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Corvette, Viper Secure GT Class Wins at Rolex 24

All-American sweep as Corvette (GTLM), Viper (GTD) take Rolex 24 wins…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

The No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R (GT Le Mans) and No. 93 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R (GT Daytona) have emerged victorious in the GT categories in the 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Ryan Briscoe shared the winning Corvette. Meanwhile Kuno Wittmer, Dominik Farnbacher, Al Carter, Cameron Lawrence and Ben Keating were in the winning Viper.

GTLM was a war of attrition for the second consecutive year, while GTD saw the Riley Motorsports contingent emerge a much stronger presence in the class after debuting the GT3-spec Viper at this race last year.

Despite the tough race, the GTLM class top two still ended an impressive fifth and sixth overall. A year ago, they were sixth and seventh.

The No. 3 Corvette and No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE were realistically the only cars of the 10 entered in class that didn’t encounter any major drama.

The Corvette with Magnussen, Garcia and Briscoe behind the wheel, was a top three or four regular for the most of the race. Beyond the full-season pairing, Briscoe’s overnight stints were impressive and kept the car near the top of the leaderboard.

BMW’s No. 25 car encountered a bit of early drama with a left rear puncture incurred after contact occurred between Bill Auberlen and his nemesis Nick Tandy.

Otherwise, the other issue that affected the car was when Bruno Spengler had an off entering the bus stop and tore off the rear body work in the 18th hour. He pitted for repairs, and lost one position.

Werner got ahead of Garcia in the final three hours, but in the 23rd hour, Garcia got back ahead when Werner encountered a slow stop.

His rear wheels spun and the delay cost him the lead. Still, this marks the second straight runner-up for BMW, accomplished this year with Werner, Auberlen, Spengler and Augusto Farfus.

The sister No. 4 Corvette finished, if possible, a disappointing third after racing neck-and-neck with the No. 3 for the first 16 to 18 hours of the race.

But in the 18th hour, a cut right front tire and body repair cost the No. 4 two laps with Oliver Gavin behind the wheel.

Once the sun rose, the team’s comeback was thwarted when Tommy Milner sustained more body damage as a prototype nearly stopped out of turn 6. Gavin, Milner and Simon Pagenaud ended third.

Elsewhere, the second BMW ended up fourth, after a day where John Edwards was contacted from the rear and pushed into another car. That cost them 29 laps and ended their chances.

The No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR, which won in 2014, ended fifth in class but repaired and damaged after its coming together with the team car in the 12th hour.

Aston Martin’s race never really got going with two early-race penalties and a stopping on course in the opening hours. Despite several trips to the garage, it did make the finish in sixth.

As mentioned, the No. 912 Porsche was damaged beyond repair in the team car accident. The No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR ran impressively for 18 hours in the top three or four before being sidelined with a drivetrain issue.

Ferrari’s race also saw disappointment with the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia retired just before the 11-hour mark due to an electrical engine misfire, and the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia damaged beyond repair after Francois Perrodo’s moving onto the track and contacting the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

In GTD, Riley Motorsports dominated most of the race with both the No. 93 and the sister No. 33, with Jeroen Bleekemolen, Marc Goossens, Ben Keating, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen and Al Carter.

The No. 93 car took the GTD win from starting 19th and last in class, but quickly made it into the leading pack.

Even so, there were some 60 lead changes in GTD, with the class-winning No. 93 car leading five times and taking the lead for the final time with an hour and 45 minutes to go.

The No. 33 fell back due to a wiring issue, and that resigned them to an unrepresentative ninth place in class.

The No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America ran a consistent, solid race with all four of its drivers.

Leh Keen, Cooper MacNeil, Andrew Davis and Australian V8 Supercars ace Shane van Gisbergen drove a trouble-free race, with “the Giz” getting to bring the car home to the finish.

Meanwhile the No. 58 Dempsey/Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America rebounded from an early, several-lap penalty for an improper pass around, a door change on the left side and other issues to keep it running and emerge on the podium.

Jan Heylen and Madison Snow reprise their result of 2014, joined by Patrick Dempsey and Philipp Eng this time around.

AF Corse finished fourth in the No. 49 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 after a trouble-free, quiet but clean race from Pasin Lathouras, Matt Griffin, Michele Rugolo and Rui Aguas.

Audi made it into the top-five courtesy of the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS, driven by Dion von Moltke, Christopher Haase, Rene Rast and Bryce Miller. That car had its hood come loose in the morning hours and needed left front bodywork repairs, but otherwise held together.

The pair of Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3s were unlucky to end sixth and 14th, with the No. 63 car falling back due to reported clutch issues and the sister No. 64 having been involved in a major accident in the morning hours.

GB Autosport rallied to seventh in the No. 81 Porsche 911 GT America after myriad items came up during the race.

The pole-sitting No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 got knocked out after being hit by the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari.

Lastly, the car with the strangest day was the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America, which lost sixth gear but recovered, then hit an opossum and returned. The quartet of Andy Lally, John Potter, Martin Ragginger and Marco Seefried ended 11th on the day.

The second round of the TUDOR Championship, as well as the Patron Endurance Cup is the Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 21.

RESULTS: Rolex 24 at Daytona

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony

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