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Action Express Holds On for Victory in Record-Setting Rolex 24

Filipe Albuquerque, Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi win record-filled Rolex 24 at Daytona…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

Filipe Albuquerque held onto claim victory for Action Express Racing and Cadillac in a record-setting Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Albuquerque took his No. 5 Cadillac DPi-V.R to a one-lap margin over teammate Stuart Middleton, following late-race drama for the Mustang Sampling-sponsored machine, which battled overheating issues.

Both the Nos. 5 and 31 Cadillacs made separate trips to the garage for fluids in the final seven hours, with the Whelen entry going three laps down as a result due to its stop while under green flag conditions.

A collision with the No. 7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 also resulted in a nose change to the No. 31 car, and subsequent penalty.

Middleton and co-drivers Mike Conway, Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr, however, fought back in the closing hours as the sister car slowly deteriorated.

The pair of Action Express entries outlasted challenges from Acura, Nissan, Mazda and the two fellow Cadillac entries, which all hit trouble to varying degrees in the race.

It marked the team’s third Rolex 24 victory and first since 2014, a race also won by co-drivers Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi.

The car completed 808 laps, smashing the previous distance and lap record in the Florida endurance classic, in a race that featured only four full-course cautions.

Colin Braun took the No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca 07 Gibson to a podium finish in third, benefiting from clutch issues for the No. 32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson, which lost several laps in the closing hours.

Braun shared driving duties with Romain Dumas, Loic Duval and team owner Jon Bennett, who picked up Trueman award honors.

The No. 32 United Autosports Ligier was fourth, with the No. 78 Jackie Chan DCR JOTA Oreca completing the top five.

Team Penske, which led with both of its debuting Acura ARX-05s, ended up 9th and 10th overall, following contact with the No. 31 Cadillac with eight hours to go and the No. 6 car losing 25 laps with an alternator change.

Fernando Alonso, in his sports car racing debut, finished 38th overall after a flurry of problems for the No. 23 United Autosports Ligier that included a master cylinder change, and brake and throttle issues.

Both Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPis and Mazda Team Joest entries, meanwhile, retired, with gearbox (No. 2) and engine (No. 22) failures for the ESM entries and a fire ending the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P’s race after a troubled run for both entries.

Defending race winners Wayne Taylor Racing, which started on pole, also failed to finish, with the team parking its No. 10 Cadillac DPi for safety reasons following a series of five tire punctures. 

Spirit of Daytona’s debuting Cadillac, meanwhile, dropped out with engine issues in the 9th hour.

RESULTS: Rolex 24 at Daytona

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. Binky

    January 28, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    I may not be happy with the end result, but I have to say that was a great race, and the cars that won were the fastest cars.

    Best thing about this year is the absence of Prototype Challenge.

    • Marneus

      January 28, 2018 at 3:27 pm

      Yes but we had BAR1 car, and it was most of the time worst than LMPC. I continue to ask how Gaughan entered in the car, and he was soooooo slow, black flag would have been deployed for this.

      • Rocket J Squirrel

        January 28, 2018 at 3:57 pm

        Yeah, the former Rolex 24 class winner was the problem with that car.

  2. Azuma

    January 28, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Put Crowns on their heads, cause Action Express Racing are this year’s Kings of Daytona.

    • Barber

      January 28, 2018 at 3:05 pm

      Until Ganassi returns to prototype after the Ford GT program finishes.

      • David Chaste

        January 28, 2018 at 8:15 pm

        Ganassi was in prototype when axr won daytona and sebring 2014. And penske is as good if not better than ganassi.

        • Travis McBee

          January 29, 2018 at 8:04 am

          Axr won Daytona in 2014, Ganassi won Sebring in 2014. Ganassi won Daytona in 2015, and AXR won Sebring in 2015.

  3. J.C.

    January 28, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    Glad there were very little cautions. This race was straight up pace. If you don’t have it, then you got dusted. But I’m sure there will be some changes come Sebring.

  4. GridS2Plaza

    January 28, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Great run by Core Autosport. Doubt they will be much of a factor in sprint races, but nice to see them get a podium here. I’m sure having 2 top shelf drivers like Duval and Dumas helped, but its still nice when the underdog teams do well in the bigger races.

    DPi reliability has a ways to go.

    Also, what a wonderful surprise to have so few yellow periods. That might have been the most amazing thing about the whole event.

  5. usrrc

    January 28, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    bad race

  6. daedalus

    January 28, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    The number of tyre failures made it a complete lottery rather than a motorrace. Never seen so many failures in a since race. The BOP was fairly close but the caddys still had a slight edge over the long run but it was more to do with parts failures on the other cars that made it easy for the two remaining caddys. ESM and Joest have work to do if they want to get to the end at sebring.

    GTLM was boring as the BOP favored the fords but they stayed out of trouble so they deserve it.

    GTD was the most interesting class with the podium changing in the last half hour. Alvaro and Acura did well to get 2nd and the grasser lambo was a deserving winner after such a close race.

    • racefan101

      January 30, 2018 at 6:49 am

      Actually the 22 ESM car was the fastest car on the track when they had the tire problem. they have pace, just need to look at the reliability.

  7. Russ

    January 28, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    Sorry to see Pat Long’s ride get crunched on, what, lap 2? Penske, as expected, did very well for their Acura maiden voyage.

    • Jack

      January 28, 2018 at 3:59 pm

      the car crashed on the pace lap.

      • Gabe Docks

        January 28, 2018 at 5:13 pm

        Renauer didn’t crash Jack, his front wheel caved in.

        • Rus’L

          January 28, 2018 at 5:23 pm

          I read he hit the wall. So which happened first?

    • Bjones

      January 28, 2018 at 4:25 pm

      I believe that was on the pace lap. Maybe lap 1

      • Haskellb

        January 29, 2018 at 8:22 am

        It happened during the formation laps before the race started.

  8. fourloko

    January 28, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    don’t understand caddy engine problems when its the same engine corvette has been running.

    • someone

      January 28, 2018 at 3:54 pm

      It was a cooling issue not an engine itself issue.

    • Bjones

      January 28, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      It’s not.

    • Rus’L

      January 28, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      It’s not the same engine. They “downsized” it.

  9. Anthony

    January 28, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    I just left the race. I don’t believe there is anything intentional about the BOP,but it is ruining these races for me. Granted, the races are about enduring problems and surviving, but the Cadillacs were so stout compared to the rest of the field. Unless all four had terminal problems,nobody else was winning that race. Same goes for GTLM. It looked like it was Ford’s turn.

    You do have to acknowledge the talent of a driver field that causes four cautions in a 24 hour race. I saw a lot of respect and looking out for other drivers out there. Very impressive.

    • Doug P

      January 28, 2018 at 6:24 pm

      Anthony, that’s a good summary and also how it appeared on TV. I can’t recall another 24 where the drivers drove this “professionally” overall.

      The TV announcers did their best to create drama and tension, but alas there was almost none since the sun came up and the rain never arrived either. They even tried to say someone 40 seconds back was looking like they would gain position in the last half hour? Hello! No last hour blown engines, passing, repairs needed etc. GTD had some decent drama.

      The upcoming season is going to be Fantastic!!

  10. Antonio Desmond Miles

    January 28, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    The pace of the cars have just been tremendous. It really helped that there was only 4 full-course cautions. Despite the 1-2 finish for the Caddies, the rest were the new-gen LMP2’s in the top 5. The evo updates looks like it didn’t help the performance of the Ligier and especially the Riley. Speaking of Riley, unless Mazda Team Joest parts ways with AER, we’ll just keep on seeing those same engines go up in flames. They need to just take those engines in-house. Just to get off topic a bit, if that happened to these AER engines, what do you think is going to happen to the BR Engineering Dallara LMP1’s in the WEC? Hmmmm….

    • Max

      January 28, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      AER has done well in the past with their LMP1 spec V6 engines. They’ll probably be fine.

      • Mart

        January 28, 2018 at 6:09 pm

        That’s not true

  11. Sir Skidsalot

    January 28, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Just like I posted after the BoP was announced for the race. The Cadillacs dumped enough sand out at the ROAR to make IMSA give them an adjustment and make it “look” fair, only to have enough sand let to dump at race time to handily be the class of the field.

    • Kevin

      January 28, 2018 at 4:39 pm

      Both Penske cars were right there with the Cadillacs until encountering trouble mid-race.

      • Barber

        January 28, 2018 at 6:41 pm

        The Nissan was too

  12. JaymondoGB

    January 28, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Well theres a surprise, the caddy won….

  13. Brandon

    January 28, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    I was excited for AXR vs Penske, but if they drive all year like they did in the 24 they’ll be in the garage or penalty box every race. The amount of drivers and people watching saying how stupidly aggressive (worse than Barbosa somehow) is a bad sign to come.

  14. John

    January 28, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Did the cameras catch what happened between the 31 and 7? Which was leading at the time?

    I’m curious if it was Helio being Helio. One of pit reports even had another driver making a crack about that.

    Unlike IndyCar, here in a class where everyone has fenders, others won’t hesitate to move you out of the way if you get too “wide.”

    He’s been quick thus far, but may have to adjust his style.

  15. Lanky Turtle

    January 28, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    There seemed to be a problem with AXR’s rear spoiler in post race tech. They checked it and rechecked it and brought other guys over to check it again. They didn’t look real happy when they pushed the car away so hopefully there’s not some sort of penalty forthcoming.

  16. Greg

    January 28, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    Since no one has mentioned it, I will. Sooooo disapointed in mazda

    • Antonio Desmond Miles

      January 28, 2018 at 9:27 pm

      It’s not Mazda. Blame AER. Most of the time their engines don’t last 24 hour races.
      Le Mans 2008: KSM Lola-Mazda DNF
      Le Mans 2009: KSM Lola-Mazda DNF, RML Lola-Mazda DNF, Oak Pescarolo-Mazda DNF

    • nick

      January 28, 2018 at 10:18 pm

      same

      • Antonio Desmond Miles

        January 29, 2018 at 5:21 am

        Not exactly. Those engines used were branded as Mazdas but still AER underneath.

  17. spirit of 962

    January 29, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    IMSA goes from strength to strength-is it really beyond the wit of Euro and US governing bodies to give us a true ‘World’ sportscar championship? Daytona/Sebring/Le Mans/Fuji and a handful of others? What wouldn’t you give to see Cadillac and Acura (and Ford??) DPIs take on Toyota and the WEC privateers at Le Mans?
    Prototypes NEED manufacturer involvement, you never know, you might even tempt Porsche back.
    Oh and do not be in any doubt, Joest will have these Mazdas singing like birds by the end of the season.

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