Trent Hindman and Cameron Cassels broke the Ford Mustang stranglehold on the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge field at Daytona, claiming a thrilling win for Porsche in the season-opening BMW Endurance Challenge.
Cassels qualified the No. 12 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport in the 16th position on Thursday, but it was Hindman who started the car in the newly-expanded four-hour enduro.
The New Jersey native appeared to be the only driver who could run with the new Mustangs that had qualified 1-2, and had worked his way into the top-three in his opening stint before relinquishing the controls to Cassels at the first round of stops.
A straightforward day got turned on its head when Cassels spun just over an hour into the race, forcing the Bodymotion team to adopt a more aggressive approach to get back in the race.
The race’s third full course yellow allowed the team to get caught back up and fight their way back to the front.
With Hindman back behind the wheel, the Bodymotion Porsche and the No. 15 Multimatic-run Mustang of Scott Maxwell and Jade Buford appeared poised for a dramatic fight to the finish.
The Mustang, which had already overcome a drive-through penalty for speeding in pit lane, was penalized again with just 16 minutes remaining for spinning its wheels while up on the jacks and had to serve a drive-through penalty from the lead.
That handed the top spot back to Hindman, who held off the Marc Miller and Till Bechtolsheimer-driven No. 33 CJ Wilson Racing Porsche in a three-minute shootout after a late caution period.
Damien Faulkner and Russell Ward paired to finish third in the No. 35 CJ Wilson Racing car, with the No. 28 RS1 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR in fourth and the Multimatic Motorsports Mustang in fifth.
The pole-sitting KohR Motorsports Mustang suffered a driveshaft failure just over 30 minutes into the race and had to settle for 14th in class.
The ST class battle was controlled by the No. 73 MINI JCW of Derek Jones and Mat Pombo, who took a 1.568-second win over the Eric Foss and Jeff Mosing-driven Porsche Cayman.
Coming from third on the grid in qualifying, the No. 73 MINI was never out of the picture for the class win and appeared to be the strongest car in the field for most of the race.
Third place went to Nick Galante and Spencer Pumpelly, the latter of which put in a sterling drive to recover from bad track position in the final hour in the No. 17 RS1 Porsche Cayman.
Early race-leaders Connor Bloum, Aurora Straus, and Nick Longhi teamed to take third in another RS1 Porsche, with Owen Trinkler and Sarah Cattaneo taking fifth in the CRG-I Do Borrow Nissan Altima.
Up next for the Continental Tire Challenge competitors is the Sebring 150 at Sebring on March 17.
RESULTS: BMW Endurance Challenge