Wayne Taylor Racing took a dominant victory at the 58th running of the Daytona 24 Hours as distance records were smashed around the Daytona International Speedway.
In GTLM, BMW Team RLL took back-to-back victories for the M8 GTE as Jesse Krohn put in a mammoth final stint to fend off the combined might of the Porsche GT Team.
DAYTONA 24 HOURS | DPI PREVIEW | LMP2 PREVIEW | GTLM PREVIEW | GTD PREVIEW | CORVETTE C8.R TECH ANALYSIS | INTERVIEW NICK CATSBURG | INTERVIEW DENNIS OLSEN | INTERVIEW RENGER VAN DER ZANDE | PRE-RACE NOTEBOOK | RACE UPDATE 1: SATURDAY AFTERNOON | RACE UPDATE 2: SATURDAY NIGHT | RACE UPDATE 3: SUNDAY NIGHT | RACE UPDATE 4: SUNDAY MORNING | SATURDAY GALLERY | INTERVIEW KAMUI KOBAYASHI | INTERVIEW JESSE KROHN
The race broke two records for both the longest period without a caution – seven hours, 48 minutes and 23 seconds – as well as the most laps set with a final total of 833, 25 more than the previous record set two years ago.
0:00 hours to go | 833 laps complete | 13:40 local time
DPI | #10 KONICA MINOLTA CADILLAC DPi-V.R / KAMUI KOBAYASHI
A 60-second penalty appeared to have written the team’s chances of victory off, but spotless stints from Ryan Briscoe, Kamui Kobayashi, Scott Dixon and Renger van der Zande – as well as being at the right place at the right time during a caution period – allowed the Wayne Taylor Racing team to secure its third Rolex 24 victory in the last four years in the #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Running with a 20-second advantage as the race ticked down to three hours to go, Kobayashi picked through the traffic and drove every lap perfectly to extend his margin of victory to more than a minute as the car continued to display a ferocious turn of speed in the cold of the night and in the (slightly) warmer daylight hours.
Their dominance meant the #77 Mazda Team Joest RT24-P had to settle for second – 1m05sec off the victory – as Oliver Jarvis found himself unable to cut down on Kobayashi’s advantage. He did, however, claim the runner-up spot from erstwhile second-placed Mustang Sampling Racing.
The JDC-Miller Motorsport-run entry was leading after Briscoe was penalised for driving through a red light at pit exit, but the team’s Cadillac couldn’t maintain the same level of performance as WTR and slipped down the podium places to finish third – five seconds behind the Mazda and the last of the cars on the lead lap.
Fourth went to the #6 Team Penske Acura, as it recovered from being punted off the track on Saturday afternoon by the #55 Mazda of Harry Tincknell to claim vital points for its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship campaign.
LMP2 | #81 DRAGONSPEED USA ORECA 07 / BEN HANLEY
Ben Hanley cruised to victory in the DragonSpeed USA Oreca he shares with Henrik Hedman, Colin Braun and Harrison Newey as the team’s nearest competition faded on Sunday.
For a time, it appeared the #52 PR1 Mathiasen car was going to mount a serious challenge, but several minutes lost while the team was fixing a mechanical issue put it on the back foot. Pass arounds after full course cautions allowed it to regain some time, but the DragonSpeed crew was just too efficient as the race meandered on and the PR1 squad finished a lap down in second.
Rounding out the podium was the Era Motorsport team on its IMSA debut as Nicolas Minassian, Kyle Tilley, Ryan Lewis and Dwight Merriman recovered from losing a number of laps early in the race to block out Tower Motorsport by Starworks from getting the last step on the podium.
GTLM | #24 BMW TEAM RLL M8 GTE / JESSE KROHN
As is almost mandatory, the GTLM class – for GTE-spec cars – proved to be an absolute thriller until the very end as the battle for the lead was only settled in the last 20 minutes in the favour of Jesse Krohn, John Edwards, Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert in the #24 BMW M8 GTE.
Competing throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning with the two Porsche GT Team 991 RSRs, the lead swapped between the three cars throughout with Jesse Krohn taking the fight to both Nick Tandy in the #911 and Earl Bamber in the #912 as they ran nose-to-tail around the circuit, with the BMW having the advantage on the oval, and the Porsches going stronger on the more technical infield.
That led to a fascinating battle between the two manufacturers as Krohn closed in on his Stuttgart rivals on the oval, whilst clinging onto the 991’s coat-tails around the more technical sector.
In the final hour, Krohn was chasing down Tandy for the lead with the pair running side-by-side around Speedway turns three and four before the Finn finally got through into turn one as the Porsche driver went too deep in his defence.
All three made their final pitstops at roughly the 45 minutes to go mark, and a slick stop from the Rahal Letterman Lanigan crew allowed Krohn to slip out ahead. His victory was confirmed when Bamber passed Tandy going into turn one and the Brit once again ran too deep onto the run-off area. Bamber and Tandy then proceeded to scrap it out for second – which eventually went the way of Bamber – but that allowed Krohn to sneak off down the road and onto a victory of more than 12 seconds.
Corvette, whose #3 C8.R had been running at the front for most of the race, lost touch with the top three and finished fourth one lap down.
GTD | #48 PAUL MILLER RACING LAMBORGHINI HURACÁN GT3 EVO / ANDREA CALDARELLI
Much like the GTLM class, the GT Daytona battle started out frantic as mid-morning really took hold, only to calm down as the end of the 58th Daytona 24 Hours got closer.
The battle, while it was raging, was spectacular as Andrea Caldarelli in the #48 Paul Miller entry chased down fellow Lamborghini Huracán GT3 pilot Marco Mapelli in the #44 GRT Magnus Lambo. The pair were nose-to-tail for pretty much a solid hour as Mapelli brought out the widest Huracán the speedway has ever seen as he absorbed the pressure coming from his Blancpain GT Series co-champion.
It continued like that until roughly 48 minutes to go as the pair both lunged into the pits for a final service. Despite the GRT Magnus crew having a marginally faster stop, Caldarelli had the faster stint – going two-tenths a lap faster on average than his long-time rival to eventually win by 21.9sec alongside teammates Corey Lewis, Madison Snow and Bryan Sellers – all four running like clockwork throughout.
Rounding out the podium almost a minute behind was the WRT Speedstar Audi Sport R8 LMS as Mirko Bortolotti couldn’t match the two leaders in his final stint. He did, though, fight off Klaus Bachler in the #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 991.2 GT3R as the German wound up for a late push as the clock approached 13:40 Floridian time.
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