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Daytona Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook from 59th Rolex 24 at Daytona…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

***Acura became only the second manufacturer to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the DPi era of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, breaking Cadillac’s four-year streak in the race.

***It came almost exactly 30 years after the luxury automaker scored its first major endurance victory in the Camel Lights class at Daytona on Feb. 3, 1991. While Honda Performance Development won the 2016 edition of the race with a Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 fielded by Tequila Patron ESM, Sunday’s win by Wayne Taylor Racing was the first overall triumph for the Acura brand at Daytona.

***Renger van der Zande told Sportscar365 that he was “very surprised” by the pace of Filipe Albuquerque in the end of the race. “Especially out of the corners, the second, third, fourth gears they were having so much power suddenly that they didn’t have in the beginning of the race,” he said.

***Five cars finished on the lead lap of the overall winner, marking a new event record, in the around-the-clock enduro that saw a total of 119,292 race miles and an approximate average of 4,970 miles driven per hour.

***Jimmie Johnson matched his career-best Rolex 24 finish with a second-place result in the No. 48 Ally-sponsored Cadillac DPi-V.R. “This is my third second-place finish in this race. This is a special one and I’ll keep coming back,” he said.

***The event saw a significant influence of NASCAR personalities beyond the several drivers that were taking part. Jeff Gordon, who won the race in 2017 with WTR, was on the Action Express Racing pit box supporting the No. 48 Cadillac, while Richard Childress was also present on behalf of ECR Engines and supporting his grandson Austin Dillon, who finished fourth in the LMP2 class in RWR-Eurasia’s Ligier JS P217 Gibson.

***Kevin Magnussen admitted that he made a “rookie mistake” in his first official race stint as a sports car driver, with the ex-Formula One veteran forgetting to plug in his radio when he climbed aboard the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac. “We lost, I don’t know, five seconds, so I lost the lead and went from P1 to P3,” he said.

***The No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-05, which finished fourth in class, battled a throttle return problem from a loose electrical box, diagnosed by Juan Pablo Montoya, in the early stages of the race. The Colombian grabbed and held onto the box before pitting under yellow.

***With their win, WTR and Acura lead the Michelin Endurance Cup standings, with Albuquerque, Ricky Taylor and Alexander Rossi holding a five-point advantage over CGR’s van der Zande, Kevin Magnussen and Scott Dixon in second.

***Tower Motorsport (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3),  Corvette Racing (GTLM) and HTP Winward Racing (GTD) lead their respective classes in Endurance Cup points heading into next month’s second round at Sebring International Raceway.

***Corvette earned its fourth Rolex 24 class victory and first since 2016, which also resulted in a 1-2 finish. The two Chevrolet Corvette C8.Rs combined to lead 716 of the 770 laps in class en route to the mid-engined GTE car’s first endurance race win.

***The win for the No. 3 Corvette came on the 20th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the late Dale Sr. competing in the race at the wheel of a Corvette C5-R. Jordan Taylor said: “We were making our passes on the high banks so maybe we had a little bit of Dale Sr. in our car this weekend.”

***A technical issue related to the car’s engine performance relegated the No. 25 Team RLL BMW M8 GTE to a fifth place class finish, two laps behind the GTLM-winning Corvettes. It came after an accident at the start involving Bruno Spengler and the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Kevin Estre.

***The LMP2 class-winning Era Motorsport Oreca 07 Gibson completed the second half of the race without a clutch, in what was one of a “catalog of things” to go wrong for the entry according to Ryan Dalziel.

“Every time the thing fired up and rolled off, we kind of thanked our lucky stars it had the strength to get us out of pit lane,” said Dalziel who became a two-time Rolex 24 winner after his overall victory in 2010.

***Era is set to contest the full season in LMP2 according to team owner/driver Kyle Tilley who confirmed the team’s plans to IMSA Radio in the early hours of Sunday morning. Era has a busy couple of weeks coming up, with Tilley and Dwight Merriman also due to compete in the Asian Le Mans Series which kicks off at Dubai Autodrome in two weekends’ time.

***LMP2 debutant WIN Autosport led 173 laps early on until a brake issue forced the team’s No. 11 Oreca to the garage in the 12th hour. Contact with a GT car caused additional damage to the car, along with an incident by team principal/driver Steven Thomas in the closing hours.

***Cetilar Racing team owner/driver Roberto Lacorte felt a “podium was within reach as well as victory” for the Italian team on its and the Dallara P217 Gibson’s IMSA debuts. The Dallara proved competitive against the more prevalent Oreca 07s in the opening half before a gearbox failure struck approaching the 10-hour mark.

***The GT Daytona class-winning HTP Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo featured technical support from the German manufacturer and veteran engineer Alex Zoechling on the box calling strategy, which Maro Engel credited for being key to class victory.

***Lamborghini notched up its fourth consecutive Rolex 24 class podium despite missing out on extending its win streak to four editions. Paul Miller Racing, which ended up third on Sunday, has finished on the podium in three of the last four years.

***The No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 that led parts of the GTD category’s opening quarter fell victim to a cooling issue, according to the Vasser Sullivan team. Oliver Gavin, Jack Hawksworth, Kyle Kirkwood and Aaron Telitz retired with just over an hour remaining.

***A splitter issue for the No. 88 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R relegated the entry to a 10th place class finish while the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche lost nearly 80 minutes due to repairs after an accident with four hours to go after running inside the top-five.

***Another Acura NSX GT3 Evo could be joining the WeatherTech Championship as soon as the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Longtime Honda-affiliated team RealTime Racing is understood to be finalizing a program for the remainder of the Michelin Endurance Cup races this year.

Ryan Myrehn and Daniel Lloyd 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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