Throughout the year, Continental Tire will focus on celebrating the fans, media, drivers, and teams and their contributions to sports car racing, including a weekly trip down memory lane in Sportscar365’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections series.
Christian Fittipaldi added a third Rolex 24 at Daytona victory this January with Action Express Racing to his sports car racing resume. This week, Fittipaldi reflects on his second Rolex 24 title and first AXR which came in a near-perfect race in 2014.
What memories do you have of winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2014 on Continental Tires?
“It was cool because if you picture one of those perfect races, that’s exactly what we had in 2014.
“We were very well prepared and put a lot of miles on the car in testing, I have to admit probably more than the rest that were competing against us.
“I think it paid dividends when it came down to the race. We never had any mechanical problems and were fine all the way to the end.
“We controlled a good part of the race and when we were not controlling, I don’t think we ever dropped below third place. It was good.
“It was one of those less hectic races because there wasn’t any rain or fog. Everything was fine. In that situation, with no rain or fog, it becomes less of a hard race.
“The outstanding thing about it was that it was almost a perfect race. It wasn’t one of those dramatic races where you had a problem, fell two or three laps down, and came back.”
How rare is it to have a perfect race in a 24 hour event?
“Doing that in a 24 hour race is pretty rare because you’re dealing with so many variations inside the car and outside of the car. People can run into, there’s mechanical problems, all that stuff.
“It’s very rare. If you stop to think about it you think: am I ever going to have another one like this? It might never happen again because there’s usually some drama here or there.
“You have to take it. What Gary [Nelson] always says, and I have to admit that I learned it from him, is expect to win.
“Not that you’re being cocky or anything like that, it’s just that you need to be ready to win all the time.
“Sometimes a situation falls into your lap and you need to be able to capitalize on it, and I guess we were ready for that.”
What does it say about the Continental Tires that you were able to have a flawless race?
“We never had a problem. One thing I can say about Conti that has always worked very good is the consistency. In my oppinion it’s very, very impressive.
“In general, I think that talking about consistency in lap times, Continental has always impressed me as a driver.”