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IMSA WeatherTech at Daytona: Taylor team wins and makes it four years in a row for Cadillac

IMSA WeatherTech at Daytona:

Taylor Cadillac team wins and makes it four years in a row for Cadillac

Daytona Beach, FL, Jan 25-26/20 (GRW): In the four years since the WeatherTech DPi series began, the Rolex 24 at Daytona has always been won by a Cadillac DPi car. This year the winning car was the No. 10 Cadillac entered by Wayne Taylor and driven by Kamui Kobayashi/Renger van der Zande/Ryan Briscoe/Scott Dixon.

The #77 Mazda of Oliver Jarvis, Tristian Nunez and Oliver Pla finished second, the best result ever for a Mazda DPi in the 24-hour grind here. Last year the Mazdas broke through and won three WeatherTech races in a row, the longest being the six-hour race at Watkins Glen – but this was their first 24-hour win here.

Finishing third, and the only other car to finish on the lead lap was the No. 5 Mustang Sampling/JDC Miller Cadillac.

This year the weather was good for the entire race, albeit a bit cold for Florida through the night. The good weather combined with a lower than usual car count – 38 cars – contributed to a lower-than-usual number of caution periods. There were six cautions for a total of one hour, 43 minutes. As a result, the winning car set a new record for the 24-hour race distance: 833 laps or 2,965 miles.

The No. 77 Mazda won the pole ahead of the 2019 championship team, the No. 6 Acura of J-P Montoya, Dane Cameron and Simon Pagenaud. The No. 55 Mazda of Jonathan Bomarito/Harry Tincknell/Ryan Hunter-Reay was third quickest.

The fourth and fifth grid slots were occupied by the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac and the No. 10 Konica/Minolta Cadillac.

The first of the front-runners to fall out of contention was the No. 7 Acura driven by Helio Castro-Neves on lap 121. He backed off to follow a slower car though the bus-stop chicane but Harry Tincknell in the No. 55 Mazda thought it was an opportunity to squeeze past. Instead he collided with the Acura and it slammed into the barrier, sustaining significant damage to the front and rear of the car.

Castro-Neves took the car into the garage area where the team did a massive rebuild of the car. It did return to the race track and it did take the checker but the crash had killed any hopes of a good finish. Tincknell was given a drive-through penalty for his indiscretion but it did nothing to compensate the Penske team for the assault to their car and its subsequent failure to finish well.

Later on, during the night hours, the No. 6 Acura started porpoising (bouncing up and down due to an aerodynamic quirk). The team worked on the car and reduced the problem but it was never able to run a competitive speed for the rest of the race.

The No. 10 Cadillac came to the fore and took over the lead on lap 438 and it led for the next 200 laps – and it was looking like this car was the favourite to win at the end of the 24-hours.

As the sun was rising the next morning Ryan Briscoe, who had been leading in the No. 10 Cadillac, was exiting the pits when the red light came on at the exit. The light came on just as he was arriving at the end of the pit lane and he might have been forgiven for missing it – but he was not. He was given a penalty of 60 seconds in the pits – which dropped him a lap down and seemingly out of contention. However, about a half-hour later another yellow flew and this enabled him to get back on the lead lap and revived hope of a good finish.

By lap 690 the No. 10 was back in the lead reviving its prospects of winning the race. This car led the rest of the way – except for a single lap during a late-race pit stop cycle and it went on the take the checker. Kobayashi had taken over the car at 10:59 am and he stayed in the seat through the final six stints until the finish at 1:40 pm on Sunday.

While this result for the Cadillac might make it seem like this make will have the upper hand for the rest of the year, we need to remember that Daytona is a unique, very fast track and most of the races to follow are sprint races of three hours or less with only three more endurance races (12 hours, six hours and ten hours) remaining on the schedule. The Daytona race showed that both the Acura and the Mazda prototypes do have competitive speed and but for bad luck one or both of the Acuras could have had a good finish here. Look for the rest of the season to provide close competition between all three makes of prototypes.

The LMP2 class was rather pathetic last year with, typically only two or three entries. This year, things are looking up and this race had five starters. At the end of 24 hours four of them were still running behind the DPi cars. The No 7 DPi Acura had kept plugging away after falling to the back of the field and it was scored in 8th place ahead of the four LMP2 cars. The class winner was the No. 81 ORECA driven by Ben Hanley/Henrik Hedman/Colin Braun/Harrison Newey. The No. 52 ORECA finished second in class, two laps behind.

PHOTO IMSA WT PORSCHES levitt ROLEX 1 20 29786Matt Campbell, Nick Tandy, Fred Makowiecki, #912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR - 19, GTLM: Laurens Vanthoor, Earl Bamber, Mathieu Jaminet, (Levitt/LAT Images)

Although the GTLM class no longer has the contingent of Ford GTs we were used to seeing here, there was still a competitive entry made up of two of the new rear-engined Corvettes, two BMW M8s, one Ferrari 488 and two factory Porsches (the new 911 RSR-19). In the end if came down to a battle between the two Porsches and the No. 24 BMW of John Edwards/Augusto Farfus/Chaz Mostert/Jesse Krohn. These three cars came out of their final round of pit stops all in a bunch but the BMW was able to gain the upper hand and it finished 14 seconds ahead of Earl Bamber in the #912 Porsche who was, in turn, four seconds ahead of his teammate Nick Tandy in the #911 Porsche. A close result after 24 hours.

Don’t forget that this was the very first outing of the new C.8 Corvettes, so is only seems reasonable that we can expect some better results once they get they cars developed.

The GTD (GT3) class had 18 entries and eight different makes that seemed to be well equalized. The No. 9 Pfaff Porsche with Canadian driver Zacharie Robinson started from the pole and it ran well for much of the race fighting for the lead with the No. 48 Lamborghini of Madison Snow/Bryan Sellers/Corey Lewis/Andrea Caldarelli and the No. 44 Lamborghini of John Potter/Andy Lally/Spencer Pumpelly/Marco Mapelli . Just before dawn the No. 9 car went behind the wall and its race for the class win was over. The two Lamborghinis, No. 48 and No. 44 finished one-two in this class.

Click HERE for the full results of Rolex 24 at Daytona

The next race is the Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 21. Note that the World Endurance Championship will be running a separate ‘1000 miles of Sebring’ on March 20, the day before the IMSA 12-hour race.


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