DragonSpeed team principal Elton Julian says the overnight rebuild of its Oreca 07 Gibson around a new tub showed the the team’s “ability to come back from anything” as they target a come-from-behind victory in the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The LMP2 contender returned to the track Friday morning following Loic Duval’s accident on Thursday morning, which damaged the tub on the new-for-2017 prototype.
Julian said his Florida-based crew worked until 3:30 a.m. Friday morning building the car up around its brand-new spare tub, which it had on-site.
They received special dispensation from Daytona International Speedway to work through the night in the garage, which closed at 10 p.m. for all other competitors.
The crew returned to the track at 7 a.m. for final practice, where Nico Lapierre put the Evel Knievel-liveried machine on the top of the time sheets, before eventually settling for second quickest with a 1:37.922 lap time.
“It’s a brand-new car,” Julian told Sportscar365. “We built an entire car overnight. It went out, we did our install, scuffed some tires and boom.”
Julian credited his tight-knit team, a race-winning operation in the European Le Mans Series, for the overnight heroics in getting the car back on track and in the fight for overall race honors.
“I’m proud of my team,” he said. “Once again we showed depth and strength in other ways.
“My job is to position my team to be the best team here and I feel that slowly we’re becoming the best team here.
“Stuff like that proves that we have the ability to come back from anything.”
Driver Henrik Hedman, who is set for his Rolex 24 debut, was equally impressed by the team’s effort.
“I talked to the guys yesterday, before they started when we needed to get the approval from IMSA to do it. They were all so pumped,” Hedman told Sportscar365.
“To be able to do it is fantastic. It’s great for the team going forward towards this season. They know what they can do and they can do and they can walk with their heads really high.”
Duval, Lapierre, Hedman and Ben Hanley will roll off from 17th overall on the grid, in one of the pre-race favorite entries.
“I think if you can finish this race, you’re going to be in contention,” Hedman added. “All the cars are new and it’s the first race for all the cars here.
“You just have to be there towards the end. If we can manage to do that, we’ll see.”