Tommy Erdos’s 2005 Rolex 24

dailysportscar.comThe UK-domiciled Brazilian had an interesting Rolex 24, in the Synergy Doran BMW. This is the car that ran as the G&W Doran BMW last year, with Brent Martini and Cort Wagner at the wheel. Tommy Erdos and Mike Newton raced the Michael Shank Doran Lexus in the 2004 Rolex 24 (the Burt Frisselle and Oswaldo Negri car for the bulk of last season), this chassis now running as the #77 car for Bobbi and Gollin.

”For me, the best part of the race occurred at around 8am. I was running in convoy with Emmanuel Collard in the SunTrust Riley, Butch Leitzinger in the #4 Crawford, Johansson in the #02 Ganassi Riley and Bryan Herta in the red Doran.

“The cameras were following us, we’d caught Collard up, I passed Herta – the race was going really well at that point, although it didn’t last too much longer.

“We’d found that the best way to use the tyres on the #8 Doran was to put the harder compound on the right and the softer on the left. We’d tried the soft compound on the right much earlier in the race, but they went off very quickly. Perhaps that was the inconsistency that some drivers talked about?

“We used soft tyres on the left whenever we could, but we only had nine sets for the whole meeting, so we had to use hard tyres all round sometimes.

“Personally I’d done very little running on Thursday: perhaps three or four laps in daylight, and a handful at night. Burt Frisselle was down to qualify our Synergy Doran BMW, so he got in more laps than his brother, myself or Mike Newton.

“I’d set a 1:49.7 on used tyres, on full tanks, so we had some good pace, but Burt encountered traffic in qualifying, and we didn’t start terribly high up on the grid. That doesn’t matter at all in a 24 hour race though.

“Having not got in too many laps on Thursday, I managed about three on Friday.

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“We ran the same engine throughout the meeting: some teams changed engines for the race – or sooner than that – but our BMW behaved faultlessly. The only scare we had was to do with the alternator – but that happened just before the race. It was spiking, which was a worry, so the Synergy crew changed it, a job they completed just before the start. The replacement gave no problems at all in the race, so that was obviously a good move.

“Burt started the race, and the rotation was Brian Frisselle, myself and Mike Newton.

“A new feature for me was to have the brothers’ father up on top of the grandstands, as our spotter. This was an entirely new experience, but one that I came to appreciate more and more. Brad is a very experienced racer himself, so he knew exactly what to look for.

“He was particularly helpful while I was driving – thanks to our electric mirrors. They didn’t work. With me being the shortest driver, I was the one who needed the mirrors adjusting – but we were losing too much time having a mechanic adjust them when I got in the car, then adjust them back when I got out - so we left them alone. I simply relied on Brad, up on the stand, to let me know if anyone was trying to pass me.

“He could also tell me who it was, in which car. But there was another big advantage to having Brad up there. If he felt we had done a double overtaking move or managed to snick past just at the right moment, to avoid losing too much time, he offered encouragement and praise, which was great to hear over the radio.

“Our first delay was before a quarter of the race had elapsed, dropping us to something like 42nd place. I was in the motorhome at the time, but I was told it was to do with the CV boots or the driveshafts. We recovered places, but had a bit of a problem with brake pads breaking up, and I think Brian had a bit of contact with someone, which cost us some time..

“My first stint was almost a double stint: I had a yellow, so they brought me in, refuelled the car and I stayed in, on fresh tyres. At that point we were on hard tyres all round, but when it got dark we realised that the soft tyres weren’t lasting, so we went for hard tyres on the outside.

“My second stint was almost a double too, in the dark, with a yellow in there again.

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“The good thing about the tyres is that we weren’t getting any punctures, although I believe a couple of cars did have them.

“Mike Newton had one of his best races ever, from a personal point of view: he was lapping in the 1:53s, which is a good pace.

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“Our second problem came late in the night, at the beginning of my third period in the car. A circlip popped out in the gearbox. That gave me an interesting time in Turn 1 – with no gears. I pulled the lever back for each gear and there was nothing there, until I finally got down to second. I just about kept it off the grass and edged round Turn 1.

“I had to get it back to the pits, but in third gear, there was an awful noise, and the same in fourth – but I got it back to the garage, where the team replaced the whole gear cluster. I went back out again to get through my double stint – which is when I was racing with Collard and company.

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“Everything was going well at that point, I came in and refulelled, took on new rubber, but 20 to 30 minutes into the second part of that double stint, coming out of the Bus Stop, the drive just disappeared. I had enough momentum to get back to the pits, where they diagnosed that the diff. had packed up – and that was the end of our race.

“With us running so competitively at the time, it was disappointing for us drivers, but not as much as if we were running at the front. It was desperately disappointing for all the team though – they’re a really good bunch.

“Price Cobb was excellent at our briefings: he’s a Le Mans winner of course, a really nice guy, and he really understands what these races are all about. Our race engineer, Gary Grossenbacher, has won the Rolex 24 in the past, so although the Synergy name is all new, it’s got a lot of experience behind it.”

 

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