The 24 Hours of Daytona finished this weekend with several winners and a technical upset that reset the win in the much-anticipated GT Class. The 24 hours of speed resulted in several mishaps, a few cars getting totaled out of the race, and a historic faceoff between the new Corvette and the SRT Viper – something not seen in decades.
Early on in the race, an hour-long red flag held up the race after a gasp-inducing crash when Memo Gidley, in the pole-winning No. 99 GAINSCO Corvette DP, rear-ended the already-disabled No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia driven by Matteo Malucelli. Both drivers were sent to the hospital and wreckage was slow to get cleared from the track.
Lead changes were common during the course of the twenty-four. The winning team covered 695 laps, for a total of 2,474.2 miles, and held the lead for 313 of those.
The GTLM class win went to Porsche, with factory drivers Nick Tandy, Richard Lietz and Patrick Pilet in their 911 RSR taking this first round of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship. This is the 40th class victory for the 911 in the Daytona race and the 76th for Porsche overall. This also debuted the Porsche North America racing team as a factory squad.
The Action Express Racing Corvette DP driven by Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais taking victory in the Prototype Challenge with a scant 1.461-second lead. This was Barbosa’s second overall victory at Daytona, his third Rolex Daytona Cosmograph, the second win for Fittipaldiand the first win in this class for Champ Car World Series champion Bourdais.
The GT Daytona class win was given to Audi’s new R8 LMS after a time penalty dropped the #555 Ferrari to second. Then, hours after the race and after Audi had already reported the win by drivers Nelson Canache Jr, Tim Pappas, Markus Winkelhock, and Spencer Pumpelly, the IMSA revised its time-penalty decision for the Ferrari team, putting the back in the winning spot and pushing Audi down to second.
Flying Lizard Motorsports could take further action against the reversal by asking for appeal, but have not done as of this writing. Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Sport customer racing: “It is unfortunate that the events after the race cast a shadow on a really great race in the Daytona GT class. Probably this race deserves two winners.”
In other classes, new manufacturer entry Nissan in a new alliance with Muscle Milk had their debut took fifth place in their P2 debut in the Prototypes division. Despite mechanical problems mid-race, the OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan entry also placed within the top ten of its class and eighth overall for a surprising comeback.
The next in the series will be the Sebring 12 Hours on March 14-15.