Zach Robichon takes stock of his 24 Hours of Daytona … and the emotions he experienced!

Wednesday February 3, 2021 by Eliane Gilain

For the third time in a row, the Canadian team Pfaff Motorsports competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona, the inaugural round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar series, in the GTD class. And for the third time in a row, these 24 Hours were difficult for the team and its drivers, who nevertheless displayed great speed. This time around, a lot of problems hit the crew made up of Canadian Zacharie Robichon, German Lars Kern, Belgian Laurens Vanthoor and Australian Matt Campbell.

However, for the team based in the Toronto area and entering a Porsche 911 GT3 R throughout the 2021 season, the points scored are still valuable. Scoring points was also the primary goal of the Pfaff team, which has in its sights the 2021 GTD class title. Ranked Top 5 in the first hour, the Porsche of Robichon and his teammates finally finished 12th. They find themselves in 11th position in the championship, with an asset of 32 points, mainly acquired during the qualifying race of the Sunday preceding the event and which gave bonus points … Zach Robichon discussed with us his 24 Hours of Daytona and took stock of the experience in this exclusive interview.

Zach, you told us in a previous interview on that the goal this season is to win the GTD title. How did this goal affect your run in Daytona last weekend?

“At the start of the 24 Hours, our plan was to be conservative and minimize the risks. On the other hand, the aggressiveness of pilots of all classes surprised us. By being careful, we put ourselves in almost worse situations given the aggressive driving of some. ”

What do you mean; Was it really hard at the start of the race?

“Yes and it created contacts that weren’t our fault. In particular, someone hit the back of our car, which broke the diffuser. From memory, we were then around the 3rd hour of the race. In the 6th hour, an LMP2 cut us off and there was contact, which broke our front bumper, causing us to lose aerodynamics. We were therefore missing about 5 km / h in top speed on the long section near the start / finish, on the oval. After the first third of the race, we had finally lost a lot of momentum and we had to work hard to keep the pace. The car was particularly difficult to drive in the chicane, the ‘Bus Stop’. ”

Night is always critical in a 24 hour race. In the case of your team, it was notably marked with a penalty. What happened ?

“We had an incident in the wells. Lars hit an LMP3 on his way out of our space because there was a lack of communication with the rest of the team. So we got a pit penalty, but what really hurt us was that the steering wheel was crooked (at 15 degrees) after impact. We were still able to have a good pace, but the degradation of the tires was very high so we lost a lot of time during our stints. We drove the car 6-7 hours as well. ”

At daybreak, you were still able to move into the Top 5. Was a podium possible?

“We were waltzing between 5th and 6th position two-thirds of the way through, but we weren’t able to fight with the leaders. They had very good cars. On the other hand, we still thought we had a chance for 4th position, maybe even third. ”

Very little information has circulated as to the nature of the problem that caused you to lose your chance at the podium. What happened so that you finished 12th in the GTDs, several laps behind?

“At 10 am, the team made the decision to do some repairs on the car to see if we could regain a good speed, just to have a chance to finish in the Top 5. But when I got behind the wheel, I made a mistake in turn 6. You have to understand that the last time I drove, we still had the problem with the crooked steering wheel, so I had adapted my driving to correct the oversteer that it created. But with the repairs, we now had a lot of understeer, which I had not anticipated. It got me in the gravel, then I got on the oval and hit the wall, which broke the rear axle. It wasn’t a big impact as the roster remained intact. It was still the worst time of my life, I felt bad! The team was able to fix the car quickly and we got back on track. We even regained two positions at the end of the race to finish twelfth. ”

The 24 Hours with so many emotions lead you to draw up what conclusions?

“This race has not been our friend for the past three years! Everyone made little mistakes, but mine was definitely the worst. Because even with all the other small mistakes, we could have made a Top 5. That said, it also shows the maturity of our team: we face problems, and we get back on our feet. The next race is the 12 Hours of Sebring and it’s a track that I love. I’ve done it a lot in the Porsche GT3 Cup, but this will be our second participation in the 12 Hours with Pfaff Motorsports. However, I think we have a good chance of finishing at the top of the table. ”

For the full results of the 2021 24 Hours of Daytona, click here.

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