Augusto Farfus, Colton Herta, Philipp Eng and Connor de Phillippi gave the BMW M8 GTE an emotional first endurance race victory in the 57th Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The No. 25 BMW was leading the GT Le Mans category when the rain-affected IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener was red-flagged with just under two hours remaining.
This ensured an emotional win coming three days after the death of Schnitzer Motorsport team principal Charly Lamm, who masterminded the German manufacturer’s 24 Hours of Le Mans victory in 1999.
The result was sealed when Farfus, who was a last-minute stand-in for Tom Blomqvist, found a way past Ferrari factory driver James Calado in treacherous conditions with just over two hours to go.
That was the battle for second at the time, but race leader Richard Westbrook owed a stop in the No. 67 Ford GT.
Westbrook had taken the class lead by being the only driver not to pit during the 16th and penultimate full-course caution, but when the Englishman needed to come in for fuel at the end of a mammoth stint, Farfus was perfectly seated to take the win.
Westbrook minimized the damage by coming in under the caution that turned into the final red flag, but he still dropped to third on the track behind Farfus and Calado.
The No. 67 Ford was then given a post-race 1 minute and 48-second time penalty for not being able to serve its post-emergency pit stop, demoting the car to fourth.
These were the only three entries that were destined to finish on the lead lap, with the third-placed No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR running a lap down.
A collision between the sister No. 911 Porsche driven by Frederic Makowiecki and Joey Hand in the No. 66 Ford eliminated both cars from contention in the mid-morning.
Corvette Racing couldn’t improve on its double top-four finish from last year as both cars lost laps due to separate incidents.
The Pratt & Miller squad’s championship-defending No. 3 car lost eight laps when it ground to a halt near the halfway mark with an electrical issue that compromised its fuel monitoring system.
Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller recovered to finish 11 laps down in sixth, while the No. 4 machine was eliminated when Tommy Milner aquaplaned into the Turn 1 barriers in Hour 19.
The No. 24 Team RLL BMW that included Alex Zanardi struggled to catch with the leaders after a series of delays.
An issue with fitting Zanardi’s specially-modified steering wheel when the Italian took over the BMW for the first time cost valuable minutes, while the team was forced to replace the car’s front clip in Hour 13 after Jesse Krohn picked up a puncture.
Nonetheless, the RLL squad’s other car went on to record the third victory for the M8 program in the IMSA WeatherTech series, and its third in four races including results from the tail-end of last season.
RESULTS: Rolex 24 at Daytona