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Pole winner Tom Blomqvist, who led the first two hours going away in his Acura ARX-06, was untouchable in the final two hours for Meyer Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian.
Wayne Taylor Racing’s Acura ARX-06 with Andretti Autosport driven by Felipe Albuquerque, Ricky Taylor, Louis Deletraz and Brandon Hartley. Albuquerque was in second place by 4.191 seconds.
Heart of Racing’s Aston Martin Vantage finished ahead of all Pro cars and top of the 33 GT3 specification cars.
The Rolex 24 at Daytona which marked the start of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season and the launch of the new GTP era of hybrid prototypes ended as it began. Pole winner Tom Blomqvist, who led the first two hours going away in his Acura ARX-06, was untouchable for the final two hours.
“I was confident I had an advantage over the Cadillacs,” Blomqvist said, “I knew (the Cadillac drivers) were nervous, because they had the second fastest cars on the track.”
Meyer Shank Racing’s Curb Agajanian won its second consecutive Rolex 24, where the aggressive pace of Blomqvist’s new co-driver in the WeatherTech championship, Colin Braun, helped the team battle for second place.
Neither the bookings that grouped the field – there were 14 of them – nor the restarts allowed the Cadillacs to match the almost flawless run of the winning Acura, where Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves, who won a third consecutive Rolex, were the co-drivers of the endurance race. Apart from Castroneves spinning in turn 1 which blew flat tires and stopped on pit road to add oil to the gearbox and flush the engine oil system, the Acura ran smoothly.
“Our car had a gearbox problem all night,” said ever-aggressive team owner Michael Shank. “We just decided to run it until it blew up.” The leaking seals made it to the finish line.
The race for second place was won by Wayne Taylor Racing’s Acura of Andretti Autosport driven by Felipe Albuquerque, Ricky Taylor, Louis Deletraz and Brandon Hartley. Albuquerque was 4.191 seconds behind the checkers despite four bookings and restarts won in the final two hours.
The Taylor team regained the lead lap with two hours to go after a trip to the garage overnight to attempt to fix an oil filler hose, which made flushing the oil system difficult during the race. Both Acura teams needed to flush their oil systems due to the new biofuel mandated by IMSA this year, which enters the internal combustion engine’s oil system and is hard on the bearings.
Cadillacs No. The 01 and 02 ran the race without problems, but didn’t have the pace to match the Acuras in the fleet. The Action Express Cadillac spent 25 minutes in the garage changing its rear suspension following a collision with a GTD car.
Both Penske Porsche Motorsports entries (battery pack and shifter) and one BMW RLL Racing entry (battery pack) have had long stays in the garage. The number 24 of BMW, the latest manufacturer to begin development of its new GTPs, did not keep pace in traffic and finished five laps down, including a brief pit stop to change the brake pads. The sister BMW was the only one of the nine GTPs not to race to the finish line.
Porsche also battled for the lead alongside Cadillac throughout the race before its technical problems intervened. “The Acura was a ticking faster,” said Urs Kuratle, manager of Porsche’s GTP program. “It could have been an interesting ending.”
The thrill of racing under the checkered flag was left to LMP2 drivers James Allen and Ben Hanley. Allen’s Proton Competition ORECA trailed leader Hanley on the final traverse into Turn 1 and entered the turn into Turn 6 in second place. But after the final drive through the Le Mans chicane, Allen pulled alongside and won at the start/finish by inches.
Allen said he was held up by the AF Corse runner-up in the final hour before setting his sights on Hanley. “I could see on the penultimate lap that I was having a good run at the start/finish,” he said. Allen elected to save his move for the final run. “I walked out of the bus stop and asked myself, ‘Did I do it well enough?’ I’ve never had anything like it (finish) and I’m not sure I’ll ever have anything like it again.
The thrills began for the Proton team after a heavy crash in Thursday practice forced them to rebuild the car, changing all four suspension corners and fitting new bodywork. The top four in LMP2 finished on the same lap within 13 seconds of each other, including TDS Racing and AF Corse.
After a nearly flawless run, the winning crew of AWA’s LMP3 finished 12 laps ahead of the pole-winning car of Sean Creech Motorsport. The winning team made an unscheduled stop to replace an endplate on the rear wing and had a vibrating tire which required an extra stop. Pre-race favorite Riley Motorsports was the first retirement in the class with a blown engine.
The GTD Pro entries may have all finished behind Heart of Racing’s GTD winner Aston Martin, but the battle between WeatherTech Racing’s Mercedes-AMG GT3, Corvette Racing and Vasser Sullivan’s Lexus RC F GT3 was furious. Several dogfights between these three developed during the yellow flag fest resulting in four restarts in the final two hours, but it was Mercedes and its general poise through the infield and onto the banks that clinched victory in the hands of the championship winner. pole class Maro Angelo.
“It’s crazy,” Engel said. “It’s not what you want to see when you’re racing up front. You’re praying for no yellow.
The new Ferrari 296 GT3, Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 and Porsche 911 GT3 R all suffered from insufficient straight-line speed due to the air restrictors assigned to the new aluminum and carbon-fibre technology specimens. IMSA’s picks for Balance of Performance clearly expect these cars to pick up speed as the season progresses thanks to better weight distribution and a wider performance window.
“When you pass (the Mercedes-AMG) and they come right back, yeah, it’s frustrating,” said Romain Grosjean, who co-drew the Iron Lynx Huracan. He finished fourth in GTD Pro and 10th overall just ahead of Pfaff Motorsports’ Pro-class Porsche, defending class champion. Ferrari’s Pro entry Risi Competizione retired after a collision with a GTD car broke the floor of his 296 GT3.
The theme of qualifying in GTD carried over to the race, except it was the Heart of Racing’s Aston Martin Vantage that finished ahead of all the Pro cars and on top of the 33 GT3 spec cars instead of the three Mercedes- AMG entries that took the top three places from the pros in time trials.
The quartet of riders, including last year’s class champion Romain de Angelis, ran flawlessly from start to finish. Platinum driver Marco Sorensen ran the final stint holding the Aston Martin HoR ahead of a combined 33-car GTD. He looked back on the heated three-way battle between the Pro cars, which gave him a cushion against Aston Martin Magnus Racing, who finished second in the class. “We had the Pro cars behind us at the finish line,” said Sorensen. “I knew I just had to stay ahead of them to get the win.”
Niki Thiim managed to move one place behind Sorensen in his Magnus Vantage, passing the Corvette C8.R and Lexus RC F GT3 battling for the Pro win. But he fell short, finishing behind the Mercedes-AMG of the Pro winner Engel.
“I think that’s icing on the cake,” said team principal Ian James when asked to finish ahead of all GTD Pro entrants. “It’s not the most important thing.”