Reigning Le Mans winner and FIA WEC LMP2 champion Habsburg and 2021 ELMS Pro-AM champion Andrade kicked off the 2022 race season at the ‘World Center of Racing’, sharing the #8 Tower Motorsport LMP2 car with LMP2 European Champion Louis Deletraz and Team Owner John Farano.
The 60th running of the iconic race put the 61-car grid to a challenge with unusually low temperatures and heavy rain in the practice sessions leading up to the race.
John Farano made a clean start from P8 and completed a solid double stint before passing the wheel to Rui two hours into the race. The 22-year-old Angolan who is running a double campaign this year racing in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup and FIA WEC made history by being the first from his home country to enter a race in the US, and he did not disappoint. The Sonangol supported driver had a flawless run, dealing with the insane traffic caused by the 61 cars in 5 different classes, and the extreme low temperatures like a real professional.
Ferdinand first hit the track seven hours into the race, taking over from Farano in sixth place and it didn’t take long for the 24-year-old Austrian to crawl through the field and following a dominant display, he grabbed the class lead. After a stellar triple-stint, the REMUS Sportexhaust sponsored driver passed the baton to Deletraz, and the Tower quartet controlled the race from that moment on. Until, disaster struck in the closing stages of the 24-Hour race. Just after boxing for a set of fresh tyres, the #8 Oreca picked up a puncture, forcing them to make an extra pit stop that threw them back into P3.
After that, it was all in or nothing for the duo of Habsburg and Deletraz who fought themselves back into the lead but it just was not meant to be for the Tower squad this time. With only 15 minutes on the clock, the chasing Dragonspeed car caught the #8 Tower Oreca, forcing them off the track that made them drop down to third place and that’s where they crossed the finish line.
Rui Andrade claimed his maiden podium in a 24H race on his Daytona debut, while Ferdinand grabbed his first trophy at the Rolex 24.
“It is a bitter pill to swallow. We gave our all, and already had our fingers on the winners trophy but it slipped away in the last few minutes. I am proud of our team, Rui, Louis and John and all the Tower guys did a fantastic job throughout the race, but we will fight another day. I have some unfinished business with Daytona and can’t wait to get back here next year.”
“It’s hard to find the words. I am disappointed because we came so close to the win, but unfortunately it is part of the game and there are still a lot of of positives to take away from my first Rolex 24. It’s been a fantastic experience and had a blast racing alongside Louis, John and Ferdinand. Tower Motorsport provided us with the perfect car and did an incredible job on the tactics and pit stops. I can’t wait to be back with them in Sebring to fight for the win we all deserve.”