Alegra Motorsports marked their return to the Rolex 24 at Daytona with victory in the GT Daytona class, 10 years on from the team’s victory in the 2007 race.
The No. 28 Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Michael Christensen, Daniel Morad, Jesse Lazare, Carlos de Quesada and 17-year-old Michael de Quesada edged out the No. 29 Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS of Christopher Mies, Connor De Philippi, Jules Gounon and Jeffrey Schmidt by 0.293 seconds.
Porsche factory driver Christensen took the lead at the final round of pitstops under the 20th of 21 full-course caution periods, when the Land Audi was slow to refuel.
After re-joining in fourth, Mies quickly picked his way back into second, but could not get close enough to mount a challenge on Christensen, the Dane only emerging as a contender for victory in the final two hours.
The Alegra Porsche had spent much of the race just off the lead lap, but took advantage of a yellow when Sam Bird’s class-leading No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 retired with engine failure with two hours to go to put themselves in the frame.
Christensen charged through from sixth to second in the penultimate hour, his incisive pass on Jeroen Bleekemolen’s No. 33 Riley Team AMG Mercedes-AMG GT3 at the Bus Stop on lap 599 crucial in setting up the class victory.
Bleekemolen, Ben Keating, Adam Christodoulou and Mario Farnbacher led with just over an hour to go, but still finished third on the first outing for Mercedes-AMG in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Despite late issues befalling the No. 93 car of Andy Lally, the Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 enjoyed a positive competition debut, as the No. 86 car of Jeff Segal, Ozz Negri, Tom Dyer and Ryan Hunter-Reay led several laps in the early morning hours and finished fifth.
Elsewhere, the eagerly-anticipated Lexus RC F GT3 had a troubled debut with the 3GT Racing squad.
Scott Pruett’s No. 14 car was the race’s first retirement following an accident in the second hour, while the No. 15 car fell out of contention with a puncture in hour nine and was eventually classified 14th.
RESULTS: Rolex 24 at Daytona