Olly’s much hoped for success at the Rolex 24 at Daytona will have to wait for another 12 months, despite the concerted efforts of every driver and team member within the Leighton Reese Performance Group team. The No. 07 Banner Racing THECOOLTV/KWL Trucking/ EMC Camaro GT.R retired from the race with a little less than seven hours remaining due to transmission failure.
Despite a number of major mechanical setbacks and garage-bound delays taking them out of GT contention, Oliver had shown great pace behind the wheel of a car completely new to the team. Having only taken delivery of the Camaro from Pratt & Miller in December, there were precious few weeks to prepare for such a difficult and challenging event as the Daytona 24.
“It’s hard enough to get ready for the season when you’ve got a new car,” notes Olly, “but when the first race is a 24-hour one, that puts a lot of extra pressure on everything and everyone. The team did a great job to overcome some massive hurdles this weekend, making repairs to the car that would have defeated many others, and getting back out on track when it looked like we were done for the day. Hats off to them, and also to Gunther, Bruce and Eric for all their hard work and efforts in the race.”
Olly made an excellent start to the race, moving from 20th on the GT grid to as high as 5th before handing over to Bruce Ledoux. He, Gunther Schaldach and Eric Curran all cycled through the car, maintaining a steady pace. However, 4 hours and 45 minutes into the race the Banner Racing car was an innocent victim in a wreck between a BMW and Mazda and lost considerable time to change suspension and repair bodywork . In fact, the car returned to the track minus a left front wing and without part of its front fender.
After further venting issues, a broken propshaft and a damaged radiator had been addressed, Oliver and his fellow drivers started a slow but steady climb back up the time sheets with, as Olly notes, “the car handling the best it had been all race.” The final nail in the team’s Daytona coffin was, however, a seized driveshaft and team owner Leighton Reese called it a day. All efforts now will be directed towards round two of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Homestead on March 4-5.