DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Alex Job Racing drivers Bill Sweedler (Westport, Conn.), Townsend Bell (San Luis Obispo, Calif.), Frankie Montecalvo (Highlands, N.J.), and Pierre Kaffer (Germany) have the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 running seventh in the GTD class after six hours of the 55th IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Kaffer, who is an Audi factory driver, started 16th on the GTD grid to start today's twice around the clock race. It did not take him long to put the No. 23 Audi in the top 10 in class. In fact, he did it in just under an hour before turning the car over to teammate Sweedler on lap 26.
"I think my first stint was quite reasonable," Kaffer said. "My start was pretty good. Then, we had some miscommunication on the restart and we dropped a few spots. But, I had a lot of fun. I have to say the car running awesome and the Alex Job crew is doing a great job. I can always count on the Audi R8. It's a fantastic car."
Sweedler spent most of his first stint in running in the top 15. Near the end of his first stint, just seconds before the team had planned to pit, the race's second full course caution flew due to a wreck involving the No. 14 Porsche. Unfortunately, the No. 23 Audi was low on fuel and had to come into a closed pit lane for an emergency splash of fuel. This untimely caution ultimately cost the No. 23 Audi some valuable track position because the team had to pit the lap after all of the other GTD class cars made their pit stops under caution. Sweedler came in on lap 57 for fuel, tires and a driver change. This is when Bell got in the car.
"It's tough when we just don't have the straight line speed," Sweedler said of his first stint. "They're going by us left and right in the draft. We were very close to a great strategy move, but I just passed the pit when the Porsche wrecked. It would have been an equalizer for us. So, I'm a little upset I just couldn't get over [into pit lane]. But hey, it's 24 hours. It's a long race. A lot of stuff happens. We've been here before."
Bell's stint got off to an inauspicious start when there was some miscommunication between the crew and driver. Bell thought the team was ready for him to exit pit lane, but he didn't realize the car was still being fueled. This mistake led to an a drive through penalty, which put the No. 23 Audi one lap down. That said, Bell still put in a solid stint and near the lead lap.
"When I got in the car [in pit lane], I thought I was going to be launching," Bell said. "I made a mistake. My fueler was still plugged in. We spun the tires for a split second and got a drive through penalty. That was on me, totally. Luckily, we didn't lose a whole lot of time. Then, I got caught in that slow traffic. We're having a tough time getting by some of the slower cars. I finally did. But, I had to pass them on the outside of Turn One and the outside of Turn Three, which is really unconventional. It's still early. But, we've got to tighten things up. It's up to me to do a better job on the next stop."
Montecalvo started his stint 15th, one lap down to the GTD class leaders. By the time his stint ended, he moved up one spot to 14th and was back on the lead lap - thanks to a solid clean stint.
"The car is pretty good," Montecalvo said. "For some reason my belts got messed up on that driver change. I'm not sure if they were twisted or if the length was messed up really bad. The whole time I was out there I was really uncomfortable. I tried to get my belts back on top of my hans and get tightened. Every other lap, they kept falling off. I really struggled there. Hopefully, we can get that squared away on the next pit stop so I can be comfortable in the car and start getting more competitive times. I was just messing with that the whole time."
In 2013, Alex Job Racing won the GT class in an Audi with drivers Filipe Albuquerque, Oliver Jarvis, Edoardo Mortara, and Dion von Moltke. Albuquerque qualified that Audi sixth in GT.
Race fans can catch all of the door-to-door racing action FOX Sports 2 until 10 p.m. (ET) and then again from 11 p.m. (ET) to 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29. Race coverage will continues on FOX Sports 1 at 1 p.m. through the end of the race.
This season, race fans can following Alex Job Racing on Instagram @alexjobracing.
Alex Job Racing
Alex Job Racing is one of the most successful teams in sports car racing with 70 wins (since 1995); including two Rolex 24 GT Class wins in 1999 and 2013. This record is supported by 48 pole positions and 106 podium finishes. The team has won five championships (GTC 2013, 2012, GT in 2004, 2003 and 2002) complimented by their two GT class wins at Le Mans. The team also boasts ten Sebring 12-hour wins.
Audi of America
Audi began a new chapter in 2009 with the introduction of the Audi Sport customer racing program. For the first time, it was possible for motorsport customers to acquire a race car designed for the track. Since its inception, the success of the R8 LMS has been significant throughout GT3 racing series worldwide, with multiple victories in the Pirelli World Challenge since 2012. The all-new R8 LMS had strong endurance racing debuts, winning both the 2015 24 hours of Nürburgring and the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona, concluding the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech season with the Manufacturer's Championship in GTD. The Audi R8 LMS shares more than 50% of its parts with the Audi R8 street car including the naturally aspirated V10 5.2 liter engine, the Audi Space Frame and a variety of other components. Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands globally. The Audi Group delivered over 1,800,000 vehicles to customers globally in 2015, and broke all-time company sales records for the 6th straight year in the U.S. Visit audiusa.com, audiusa.com/newsroom or audiusa.com/motorsport for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.