A full course caution for a fire in a Vasser Sullivan Lexus set up a 30-minute duel between the #31 Cadillac and the two Penske Porsches for the Rolex 24 win.
–by Mark Cipolloni–
The #31 Cadillac with Tom Blomqvist came into the pits in the lead, but the #7 Penske Porsche driven by Felipe Nasr beat him off pit road to lead under the final caution.
The green dropped with 30 minutes left to run, and the battle was on between the Cadillac, the #7 and #6 Penske Porsches and the #40 Acura with Louis Deletraz at the wheel.
Blomqvist stalked Nasr lap after lap, trying to see if he could find a way past Nasr’s Porsche, but try as he might, the former F1 driver Nasr had enough hold off the Cadillac by 2-seconds. The former F1 driver schooling the IndyCar driver.
The Brazilian shared top honors with Dane Cameron, Matt Campbell and reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden.
The win was Porsche’s first GTP win since returning to the top class, and it was the 19th win for Porsche in the Rolex 24 and the first since 1969.
The sprint finish in the final hour was set up after the #12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 suffered an engine bay fire caused by a “bag under the hood” at pit-out with 41 minutes to go.
Parker Thompson, running fifth in GTD at the time, was forced to put the flames out himself with an extinguisher handed to him by a Marshal.
The No. 40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06 of Louis Deletraz, Jordan Taylor, Jenson Button and Colton Herta completed the overall podium in third, bouncing back from a stoppage for Deletraz just before halfway in the race that put the car one lap down at the time.
The result came despite a clash between Deletraz and the No. 6 Penske Porsche of Mathieu Jaminet on the restart that forced the Frenchman wide, with no further action from IMSA race control.
Jaminet recovered to finish fourth, with the No. 5 Proton Competition Porsche of Gianmaria Bruni coming home fifth. Bruni came back from an off-course excursion while attempting to catch up to the pack while on the lap prior to the restart.
The victory came in somewhat controversial fashion though, after a confusing sequence at the end which saw the checkered flag waved with over a minute remaining on the clock, with TV graphics showing two laps remaining. Clearly, IMSA wanted to ensure the Penske Porsche won in case they had an issue on the final lap.
Era Motorsport held off CrowdStrike Racing by APR in the closing stages to take the LMP2 class victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona for the second time in the team’s history.
After an almighty battle in the closing laps, the #74 Riley ORECA took third, after a multi-way battle with the #52 Inter Europol PR1 and #8 Tower 07 Gibsons.
Ferrari scored a victory in the GTD Pro class of the Rolex 24 at Daytona as the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3 came out on top in a race of attrition.
Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Daniel Serra and Davide Rigon took top honors by a lap ahead of the No. 77 AO Racing Porsche 911 GT3R
Risi’s run to the flag, scoring its first GTD class win at Daytona, was faultless. The drivers didn’t put a foot wrong all race and benefitted from their rivals hitting trouble around them.
The #1 Paul Miller BMW took a distant third after late drama with the front-right hub that caused a significant delay and dropped the M4 GT3 off the lead lap.
Both Corvettes from Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports completed the full 24 hours with the No. 3 of Antonio Garcia, Alexander Sims and Daniel Juncadella led the way with a fifth-place finish. The trio led 118 laps during Saturday and Sunday with the sister No. 4 Z06 GT3.R of Tommy Milner, Nicky Catsburg and Earl Bamber leading 38 additional laps.
Both of the Pratt Miller Corvettes experienced separate mechanical issues – the No. 3 had a cracked oil tank and the No. 4 had to replace a power steering pump inside the final six hours.
The victory was a popular one for the fan-favorite team who has fielded Ferraris for decades, mostly in the United States. Team Owner Guiseppe Risi has long been associated with racing in the U.S., based out of a Houston, Texas location.
Today’s victory was only Risi’s second victory at the Daytona enduro, having first won in 2002 in the SRP II class in the Grand-American Road Racing Series in a Lola B2K/40. Mr. Risi has had a long relationship fielding Ferraris. This race was the first together for the pair, and the 19th year for Risi entering the 24 Hours of Daytona, with the team having a total of 21 entries over that time.
Victory in the GTD class went the way of the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Daniel Morad, Indy Dontje, Russell Ward and Philip Ellis after Morad fended off a late charge from the No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari of Miguel Molina.
The #24 Conquest Racing Ferrari made it two cars in the top three for the Italian marque.
Rolex 24 Final Standings (4 Pages)Hour24