DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Porsche Penske Motorsport’s Felipe Nasr won the race off of pit road during the final caution with 43 minutes to go Sunday (Jan. 28). From there, Nasr was able to hold off Action Express Racing’s Tom Blomqvist to win the 62nd running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona for himself and teammates Matt Campbell, Dane Cameron and Josef Newgarden.
“It’s incredible the way this race ebbed and flowed and the way the Cadillacs drove today,” Campbell said after the race. “Hats off to them, they really gave it to us. To finally get our first big victory in this car in the world. It’s phenomenal. What a team. It’s one year in a making after last year. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys.”
The margin of victory was 2.112 seconds over Action Express Racing’s Blomqvist, Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken. Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Global’s Jenson Button, Louis Deletraz, Colton Herta and Jordan Taylor finished third, followed by the No. 6 Porsche of Kevin Estre, Mathieu Jaminet, Nick Tandy and Laurens Vanthoor. Proton Competition’s Gianmaria Bruni, Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Alessio Picariello were fifth.
For much of the weekend, the Cadillacs were the talk of the town. They were fastest in all four practice sessions and were expected to dominate.
In practice, the early hours Saturday were like that. Derani started from pole and dominated early. The only team that could run with Action Express Racing was Chip Ganassi Racing. Once the sun set, the Porsches came to life.
Campbell was able to take the lead for the first time late in the sixth hour. From that point on, both Porsches were in contention. The No. 6 could have won the race had they not been penalized three times for exceeding the allowed power limits.
Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Global had struggled for much of the week, but had Filipe Albuquerque up to third when disaster struck just before 10 p.m. ET. The wiring harness shorted out, resulting in an entire wiring loom change. The team lost 75 laps doing that, then lost most ground with additional issues. They would ultimately finish ninth in class.
The Ganassi charge was effectively derailed when the No. 01 Cadillac was forced into running over debris that resulted in a flat tire. The unscheduled stop put the team a lap back.
Renger van der Zande still had plenty of speed and tried to get back into the hunt until the Cadillac died in the 14th hour. It could not be revived, ending the day.
Porsche more or less took over the race starting in the 18th hour with Campbell and Nasr assuming control. In the 22nd hour, Nasr had an 11-second lead over Blomqvist. With the help of traffic, he was able to reel him back in.
After a round of stops, Blomqvist was able to make the pass for the lead. Shortly afterwards, the No. 12 Lexus of Vasser Sullivan’s Parker Thompson caught fire to bring out the final yellow.
That brought everyone back to pit road for final stops. Nasr’s previous stop was two laps later than Blomqvist’s. That was all he needed to win the race off pit road.
In LMP2, the team to beat early on was United Autosports’ No. 2 entry. They appeared to be significantly faster than anyone else.
Meanwhile, further back, a number of teams had issues. High Class Racing had mechanical problems almost from the start before they dropped out. TDS Racing’s Steven Thomas had a more spectacular exit from the race in the second hour.
Sean Creech Motorsport had a terrible debut for their Ligier JS P217-Gibson. The car quit on course no less than three times during the race and caused a fourth yellow when the engine cover flew off the car.
It was only after the sun set that challengers arose. CrowdStrike Racing by APR, led by Colin Braun and Malthe Jakobsen, successfully took the battle to United Autosports. An untimely caution dropped them back out of the hunt.
Later on, it was Era Motorsport that took the battle to CrowdStrike Racing by APR. The early morning hours featured fierce battles for the lead between Jakobsen and Connor Zilisch, a 17-year-old making his IMSA debut ahead of a very busy season.
The two drivers fought hard until Jakobsen beat Zilisch out of the pits. Strong form from Ryan Dalziel got Era Motorsport the lead back.
The race did come down to Era Motorsport (via Christian Rasmussen) and Jakobsen. Rasmussen got an excellent restart and managed to pull away. Meanwhile, Jakobsen got into the GTP BMW of Jesse Krohn and spun out the No. 24, which resulted in a warning.
Rasmussen was able to pull out a lead of nearly five seconds over Jakobsen. The lead narrowed in the closing laps, but it was enough to earn Rasmussen, Zilisch, Dalziel and Dwight Merriman the class win.
The margin of victory was 6.8 seconds over CrowdStrike Racing by APR’s Braun, Jakobsen, George Kurtz and Toby Sowery. Riley Motorsports’ Josh Burdon, Felipe Fraga, Felipe Massa and Gar Robinson were third, followed by Inter Europol Competition with PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Nick Boulle, Tom Dillmann, Pietro Fittipaldi and Jakub Smiechowski. Tower Motorsport’s John Farano, Ferdinand Habsburg and Scott McLaughlin were fifth.
In GTD Pro, the defending champions from Vasser Sullivan took the lead in the opening lap and appeared to be the car to beat. That form didn’t even survive the first hour as High Class Racing’s Dennis Andersen had contact with Sean Creech Motorsport’s Dr. Lance Willsey exiting turn 2.
Andersen was directly in front of Ben Barnicoat when this happened. Andersen ended up dropping a wheel and spinning. Barnicoat couldn’t react quick enough and this was the result.
Just like that, any chance of a decent finish was squashed. The team got the car back out 63 minutes later and ran competitively. Additional mechanical issues ended the team’s race in the overnight hours.
For much of the overnight hours, Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports No. 3 and Paul Miller Racing’s BMW dominated the proceedings. Unfortunately, the No. 3 Corvette with Alexander Sims at the wheel started smoking and periodically flashing flames. Eventually, Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports was forced to take the car to the garage for repairs.
Risi Competizione inherited the lead when Sims had his issues with Neil Verhagen in the Miller BMW as the only other driver on the lead lap. Later on, the BMW was eliminated from contention when the brakes went.
After a brake change, the right front wheel tried to come off, forcing another stop that put the Risi Competizione Ferrari a lap ahead. Cautions put the AO Racing Porsche back on the lead lap later, but Daniel Serra easily held on to take the class win for himself, James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Davide Rigon.
The margin of victory was a lap (due to positioning of the overall leaders) over AO Racing’s Michael Christensen, Laurin Heinrich and Sebastian Priaulx. Verhagen, Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow and Sheldon van der Linde ended up two laps down in third. The Heart of Racing’s Mario Farnbacher, Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas were five laps back in fourth, while Sims, Antonio Garcia and Daniel Juncadella managed a fifth-place finish
In GTD, Vasser Sullivan’s Aaron Telitz led from pole and dominated the opening hours. However, once pit strategy came into play, Inception Racing, Team Korthoff Motorsports and Cetilar Racing were all contenders. Winward Racing were right there as well.
Indy Dontje was able to take the lead away from Triarsi Competizione’s Onofrio Triarsi after a long battle in the 21st hour. From there, Dontje and Daniel Morad expanded the lead significantly. When the final caution flew with 51 minutes to go, Morad had a 31-second lead.
The margin of victory was 2.731 seconds over AF Corse’s Kei Cozzolino, Francois Heriau, Simon Mann and Miguel Molina. Conquest Racing’s Alessandro Balzan, Albert Costa, Manny Franco and Cedric Sbirrazzuoli were third in their Ferrari, followed by Triarsi, Ricardo Agostini, Alessio Rovera and Charlie Scardina. Team Korthoff Motorsports’ Maximilian Goetz, Mikael Grenier, Kenton Koch and Mike Skeen finished fifth.
WeatherTech teams will be back in action March 16 with the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway. Coverage will air on a combination of USA Network and Peacock, starting at 9:30 a.m. ET.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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