Shipping delays forced a late start to Racing Team Nederland’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut at the Roar Before the Rolex 24, with the team’s Oreca 07 Gibson only arriving at the track during Friday’s opening session.
The TDS Racing-run operation, however, managed to unload the LMP2 chassis, go through safety checks and get on track, only to post the quickest time in class in the second and final session of the day.
“It was a late decision straight after the last round of the WEC to do Daytona with an eye on what we plan to do next year,” said team manager Mark Koense. “The team did a fantastic job of organizing all that at the last minute.
“Everything was shipped out in time, but we lost time at sea. About a week ago, we started to get messages that they were losing time at sea and there was a problem at the port in New York.”
Despite the travel disruptions, the car was still slated to reach Daytona on Thursday night – leaving enough time to have it ready for the first session Friday. Alas, the truck carrying the shipment from the port was delayed once more.
“So, things went from rather worrying to impossible because the car arrived during the first session,” Koense said.
“The team again has done a fantastic job, too, because everything is in there, it’s almost together. Little bit of a false start but we’re happy to be here and we’ve had a great reception from IMSA. Everybody has been very helpful.”
Geido van der Garde topped the time sheets on Friday with a 1:37.991 lap time in the car he will share with Job Van Uitert, Charles Milsei and team boss Frits van Eerd.
“The rest of the week can only go better,” Koense added. “You know when you enter any motor race, it’s not going to go as you planned. But obviously to not have any car is way off your plan. But again, you have to learn to deal with that.
“We’re happy to be here with the world being what it is. It’s a privilege to be here together with all the other competitors.
“We also have an eye on the future, so for us it’s a great way to prepare for the world championship and a great way to do our first IMSA race and to see what we can do in the future. And it’s a great event, let’s face it.”