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Continental Tire Rolex 24 Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ Continental Tire post-race notebook from Rolex 24 at Daytona…

Photo: Scott LePage/IMSA

***Despite a brief bout of rain, the 56th Rolex 24 at Daytona saw both the lap and mileage records smashed. The winning No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R completed 808 laps, or 2,876.48 miles, beating the previous record of 762 laps on the current circuit length from the 1992-winning Nissan R91 CP of Masahiro Hasemi, Kazuyoshi Hoshino, Toshio Suzuki and Anders Oloffson.

***The previous distance record, meanwhile, was set in 1982 on a 3.84-mile layout by the Porsche 935 JLP-3 of John Paul Sr., Rolf Stommelen and John Paul Jr.

***Loic Duval said that in CORE autosport’s pre-racing strategy meeting, the team expected to encounter somewhere around 20 full course cautions. Instead the race featured just four, the lowest number since the 1994 event, which had only one caution.

***The race also saw a record elapsed time before the first retirement, the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac DPi (engine) with 8 hours and 39 minutes complete. Only seven of the 50 starters failed to finish.

***Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi each claimed their third Rolex 24 overall victory, with all three for Barbosa having come with Action Express. Filipe Albuquerque, meanwhile, picked up his first overall win following GT class honors in 2013, driving an Audi R8 LMS.

***Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner Stuart Middleton completed the race in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac after it was determined the 18-year-old British GT4 champion had not completed the base drive time of two hours in the car.

***The second-place-finishing No. 31 Action Express team came away as the Round 1 winner of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup. Action Express has won every Patron Endurance Cup to date with the No. 5 car. The No. 31 car also posted the fastest lap of the race at 1:37.475 on Lap 331 by Nasr.

***The No. 66 Ford GT and No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 entries lead the way in the Patron Endurance Cup in GT Le Mans and GT Daytona, respectively.

***Wright Motorsports spent the opening 2 hours and 8 minutes of the race making repairs following Robert Renauer’s crash on the formation lap. The No. 58 Porsche GT3 R soldiered home to a 19th place finish in GT Daytona. The car made its first pass for position in class of the race when it moved past the retired No. 51 Spirit of Race Ferrari with under three hours remaining, 18 hours and 56 minutes after it turned its first lap of the race.

***Many of the GTLM and GTD class drivers said the larger Prototype field took some getting used to throughout the race. Katherine Legge and others said that whereas in the past they could expect groups of two or three prototypes to close in on them simultaneously, this year’s race frequently featured clusters of four or more top-class cars closing in on GT traffic, adding to the challenge of the race.

***Both 3GT Lexus RC F GT3 entries led laps in GTD early on before faltering. Scott Pruett, who was slated to finish the race in the final outing of his professional career, said the No. 14 car dealt with a vibration that could not be rectified in the closing hours which prevented him from completing his final scheduled stint. Both the Nos. 14 and 15 cars were running at the finish.

***Pruett said the program has taken significant strides since its debut in 2017. “Last year was just getting here and having cars that could go out,” he said. “Unfortunately we had a lot of issues. This year I wouldn’t say it’s been trouble free, but for the most part fairly trouble free.”

***Despite claiming victory in GTD, Grasser Racing Team will not take part in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March, according to Head of Lamborghini Motorsport Giorgio Sanna, who said the Austrian squad will shift its focus to its Blancpain GT Series title defense.

***Paul Miller Racing’s Bryan Sellers enjoyed driving the team’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 around the high-banked New Smyrna Speedway on Friday evening to shakedown the installation of a new drivetrain. “Part of me really wanted to try hard because I wanted to see what it could do, but I was on strict orders not to accelerate through the corner because the banking was so high and so tight,” he told Sportscar365.

***Performance Tech Motorsports team boss Brent O’Neill said he felt his team had turned some heads with its debut outing in an Oreca 07 Gibson, considering they had been in possession of the car for only 29 days prior to the race. Pato O’Ward qualified the car fourth overall and the team overcame running out of fuel and a wave-by violation to finish eighth.

***The team welcomed back Scott Raymond as lead engineer last weekend. Raymond, who previously worked with the Florida-based team, is coming off a four-year stint as the Senior Technical Engineer at IMSA, having been part of the sanctioning body’s technical committee. 

***While they didn’t score a podium in either class, Ferraris came home with the fastest laps in both GTLM and GTD, set by James Calado and Daniel Serra, respectively.

***The pair of Ford GTs led all but nine laps in GTLM with the class-winning No. 67 car out front of 149 laps and the No. 66 car for a total of 625. The No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR and No. 4 Corvette C7.R were the only other class leaders, for six and three laps, respectively.

***Richard Westbrook revealed that he inherited the lead from the sister No. 66 car by short-filling the fuel tank on their second-to-last stop with just over two hours remaining. The car bounded back from a long first pit stop dealing with a broken rim.

***All Ford entries who competed during the weekend bore a special decal for Ford racing legend Dan Gurney, who died Jan. 14. The serial number on the class-winning Ford EcoBoost engine is “GT40.”

***Despite suffering an electrical issue and splitter delamination earlier in the weekend which reduced the team’s running in practice sessions, the BMW M8 GTE had a largely reliable debut race with no major mechanical issues other than a suspension failure caused by a puncture.

***A number of drivers, including Laurens Vanthoor and Christina Nielsen, lashed out at Team Penske drivers for their driving conduct with GT cars in the race. Juan Pablo Montoya was penalized for “incident responsibility” after contact with the No. 29 Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS of Kelvin van der Linde in the closing stages of the race.

Ryan Myrehn and Jake Kilshaw contributed to this report

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

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