Tommy Erdos’s 2005 Rolex 24
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
”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.
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.
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.
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.
not got in too many laps on Thursday, I managed about three on Friday.
“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.
stint was almost a double too, in the dark, with a yellow in there
“The good thing
about the tyres is that we weren’t getting any punctures,
although I believe a couple of cars did have them.
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.
“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
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.
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
“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
“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.”