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Daytona Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ post-race notebook from 57th Rolex 24 at Daytona…

Photo: Brian Cleary/WTR

***Fernando Alonso became the third Formula 1 world champion to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona, joining Phil Hill (1964) and Mario Andretti (1972). However, the Spaniard is technically the first to do it in a 24-hour contest, as Hill’s win came in the Daytona Continental 2000 km format and Andretti’s in a six-hour race due to the fuel crisis.  

***The win came in only Alonso’s seventh sports car racing start, 12 months after making his prototype debut at Daytona in a United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson before going onto claim overall victories in the FIA World Endurance Championship Six Hours of Spa and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***Alonso said in the post-race press conference that he’s likely to “start negotiations” with team owner Wayne Taylor on the purchase of the team’s winning Cadillac DPi.V-R for his museum in his hometown of Oviedo, Spain.

***It was the first time the Rolex 24 featured two red flags in the race’s 57-year history. A 1-hour and 38-minute stoppage occurred on Sunday morning, which was followed by six additional full-course caution periods, including one lengthy yellow. The eventual race-ending red was flown with 1 hour and 57 minutes remaining.

***IMSA’s senior director of race operations Mark Raffauf likened the conditions to the 1981 and 2004 editions of the race.

***Michelin came fully prepared for the possibility of rain, with 6,000 wet weather tires on hand for the weekend, enough to cover the entire field for 24 hours. “Through the great efforts by a tremendous number of people and collaboration from IMSA, the race teams and our key partners, we were able to meet [the] challenges in preparing and then adapting to the many changes as the race weekend evolved,” said Michelin North America motorsports director Chris Baker.

***IMSA made a last-minute clarification to the maximum rear wing angles of DPi cars in a bulletin sent to teams only 50 minutes prior to the start of the race. It’s understood the max wing angles, which were not initially defined in the 2019 Rolex 24 BoP, were established at the same levels from last year’s season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans.

***Wayne Taylor revealed that his first contact with Kobayashi came by an accidental phone call that woke up the Japanese driver in the middle of the night. “I phoned him at 3 a.m. in the morning and I suddenly realized, what have I done? I put the phone down. He called me back and said, ‘Who is this?’ I said, ‘This is Wayne Taylor, would you be interested in coming to Daytona with us?'” 

***Three-time IMSA champion Taylor will be inducted into the South African Hall of Fame next month.

***Van der Zande becomes the fourth Dutch driver to win the race outright joining Arie Luyendijk (1998), Jan Lammers (1990 and 1988) and Toine Hezemans (1978). 

***Cadillac DPi debutants Juncos Racing and JDC-Miller Motorsports had challenging outings, with a throttle issue forcing Juncos’ entry to start from the pit lane, followed by a power issue in the fourth hour, en route to a 30th place finish overall.

***While the No. 85 JDC-Miller entry came home fifth, the No. 84 Cadillac DPi was eliminated from contention early after Juan Piedrahita hit a spinning Mark Kvamme in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson. 

***Remarkably, it was Stephen Simpson’s first retirement from a race since 2014.

***Alex Zanardi praised Augusto Farfus’ storming final stint in the No. 25 Team RLL BMW M8 GTE that took Farfus and co-drivers Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng and Colton Herta to GTLM class honors. “Even if I had ten legs, I don’t think I could have done what Augusto did in the end!” said Zanardi.

***The Brazilian only got the call up to race last Saturday when visa delays prevented Tom Blomqvist from taking part.

***Eighteen-year-old Herta, in his WeatherTech Championship debut, meanwhile, set the classes’ fastest race lap. The second generation-driver has served as Team RLL’s reserve driver since last year.

***BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt told Sportscar365 they have a “clear plan” for its Sebring driver lineups, with the manufacturer set to not have any crossover between its WeatherTech Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship driver pairings.

***Herta and Eng are set to continue with BMW Team RLL in the remaining Michelin Endurance Cup races, although in seperate cars, with potential third drivers for its MTEK-run WEC entries for Sebring not yet announced.

***Rik Breukers’ second consecutive Rolex 24 GTD class win with Grasser Racing Team, meanwhile, comes after being part of the overall-winning team in the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai earlier this month.

***AJ Allmendinger kept his streak alive of leading the Rolex 24 in every race appearance with Meyer Shank Racing, when he assumed the top spot in GTD just prior to the first red flag. The former NASCAR driver, who was also serving on NBC Sports’ broadcast team in the race, has been part of the team’s lineup in 13 of the last 14 years.

***The No. 99 NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R was the race’s first retirement with engine failure, likely stemming from damage sustained from an incident by Alfred Renauer in the opening hour. Ironically Alfred’s twin brother, Robert, had the first incident of last year’s race when he crashed the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche on the pace lap.

***An entry list quirk resulted in the flag of Swaziland being displayed in the line of flags around the International Horseshoe indicating the different nationalities competing in the Rolex 24.

***The landlocked African nation was represented because Simona de Silvestro, making her first appearance at Daytona, had ‘SWZ’ listed as her abbreviated national demonym. The more traditional ‘CHE’ abbreviation was used for the other Swiss drivers, including Marcel Fassler and Simon Trummer.

Rene de Boer, Daniel Lloyd and Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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