Goossens – An Eventful Fourth At Daytona
Joost Custers kept in touch with Marc Goossens during the Belgian driver’s maiden Rolex 24 meeting, by ‘phone from Belgium. Here’s what Marc had to say…

“Unfortunately, the team was 30 minutes late informing the race organisers that Didier (Theys) would be setting the qualifying time, so we were excluded from the first session, which counted for the first 30 places on the grid. That wasn’t too serious before a 24 hour race, and of course Didier set the fastest time on Friday, so we started in 31st place on the grid.

“The Doran was very smooth to drive and we were all confident before the race. Perhaps it wasn’t quite what we wanted when people told us that we were the favourites to win….“It didn’t take Didier long to make up places at the start. By lap 8 he was in twelfth place, just 30 seconds behind the leader, so the penalty of starting well back wasn’t too much of a penalty at all. Then there was a yellow flag anyway, so we were even closer to the leading car (the Bell Motorsports Doran) at 20 laps, when we were in eighth. Didier was one of the fastest cars on the track at that point.

“I took over in the third hour, by which time it was raining quite heavily. I saw a Porsche ahead of me go straight on at the chicane, but he didn’t stop: he slithered onto the grass and attacked me. The front of our Doran was wedged under the Porsche, and we had front end and radiator damage, which cost us nine laps. I don’t know which Porsche it was, because I was primarily focused on the damage to our car…“After that incident, a top ten at the end was our target: we didn’t really think we could do better than about tenth or so.

“The only real problem we had was with the windscreen wiper, or rather the lack of one; we had to come in every 10 laps to clean the windscreen, which was a huge disadvantage, and maybe the reason why we couldn’t make up the little gap to the Porsches towards the end of the race.”

“We pushed very hard at the end, but those two cars were just out of reach, so we had to settle for fourth overall, second in class. But after the problem we had in the third hour, that was a huge achievement – especially bearing in mind the conditions. With an hour to go we didn’t think we’d make the top five.

“I felt very positive about the car and the whole team. They all did a great job and clearly they have lots of experience at Daytona. For instance changing the engine before the race was a good option. The car didn’t show any significant problems, and the engine and gearbox were just perfect. The only disadvantage was a slight lack of power in accelerating, certainly compared to the Chevy-powered cars.

“I’m also very surprised by the Grand-Am concept. The field has grown, the cars are nice to drive and the level is very competitive. I hope to return to Grand-Am at some time this year, for the Doran team.”


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