2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona - Race Report
After 24 grueling hours that saw a myriad of punctures, but surprisingly few full-course cautions, Cadillac proved again to be head-and-shoulders above the plentiful opposition, which included F1 Champ Fernando Alonso, in what was a truly record-breaking 56th running of the ultimate enduro test on the Daytona International Speedway.
Just two short years ago, the 24 Hours of Daytona was broken apart by no less than 21 full-course yellow periods. They were for cars slowing down or stopping on course, a number of crashes, and other more or less minor incidents. This meant that many competitors were able to get back some of the laps they’d lost since IMSA allows for a ‘wave-around’ procedure that sees cars that are a number of laps down gain a lap at each caution period – although each car can only gain a certain number of laps. As a team owner, you can rest assured that, having a 24 hour-long-race in front of you, there will surely be cautions that will give you the opportunity to gain some time that you might’ve lost – or should you?
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2017 12 Hours of Sebring - Race Report
The 65th Annual Sebring 12hrs race proved to be one of high attrition in the Prototype ranks that produced a result that most of us could’ve predicted to a certain extent and, on top of that, amazing battles towards the very end in both GT-LM and GT-D. Weather was fine throughout and, as a contrast to Daytona, there was a clear lack of caution which made it possible for strategies to play out as time went by.
The almighty Cadillacs received a hit in qualifying as Porsche works driver and 2016 WEC Drivers’ Champion Neel Jani slipped past to claim pole for Rebellion Racing and their ORECA 07 P2. The Swiss managed a 1:48.178 which was a record lap time in itself and was also better than Christian Fittipaldi’s fastest lap by only 0.095-seconds. Fittipaldi might’ve bettered Jani’s time with his last flyer but the No. 5 Action Express Racing Dallara-built Cadillac ran out of fuel while out on the track.
However, Fittipaldi still beat team-mate Dane Cameron who started third in the No. 31 Cadillac, ahead of Jose Gutierrez in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Ligier JS P2-17. Fifth sat the highest of the Extreme Speed Motorspot Nissan, specifically No. 22, while Wayne Taylor’s car was sixth. The other Nissan’s times were erased as the team pitted during the 15-minute-long session to fix some boost-related issues which is against the rules.
Gustavo Yacaman of BAR1 Motorsports was the fastest of the four-car Prototype Challenge field, his last lap attempt, a 1:53.506, besting James French’s quickest run on the famed road course. Buddy Rice was third in the sister BAR1 Motorsports entry, but his lap was some 2.5 seconds off pace.
Down the order in GT-LM, Ford set the pace, with two of its three GTs claiming first and second. Ryan Briscoe was the benchmark, his 1:55.939 in the No. 67 Ford also being a new track record in his class. Bill Auberlen held the previous record, his time being nearly 2.5 seconds slower. Tommy Milner was third, beaten also by Dirk Mueller’s Ford. Next to Milner sat Kevin Estre’s No. 911 works Porsche. It was again very close in GT-LM as the top six were separated by just 0.5-seconds.
Mercedes-Benz claimed its first ever Sebring podium as Tristan Vautier stormed to pole in the SunEnergy1 AMG GT GT3 posting the only lap in the 1:59 bracket. The lap time was another record and it was almost 0.8 seconds quicker than the best that Connor de Philippi could do in the Land Motorsport Audi. Corey Lewis was third in the quickest Lamborghini Huracan.
Looking at qualifying, it seemed like it was all to play for, although Cadillac in Prototype and Ford in GT-LM respectively seemed to have a certain advantage over their in-class rivals.
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2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona - Race Report
This year’s Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona was akin to a waterslide which picked up speed in the last couple of hours, with the big splash being in the very last minutes that decided the twice-around-the-clock race in three of the four classes. While at times lackluster due to the extended periods of rain that put proceedings under lengthy safety car periods, the longest race in IMSA’s Weathertech Sportscar Championship did not fail to deliver at the end in both excitement, drama, and controversy.
Daytona is where we’ve seen many formulas stage their debut. It was where the then-new 3.0-liter open-top prototypes kicked off, as well as the World Sportscar prototypes that replaced the GTPs in 1994. Then, in 2003, the Daytona Prototypes also had their first start at the 24-hour-long race. We were all looking back at the positive debuts and the not so positive ones trying to figure out how 2017’s edition will look. But, if anything, it was very hard to read into these 12 new prototypes. Seven of them were US-bound DPis while five were FIA/ACO-spec LMP2s and, after the December Test and the Roar, it was hard to pick a clear favorite. Certainly, the Cadillacs would be a feature but returning Swiss squad Rebellion Racing were also serious bidders for Victory Lane.
The GT classes were no pool of certainty either, new machinery also featuring in both GT-LM and GT-D. Porsche came with their first ever (or first since 1998, if you wish) mid-engined 911 while, further down, it was Lexus and Acura that debuted new cars. Mercedes-Benz was also on its IMSA debut, facing its first ever 24-hour race at Daytona. Perhaps the only certainty was that the Prototype Challenge was going to start in its last season of IMSA competition and a diminished grid of just five ORECA FLM-09s proved it.
Last but not least, weather was potentially preparing to throw a curve ball to add to the race’s equation in the form of rain between Saturday and Sunday. So, how was it all going to play out? We’d all find out in the course of 24 long hours.
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2017 Daytona 24 Hours Race Preview
Little over 50 years since the first Daytona 24-hour race in 1966, a new era in North-American sports car racing is beaconing and, as ever, it will all kick off on the famed Floridian beach where a host of brand-new prototypes will go head-to-head this twice-around-the-clock event. Now at its 55th edition, the race marks the start of the IMSA Weathertech Sports Car Championship season.
After a 13-year life cycle, the Daytona Prototypes (DPs) have been sent to their respective retirement homes, along with their LMP2-spec arch rivals, and in their place a new bunch of sports racers have arrived to thrill the fans. 2017 marks the debut of the DPi formula, as well as the new LMP2s. The first is based off the latter and, as such, they will race together in the Prototype class that will fight for overall honors.
Just below the bona fide UFOs that are the Prototypes we find the Prototype Challenge category which is entering its last season of competition. The spec prototype class has been a staple of American endurance sports car racing for over half a decade but this will be the last Daytona 24 Hours for the ORECA FLM-09s which, as their name suggests, were launched back in 2009. For this year, only a few cars are fielded in this class which once saw entries in the double digits.
Excitement will also be peaking in the top GT class, GT-LM. This category that features ACO GTE-spec cars from Porsche, Ferrari, BMW (not ACO compliant though), Ford, and Chevrolet and the battle is as heated as ever. Porsche has a new car and Ford brings four GTs to topple last year’s winners, Corvette Racing.
The slowest class of the field is, certainly, not the least important, as we’re talking about the GT-D category which is filled to the brim with GT3 cars. Among a plethora of Porsches and Lamborghinis we find brand-new models from Lexus and Acura, as well as three Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 cars. The total car count for GT-D alone is 27, adding to the 12 P cars, 5 PC and 11 GT-LM for a grand total of 55 cars on the grid on Saturday, January 28th.
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A bucket of firsts, twice-around-the-clock excitement in three of the four classes and some breakthrough performances are what have already transformed this year’s Rolex Daytona 24hrs into a classic and the perfect way to remember that, precisely half a century ago, Daytona hosted its first 24-hour race.
It was no coincidence, then, that Ford decided to bring their new GT racing car to Daytona for its international debut, although few expected the going to be as rough as it proved to be for the two Ganassi-run GT-LM entries. At the complete other end of the spectrum, with a clean and trouble-free race, Scott Sharp’s Extreme Speed Motorsport has scored a historical first win for an LMP2 car at Daytona – the first win for an ACO prototype since 2002.
It’s also the Ligier’s most important international victory and, arguably, the biggest win in the team’s six-year history. And, all of it would not have been possible without the massive aid of Pipo Derani – the young Brazilian hot-shoe that proved instrumental in the Patron-liveried car crossing the line in P1.
While the Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) cars were marred by issues across the board, the most important thing that needs to be put into perspective is the lack of overall pace displayed by these aging cars. The mere fact that the class winner was 20 laps behind the GT-LM Corvettes is one thing, but the fact that the ORECAs were also the slowest of all 54 starters is just as worrying.
Then there’s the GT-Daytona category that’s embraced the GT3 platform for 2016, and the 22-car strong grid proves IMSA right in its choice. Indeed, some pointed a finger toward Lamborghini’s massive top-end speed that is rumored to have been quicker than even the GT-LM cars but, at the end of the day, the Top 7 was comprised of seven different manufacturers. And, at least half of those could have won, given how tight it was at the end.
In a day and age where reliability is part of the status quo, to see two Corvettes battling it out for supremacy bumper-to-bumper after 24 hours of racing may not be that surprising. The fact that veterans Antonio Garcia and Oliver Gavin were given the green light to goose it out like they did is. Porsche was in close vicinity but the woes that sent out car #911 meant that only #912 was left standing and it was no match at the end for the two C7-Rs. Of the 100% brand-new cars, the Corvettes and Porsches being were new iterations based upon older designs, the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 came home fourth and BMW’s IMSA-only M6 GTLM scored fifth.
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The Daytona International Raceway is one of the most hallowed racetracks in the U.S. so its top speed record is pretty special in its own right.
Before Wednesday, the record has stood since 1987 when Bill Elliot hit 210.364 mph in a NASCAR cup car during one of the qualifying sessions leading up to the Daytona 500.
When the click hit Thursday, Elliot’s record went by the wayside, unseated by Ford Racing and its incredible Daytona Prototype Race Car.
Built and developed with the help of Riley Technologies and Roush Yates Engines, the Daytona Prototype Racecar and driver, Colin Braun, managed to accomplish what nobody in the past 26 years was able to do. It not only broke Elliot’s top speed record; it downright demolished it with a 222.971 mph top speed.
It’s an incredible achievement that was aided in large part by the racecar’s 3.5-liter, V-6 EcoBoost engine. The output for the prototype has yet to be disclosed, but if it’s capable of hitting 222 mph without breaking a sweat, there’s no denying that there are a whole lot of horses churning under its hood.
Click past the jump to read about the 2014 Ford Riley Technologies Daytona Prototype
The wonderful Danica Patrick made headlines the other day when sheouted herself as dating a fellow rookie in the Sprint Cup Series and now she has made headlines again. This time around, it is less gossip-like and more racing related, as she has become the first woman to ever win the pole position in NASCAR Sprint Cup history.
The closest woman to her new record was Janet Guthrie, who won the ninth starting position twice in her racing career. That’s a pretty significant jump in starting slots, so our hats go off to her.
Additionally, Patrick became the first Sprint Cup rookie driver to win the pole at the Daytona 500 since Jimmie Johnson accomplished the task back in the 2002 season. These accolades pile on top of Patrick becoming only the second woman driver to ever win pole position in NASCAR, which she accomplished in the NASCAR Nationwide Series last year.
Click past the jump to read NASCAR’s press release
Danica Patrick hit the wall hard during the very last lap of Thursday’s first qualifying race for the Daytona 500. She was holding the number ten spot with two corners to go when Aric Almirola’s Ford veered left into her No.10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, sending her sliding to the inside wall. She hit the wall so hard that her car briefly left the ground.
“It felt pretty big,” Patrick said. “I don’t know what it looked like, but it felt pretty big.”
“It happened really quick,” she said. “When it gets down to the end of the race, everybody’s on each other’s doors really close. That’s what happens. Unfortunately, I was part of it.”
“We were looking to finish honestly,” Patrick said. “I felt comfortable. It was just a matter of getting into the right line with the right people. I’m just bummed out. We only had two corners to go.”
She climbed out of the wreckage uninjured, thanks in part to her taking her hands off the steering wheel just before impact. Wrist and hand injuries are very common in NASCAR when a driver crashes while tightly gripping the wheel. Despite the crash, Patrick still finished in 16th position.
In some good news, Danica returned to Daytona International Speedway on Friday in her backup car and won the pole position for Saturday’s Nationwide race. This makes her only the second woman to ever win a pole in NASCAR’s 64-year history. Patrick started her NASCAR Sprint Cup debut in 29th position at the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26.
UPDATE 02/27/2012: For the first time in 54 years, the Daytona 500 has been postponed due to some scattered showers that moved in around race time. The race was supposed to be moved to today at noon, but the weatherman put a stop to that as well. If rain doesn’t get in the way again, the Daytona 500 will take place tonight at 7pm ET.
In its short life span, Audi’s R8 LMS race car has proved to be a major force in the racing scene, having already amassed over 100 victories despite being only a couple of years old.
The R8 LMS’ world domination includes wins in Europe, Australia, and Asia with America being the only notable region that it hasn’t conquered. You can blame that on the stricter Grand-Am regulations, but Audi is looking into adhering to these regulations by building a car that will conform to the standards of Grand-Am racing.
“We’re convinced that we’re making a very attractive offer to our customers in the USA that will meet with great response,” says Romolo Liebchen, Head of customer racing at quattro GmbH.
“The anniversary event of the Daytona 24 Hours is a perfect occasion for the debut of the U.S. version of the new Audi R8 LMS.”
Among the tweaks and modifications being done on the R8 LMS to make it Grand-Am ready include the use of thicker-walled tubing in the roll cage, a new front splitter, a rear diffuser, and a new Grand-Am-spec rear wing.
In terms of performance, the R8 LMS Grand-AM will also come with a modified engine and the addition of an air restrictor that will drop the output of the R8 LMS from 493 horspepower to around 450 to 470 horsepower. Certain elements of the R8 LMS will also be removed for the Grand Am version, including the anti-lock system and traction control. Incidentally, Grand Am rules view these technologies as driving aids in the US.
UPDATE 12/12/2011: Audi has announced that the R8 GRAND-AM is now ready for the North American market. The car successfully finished its testing at the Daytona race track (Florida) and the first deliveries will be made in January, 2012.
"We successfully tested all the modifications at Daytona," says Romolo Liebchen, Head of Customer Sport at quattro GmbH. "With Frank Stippler we developed a sound and solid set-up for our customers and also gathered valuable findings in the endurance tests. The durability of wearing parts and runs at high outside temperatures meet challenging demands. We can now provide our racing customers with concrete advice and reference values for fielding the car."
UPDATE 01/24/2012: The Audi R8 GRAND-AM will make its debut this weekend on the 50th running of the Daytona 24 Hours from January 26th to 29th. "Our team prepared for this step at previous runs in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. APR is known around the world as one of the leading tuners of Audi, Volkswagen, Seat and Škoda vehicles. We’re looking forward to the Audi R8 GRAND-AM with huge anticipation, our customers and fans are really excited and since the ‘Roar before the 24’ test we’ve just been dying for the 24-hour race to start."
UPDATE 01/27/2012: Audi has unveiled new images and a video of the R8 Grand-Am during its practice time at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The race will be aired on Speed T.V. on Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 2:30 EST.
UPDATE 07/17/12: Audi France has released a pretty cool video of the R8 LMS Grand-Am Racer titled "Symbiosis". Check it out by clicking on the photo above!
Kyle Busch was beaten by Jamie McMurray on the Daytona International Speedway in the Pepsi 400 race.McMurray finished the race after his car appeared to touch several times with Kyle’s car. He nosed across the finish line a mere 0.005 seconds ahead of Busch.
Team-mates and family seemed to be the key in the final laps for Kurt Busch. Busch received drafting help from his brother, Kurt Busch, who brought his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge across the finish line in third.
Kurt Busch finished on the (...)