTD lead lap. But, two laps into his stint in tricky conditions, MacNeil hit the Turn Two wall causing significant damage to the front of the Mercedes. This forced MacNeil to take the car back to the garage for repairs. The Riley crew frantically worked on the car to get it race ready and back on track. Unfortunately, after two hours in the garage, the team determined that the No. 50 Mercedes was too damaged to continue – thus ending the team’s race in 21st place.
“It was slicker than ice on the race track,” MacNeil said. “Shortly before I got into the car, the race was under full course caution due to track conditions. On my out lap, I actually spun coming out of Turn Three doing 10 mph. I knew right then it was just like ice. A couple of laps later coming through Turn Two, I didn’t touch the curb or anything, I completely lost traction. The car went 40 degrees sideways. I corrected and saved the spin. But, we were sideways, locked up all the way to the wall and hit it. It’s just disappointing because we were running well and on the lead lap.”
Despite the team’s early exit from the Rolex 24, Jeannette was positive about the team’s overall race performance.
“Being able to move the car up from 24th to the lead in the first six hours of the race was awesome,” Jeannette said of the team’s performance. “Obviously, it’s disappointing to not finish. We had high hopes.
“The team and all of the drivers did a fantastic job. We just got caught out by the conditions, unfortunately. But, Cooper had great opening stints, going from 24th to 14th. I hopped in the car and was able to get it up into second place. Thomas raced up front too and Shane did a great job getting us into the lead.
“We know, even with the BoP areas we struggled with, that we have a strong race car. Maybe IMSA can see how much the BoP hurt us and correct it for Sebring. It’s great being part of the WeatherTech Racing, Riley Motorsports and Mercedes-AMG family.
The IMSA WeatherTech Sport Car Championship next heads to Sebring, Florida March 15-18 for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled By Fresh From Florida.
Source. Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing